The best assignment in our church (BY FAR!) in my opinion is being a part of the scouting program. I never did scouts as a kid, but was given an assignment as an assistant scoutmaster in the 11-year-old scout program for about 5 years. And being part of scouts with ll-year-old boys is pretty special. This is most boys’ first year in scouts. Everything is new. Some kids have never lit a match, used an axe, or set up their own tent. Every year with a new batch of boys, you get to experience everything again for the first time. You get to see the failure, frustration, then the victory… It’s an age before girls start clouding the picture. And outdoor stuff is still cool, because you finally get to do all the dangerous stuff that you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t…
Yesterday, I got to attend Joel Urey’s Eagle Scout court of honor. Joel Urey was one of my boys in 2008, my last year in scouts before I was given a different assignment in the church.
My most vivid memory of Joel was when we went up to Cascade Park on a campout. As we were exiting the park, we decide we’d each take one last ride on the zip line. As one of the them was going down, the whole group of boys started chasing him down to claim the next turn. Unfortunately, when the boy jumped off the zip line seat, the wooden seat slingshotted up and hit Joel square in the eye. By the time, I reached the scene, Joel was writhing on the ground with his hands covering his eye. Not good. It took some time to regain composure, but once he did, we started testing his vision. Nothing too scientific. More of “Can you see?” To my horror, his answer was “I see black out of one eye.” You could see some color around the eye where the seat smacked him. Ouch. We got everyone in the van, and my mind was racing. We have to get this boy to the emergency room! In my mind, I was thinking that we’ll have to go to Evergreen Hospital Emergency Room in Bothell. As we kept driving, I continue to quiz him on the status of his vision. He matter-of-factly answered my questions. The other boys were also tending to him as if they were all surgeons. Nothing brings a group of boys together like an injury. As we continued to drive, Joel reported that he felt his vision was returning, although somewhat spotty. After some more quizzing, I asked if he thought we should go to the emergency room, or to his home. He thought that he’d be ok going home. I’m assuming his vision turned out ok… or he spent the last 4 years faking that it’s fine. I just remember thinking – wow… tough boy…
Joel is now a young man. He towers over me. His voice is octaves lower than what I remember. And as he spoke, my mind kept trying to make the connection between the little boy I knew and this young man before me.
I thought it was so rewarding to see each of the kids learn a new skill, earn a new merit badge, and move up in rank. But years later, to see one of them complete their journey in scouts with the highest rank attainable was a rare treat. Only 4% of scouts make it to Eagle, and it takes some grit and perseverance to get there. I am so proud of you, Joel! Now, you are on the other side and will hopefully have the joy and opportunity to serve the next generation of scouts. Good luck on all your future endeavors. You’re starting off from a great place.
I had a few pictures that I thought were worth sharing – maybe some of them made it into the slide show. This was at a campout where we were learning how to build fires, and the first team to burn through the top string won.
Here’s the preparation:
Here’s the roaring fire. Note the stake holding up the string is on fire.
Joel’s dad giving a lesson on how “NOT” to make kindling. He gave a lot of great “How not to” lessons.
Some after hours practice.