A year or so ago, I announced the opening of my new Scouting Trails Memorabilia Museum and extended to all Scouts, Scouter, families and units an open invitation to come see the Museum. With my recent family move, I am pleased to say that the Museum is now bigger and better and is open in the new location in Maricopa, Arizona.
Check out the original blog: The Scouting Trails Memorabilia Museum
And yes, the Museum is NOW OPEN for your viewing pleasure. E-mail Kevin today at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment for yourself, your family or your Scouting unit. (And you could come ahead and preview it – and then bring the group later!) Just come and enjoy it.
Come and relive Scouting memories – including your own experiences along your own Scouting Trail … Kevin
Recently I wrote a blog, 50 Years as an Eagle Scout , celebrating 50 years since I became an Eagle Scout. Fifty years … how is that possible? No way I could be that old. In that blog, I announced the forthcoming publication of a new book, “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”. That was just a “teaser” but now comes the real thing! My new “Scouting Trails” book has just published and is now available for you on Amazon.
But that is not the only Scouting Trails book available for you there. I’d like to share information and links with you so that you can check them out. And maybe you’ll be interested enough to even purchase one or more or all of the books. That would please me very much! And I hope that you might be pleased with the books, as well.
Let me say first, however, that most of the information in my books comes from those fifty years of involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. And those years are documented in personal daily journals that span most of those fifty plus years (and that is another blog: 45 Years of Daily Journaling). I am happy to share my first-hand experiences with you. Yes, I have truly been there, done that, and got the T-shirt (so many, in fact, that they take up a sizeable space in my new Scouting Trails Museum (located in my own home). “Scouting Trails” is my “brand” for everything that I write about Scouting. (And I do also write about other things too … Stay tuned for more on that!)
Note that with each book, there are two versions. One is the standard paperback version in a 6” x 9” format. Each book kind of looks like other books in my Scouting Trails series (and again, this is my “Brand”). And the other is the Kindle on-line version – for readers on the go. Now you can purchase the books and read them at your convenience on your cell-phone or other electronic device. So, take your pick. Choose the version that fits you best. Or do both – for even greater versatility. If you get both versions, you get a big discount on the Kindle version. And sometimes you can have a free read of the Kindle version free – with or without a paperback purchase! Such a deal!
So, let’s get on with the books. Bring them on! Here goes:
First, let me tell you about“Gnubie to Eagle Scout”:
This is a book geared most specifically for youth – but you parents and Scout leaders might enjoy it as much as your Scouts. And feel free to share it with them around the campfire or in family read-along sessions together at home. This book digs back in the memory and details (in living color) my own wonderful Scouting experience as a youth (with some adult wisdom gained later, added occasionally).
As I open the book, I tell of my experience as a “Gnubie”. For years, I pronounced the word as “Gun-ubie” *(that is how naïve I was). Yes, I was a really green gnubie. I could not wait to get involved in Scouting. The days could not come soon enough for me! But, come, they did. As a gnubie (new-bie), I had some grand experiences in good old Troop 155, in Mesa, Arizona. I was a gnubie … but didn’t know that I was one. That is, until I went to Camp Geronimo for my first Scout summer camp experience. The sign that greeted us at the “lake” (a big name for a little pond) was ominous. It read (with skull and crossed bones): “Beware! This Lake Eats Gnubies”. My fellow Troop 155’ers pointed it out to me and laughed hysterically. They did not let on right away that “Gnubie” meant me. (And let me say that to be politically correct today, they meant no harm in their use of the term … after all, they were once one, too! So, there was nothing wrong with being a Gnubie. So, after I learned that I was one, I relished in that new status. It was great!)
Then, as the book progresses, I recall my steps along the Eagle Scout trail – from Gnubie to Tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st Class, Star, Life and on up to Eagle Scout. I share many of my Gnubie memories (which, by the way, get better with the passing of time!). And I also share some insights and challenges for great Scouting times after you receive the coveted Eagle Scout award.
Major and pleasant features of “Gnubie” are the great illustrations created by my wife, Lou, especially for the book. Check them out! Thanks, Lou! There are a few other photos and artwork, as well.
Take a walk down memory lane and as you do so, get your journal (a book, an App) or something that works for you to write down some of your own memories as they come to you. I would recommend my own way to record such memories as they randomly pop into my mind. Carry some 3×5” cards (white or colored – my favorite). When you are at a stop light or have a quiet moment sometime in your day, and a memory pops into your mind, write a few words about the memory … just enough to help jar your memory even more when you have time to more fully detail that memory. And if you do this on a regular basis, you will soon have a decent collection of your own Scouting (or general life memories). This same procedure will also help you write a detailed personal or family history. Give it a try. You will be glad that you did … and so will forthcoming generations behind you. (I presented this Gnubie book to one of my own grandsons just this morning. I hope that it will help motivate Bryson as he moves along his own Scouting trail.)
That brings up the next book: “What Every Scout Parent Should Know: A Parent’s Guide to be the Best Scout Parents Ever”
When a boy (or girl) becomes a Cub Scout, it is a family thing. But, too often, parents think that all they need to do is get their son to the meetings. They have misconceptions about the uniform and other things. They could be better and more supportive. This book is a guide to help parents become the best Scouting parents ever.
Let me say that my own mother was my greatest Scouting supporter. She was everywhere that she needed to be in order to help me and my four brothers all become Eagle Scouts. (She wears her miniature pins in flight formation!) I can not say enough about her greatness as my Scouting parent. Thanks, Mom! I write a frank view to Scout moms – with guidance and help based upon that my mother gave to me.
In the book, I also write frankly to the dads. MyDad kind of went along – when he had to – but he could have been a bit more “into it”. Learn from him and really go for it!
“Scout Camp Preparations – A Leader’s Guide: How to Prepare Now for the Best Ever Scout Camp Next Year”
This book is a handy guide to help Scoutmasters and other Scouting leaders to make all necessary preparations for a successful Scout summer camp experience. It is a step-by-step guide for those camp preparations. The book is written from the view of a very experienced camp director who has had long experience in preparing the camp experience for the arriving troops. Check it out – and do just that: Make it the best Scout camp ever – this summer and next!
“Our Scouting Heritage – General Version: A Commemoration Program to Inspire Your Scouts”
Just in time to celebrate the February anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America …
This is a dramatic reading commemorative program designed to help all Scouts, leaders and families appreciate the great legacy and heritage of the Scouting program. The program can be used during Scout week, or at any time with a BBQ or dinner, at a court of honor, blue and gold banquet, a campfire program or other activities.
“Our Scouting Heritage – LDS Edition: A Commemorative Program to Inspire Your Scouts”
This book is a twin brother (almost) to the book noted above … but it adds some additional historical tidbits from the words of LDS Prophets and other leaders in support of the Scouting program. Things are changing with the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but like reading scripture, those changes can never wipe out our memories nor our LDS Scouting heritage of the past.
And finally, here is a great read for every teenager (and adult) everywhere. This is:
“Dean!: A Youth Leader Triumphs Even Through Cancer”
My brother, Dean, died as the Westwood High School Junior Class President but touched the hearts of everyone through his caring and dynamic leadership. Dean was both Sophomore and Junior Class President and was known by everyone at his Westwood High School. A great leader, he triumphed even through cancer. Though facing death, Dean teaches us to have faith in God’s plan for each of us, to love life, to be a friend, to face life (and death) with guts, to be a man of character, to believe in ourselves, to share and to serve, to “go for it” and to “hang in there”. The lessons of Dean! This book tells of his triumph through his cancer and ultimate death. The book contains his journal kept just before his death.
And having said all of the above, there is a single link where (now or in a few days) you can see all current “Scouting Trails” books currently being sold on Amazon. Here is that master author link:
Well, there you have them! Several “Scouting Trails” books for you to enjoy. There is something for everyone. Get them for yourself, your Scout children, family and friends. And there are several more like these “in the pipeline” so look for more titles to come in the future. On my Author page on Amazon, you can click “Follow” to get updates on Scouting Trails and other books by yours truly.
Trying to help you enjoy your Scouting Trails journey … Best wishes and enjoy those trails!
[Eagle artwork with feature Photo courtesy of artist, Ron Bergen]
It was a great sight as a convocation of eight Eagles (all from one family) took flight in Arizona’s famed Superstition Mountains. The occasion was an Eagle Scout court of honor held at a home at the base of the mountains made famous by the Lost Dutchman who according to a century-old legend, buried gold that is yet to be found. And though the court of honor was inside, just being there under those majestic mountains made the occasion all the more grand.
I am kind of a history buff. So, I get into the study and preservation of old stuff. And that is probably why I joined the modern “Mormon Battalion”. This historical society exists to commemorate and to keep alive, the memory of the Original Mormon Battalion that made the longest military infantry march in known history in 1846 and 1947. Five hundred or so men (and a few ladies) marched 2,000 or so miles from today’s Council Bluffs, Iowa – through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, to San Diego, then northern California and on to the Rocky Mountains and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Arizona Chapter of the modern Mormon Battalion has a mission of taking Scouts, youth and leaders across the dusty trails that the former Battalion members helped to build (basically following the Gila River across Arizona). With special authorization from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Battalion members help local Scout troops and other youth groups traverse those trails, provide service on the trail, and to participate in a campfire program where is told the history of the original Mormon Battalion.
I have personally been on that trail a few times and have loved the presentations by the Battalion members. I wish I could say that it is a beautiful place, but I can’t. In fact, it is one of the ugliest places I have ever been. Unlike much more beautiful Arizona elsewhere, It is pretty stark and there is a whole lot of nothing out there. But, having been a part of that scene, it underscores to me, the sacrifice that those men made for our country as they spent the nights there over Christmas (today known as “Christmas Camp“) . Wearing bare threads, and hardly any shoes, and subsisting on little food, these hearty pioneers were fed and taken care of by the native Pima-Maricopa Indians. And I note that at this time, most of the men had no idea where their families were (somewhere along the Mormon trail heading from Iowa and Nebraska toward Zion – or Salt Lake City) – nor when or if they would ever see them again. Faith moved them forward!
Then months or years later, after their initial hike on the Battalion Trail, as young men become Eagle Scouts, a member of the modern Battalion is invited to the Scout’s Eagle Scout court of honor. And at the court of honor, he presents to the new Eagle a beautiful and impressive steer head neckerchief slide that symbolizes the pioneer spirit of the original pioneer battalion.
And that is where and how I get involved with the new Eagle Scouts. I have been a member of the slide presentation team for almost 30 years and have presented an estimated 150-200 of these slides. At the presentations, I honor the memory of the original Mormon Battalion (with a bit of a mini-history lesson) – and the new Eagle Scout. This is always a great honor for me to make these presentations. And that is also the how and why I found myself at the base of the Superstition Mountains on a recent November Sunday evening.
I had been invited to be a part of the simple Eagle Scout ceremony by the Ellingson family. Typically, an Ellingson Eagle court has been held at their home – located only a few blocks from my Mesa, Arizona home. Having been given no other directions, I headed there to make my presentation. But, upon arrival, I found the Ellingson family home rented out and otherwise occupied as the parents, Tyler, the new Eagle Scout and his younger brother are in Hawaii on a special 2-year church assignment. (A real rough deal … but someone has to do it!) I next went to their church building – again close to my home. Nada! There was no trace of the large Ellingson clan (consisting now of mom, dad, 13 children – nine sons and four daughters – and an ever growing posterity of grandchildren). Okay, I was now really stumped. I called the Ellingson mom – and was surprised that she actually answered the phone so near to the big activity starting time..
“Didn’t I tell you?” she asked. She told me that the court was to be held at the base of the Superstition Mountains – located about 25 miles to the east. (I guess she somehow forgot that detail.) Now I was really “stuck” since it was already starting time. (But, I guessed the clan could visit and entertain each other as they waited for me.)
Eagle Scout son, Tyler – now an adopted Hawaiian – and family – returned to Arizona for the wedding of an older brother and the Eagle court was planned as one of the reunion gatherings of that week. Ellingsons had come from far and near to be a part of the events of the week. And Tyler had very simple requests for his recognition night. He wanted his mom to serve some of her famous salsa and chips to the crowd – and he wanted me to come to make the presentation of the Battalion slide. So, of course they had to wait for me.
So, I headed out east on the Freeway – and then tried to find my way – on the very dark night – up to the mountain home of an Ellingson daughter and family. And I soon wished that I had brought my boy Scout compass. I explored much of the southern edge of the Superstition Mountains in my search for the gathering. Finally, after another call to the Ellingson family, several members of the family came out with flashlights to help me get found and safely guided to the Eagle’s Aerie of the night.
The trip into the Ellingson Eagle convocation brought back a flood of fond memories of a similar occasion as I got lost on my very first overnight excursion as a brand new gnube Boy Scout … more on that later!
Upon my arrival, I looked around the room. I recognized nearly everyone. I noted that even with the passage of time, and though the boys I once knew were now rather tall and impressive men, many of them still tried to squeeze into their old Scout uniforms for this grand occasion.
And it was a truly grand occasion for in this simple ceremony, the family would recognize and celebrate the EIGHTH SON in the family to become an Eagle Scout. Wow! Talk about a fabulous family accomplishment. This was truly amazing. Eight Eagle Scout sons! Likely only a very few families could boast of such an accomplishment! It truly was something to shout about – but here only the family (but a rather large family) was gathered to quietly celebrate the momentous occasion. And they rejoiced together. Soon the Eagle court began. The Ellingson dad and patriarch, Mark, called his family to order. There was a simple flag ceremony there in the living room and then a prayer. Father, Mark, opened the court of honor and talked of how the Scouting program has impacted and strengthened his family through the years. He invited others to share their memories of their involvement with the Scouting program. Many positive stories were shared.
Then was noted the great significance of this current moment as THE EIGHTH son of the family was to receive the coveted Eagle Scout award. [And a side note: The ninth Ellingson son is presently an “eaglet” almost ready to take Eagle flight himself. He is presently working to complete his Eagle Scout project and will soon also become an Eagle like his many brothers before him. Everyone was humbly proud and excited to be sharing this family milestone.
All Eagle Scouts were invited to stand. Though an Eagle’s nest was not officially established, everyone noted who would have been in it. Father, Mark, then had his son, Tyler, the new Eagle, stand. Then he and the mom, Marlene, proudly pinned the Eagle badge upon their son.
It was then my turn to present the Mormon Battalion steer head neckerchief slide that I had been invited to present. Mark introduced me and noted (as I knew already) that I had been present for each and every one of the previous Eagle presentations to older brothers – first to the twins and now down through six more brothers. Wow! I am sure that this was a record for me – to have presented the award to eight sons in one family. I was proud and happy to be a part of all of this. It was a special honor for me.
As I stood there by the fireplace, I thanked everyone for the opportunity of being a part of the ongoing Ellingson tradition and noted how exciting it is to witness eight Ellingson Eagle Scouts now in flight together.
Before making the presentation, I noted the challenge of finding my way to the place – there at the base of the famed Superstition Mountains. I shared with them the story of my first Superstition outing – my first overnight camping experience. And before it came my turn to talk, I had found an old picture on my cell phone and began to pass it around.
And yes, I actually admitted that I had once been lost (just once). (Most men have a hard time admitting that they are lost.) But, it is a fact … Mr. Kimball Nelson, the Scoutmaster of our Troop 155 – “The Best Alive” – (and also then my 7th grade science teacher) led us on a night hike to the Superstitions. We were seeking the Superstition Hieroglyphic Canyon. Anyway, for whatever reason (but maybe pre-planned by Mr. Nelson), we wandered around in the star-lit but dark night – not knowing where we were.
But then, in the distance, we saw a light – a shining beacon to us. We made our way toward the light and found ourselves at the then famous Apacheland Movie Ranch – located at the base of the mountain – and as I told the group – “probably right close to where we presently found ourselves for this court of honor”. Anyway, we looked around and saw a light in a small trailer house. We needed help so we knocked on the trailer door.
After a few moments, a cowboy opened the door – likely surprised that someone would be knocking on his door at that late hour of the night. We were in Scout uniform, but we told him that we were Scouts and that we were lost. I am sure that he chuckled at this whole scenario. But, he soon saw that we were serious. He introduced himself as Ron Mix – who a star of the “Death Valley Days” television series then being filmed at the Ranch. He gave us directions to get us back on track toward our destination and then presented each of us an autographed 8×10” photo of himself. Wow! That was great stuff for us gnube Scouts. What a memory …
But, back to the presentation at hand: I briefly recounted the history of the original Mormon Battalion and Brigham Young’s three promises to them: (1- That they would perform a great service to the country and to their church … they helped build the first Southern route road that became the pioneer, “Butterfield Stage” road and the route of the Pony Express … and in lieu of fancy military uniforms, they received the uniform allowance and with their regular military pay … gave the funds to Brigham to outfit the first Mormon pioneer company; 2- That they would never have to fight against another human being (and that was true … their only battle was “the Battle of the Bulls” here in Arizona), and 3- That they would never be forgotten … still evidenced by our very being together recognizing them at this court of honor some 170 years later). I then presented the beautiful steer head neckerchief slide to Eagle Tyler.
So, there it was … a great opportunity to bask in this great Ellingson tradition and to witness again, the convocation of their Eagle flight – this time at the base of the Superstition Mountains. Congratulations, Ellingson family! You look great in eagle flight!
And with that, the program ended. Then it was time to enjoy those chips and salsa.
We are in a season of Thanksgiving and our thanks can include gratitude for Scouting and the great opportunity that is ours to work, serve, to touch the lives of our youth – and to be touched ourselves through this great program. Let us rejoice in the blessings and opportunities that are ours.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share with you a message which I wrote last year for the special season – and which appeared in The Boy Scout (published by the Utah National Parks Council). So, in the spirit of gratitude:
By Kevin Hunt
Nov 23, 2017
Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Scouting: A Poem
As I think about Thanksgiving, gratitude, and Scouting, they all seem to go together. So, I wrote a poem about it all and would like to share it with you.
I’m So Grateful I’m in Scouting
I’m so grateful I’m in Scouting,
growing, serving, so much to give.
Scouting brotherhood and outings,
Oh, what a life it’s been to live.
We earn our wolf badge, then the bear,
Then Webelos, Arrow of Light.
We get to go to day camp where,
We all have fun with all our might.
We started with the Cub Scouts,
and we all love the Blue and Gold.
Such fun in dens, and packs as Scouts,
When done with fam’lies young and old.
New Scout Patrol is next you see,
We start as Scouts then Tenderfeets.
Then Second, First Class Scouts we will be,
Star, Life, then Eagle Scout so sweet.
To be an Eagle Scout is best,
And that’s the goal that we all seek.
We climb the trail and pass each test,
along our way to Eagle’s peak.
As Scouts, we get to camp and hike,
The Scouts and leaders all are there.
We tromp thru snow, or ride our bike,
We hike the hills, camp everywhere.
We have grand times at camporees;
our weeks at summer camp are best.
If we’re lucky, to jamborees,
So much to do, no time to rest.
What can beat the smell of bacon,
as we’re camping on the trail.
And together we are making
the grub that we all love so well.
I’m so grateful I’m in Scouting,
growing, serving, so much to give.
Scouting brotherhood and outings,
Oh what a life it’s been to live.
At this special season, let’s all be grateful for our grand association with the Scouting Program. It is a lot to be thankful for!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin thescoutblogger
Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director
In a previous blog, previous blog on the bolo tie carving tradition. I talked of my treasured collection of Scout bolo ties and how it was rescued from the Brian Head and Thunder Ridge Fire summer before last. I introduced Scout bolo tie carver extraordinaire, Bill Burch. [Much has been written of Bill Burch but here is one article that was published by the Deseret News: Bill Burch’s Bolo Ties. We can all be grateful that before his passing on September 25, 2012, Bill passed on his bolo tie legacy as he trained countless protégés in the art of bolo tie carving. I have met a few of these guys but who knows how many Bill wanna-bees are out there. But, I am glad that they are there – and that they continue to carve as Bill did. I’d like to introduce some of the carvers whom I have known and whose bolos I have in my collection. And this underscores again, why my bolo tie collection is important to me and why I was so grateful that they were saved from the fire..
In 2013, I was a part of a group of LDS and Scouting historians who collaborated together to write and create the “Century of Honor” book to commemorate the full-century affiliation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America. As the Century of Honor book project came to a close, Mark Francis, Director of LDS/BSA Relations (and headquartered in Salt Lake City across from Temple Square of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) was (with his wife, Nettie) the lead in the book production. He invited me to come to Salt Lake City to join him with the other historians with whom I had worked on the project – to celebrate our accomplishment. This visit coincided with a semi-annual conference which Mark and helpers stage each year to help Scouters from all over the country better understand the LDS/BSA relationship.
At this Salt Lake City gathering, I again met Gary Dollar as he was a service missionary for the event. I had found one of his bolo ties on-line – and this was an LDS Century of Honor Jamboree Scout (#11,144 – which I found for the bargain price of $25.) As I had opportunity to visit with Gary, he promised to make and send me a cowboy. (I have a personal love for anything with the western cowboy theme.) I wrote him a reminder note on one of my characteristic 3×5” colored cards from my pocket. He put it into the chest pocket of his suit. My guess is that the card is still in that pocket.
I went on-line to see what carved bolo ties might be found there. I bought three different bolos carved by Guy Nelson. I have not met him but he carves some good faces. From Guy, I have his fireman (#4040), a stove pipe man (#4583) and what I call a “country gentleman” (#4757). (I note that Guy puts his initials but not his name on his bolos – so one has to be a bit more of an investigator to determine who the artist is.) But, having carved 4,757 bolos, he has surely been around the block just a bit.
In 2014 I attended a National BSA camp school prior to being the camp director at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp in Colorado. On the course staff was a Fred Jepsen. I got acquainted with him after I learned that he was a carver. It was fascinating to talk with him about his bolo tie production process. First, he showed me his giant home-made vinyl apron – with giant open pockets – into which he carves – while sitting in his living room with his wife – as they watch movies together. He also showed me how (like Bill) he makes the Aspen rounds and cuts the blocks from the rounds. Then he soaks the blocks in an alcohol solution to “cure” for a while before carving them. Fred gave me a cowboy (#9917). And a really cool thing … he also gave me one for each of my three Scouter sons. They even had the right hair colors – black for K.C., blondish/yellow for Rusty and Red for Keith (we got the wrong names on Keith and Rusty). It was fun for me to later present these to my three sons. Thanks, Fred.
A few years ago, I went to our council’s Scout-O-Rama show – held that year in west Phoenix. At one of the booths I saw a friend, Jason Reed. I have known Jason for years as we have served together on the district Scout leader training staff. I checked out the booth where he was working and then saw a rack with bolo ties. I asked who the carver was. I was surprised when I learned that it was him. I didn’t even know that he was a carver – but I guess he was just kind of getting his carving start.
When Jason saw my interest, he offered to give me one of his bolos – and he let me pick any one that I wanted. I was pretty pleased to get his train conductor – and even more pleased when I noted its #10 on the back. Wow! Jason lives only two or three blocks from me in Mesa – and as noted, we have been friends. So, now knowing that he was a carver, Jason has become my first-line go-to guy. All it takes is an e-mail message and he soon has it made for me. I love this. It is like having my own custom carver there for my every beckon call.
At some point when he was feeling generous, Jason presented me with a Santa Claus (Bolo #264). Ho! Ho! Ho! I then began to use Jason to create custom bolos for various occasions. When I was to be the Camp Director of the Colorado Cub Scout camp, I had him carve a pirate (#594) to go along with our Pirate camp theme. Our family planned to have family photos and the women selected blue and yellow as the theme color. So, I e-mailed Jason and asked if he had any bolos in blue and yellow. He did not and together we talked of what I might need in those colors. I belong to the modern Mormon Battalion commemorative group so I decided to have him make me a Battalion soldier (in blue and yellow) to go with my Battalion soldier uniform. And a couple of weeks later, I got his return e-mail message saying that it was ready for pick-up (with #623 on the bolo back.) This bolo looks real sharp with my Battalion uniform! Another e-mail the next year got me a knight (#652) for yet another Cub Scout camp theme. (And just $25 each … such a deal!)
I mentioned Mark Francis. Mark and I had talked of my desire to begin blogging and to publish books. He suggested Justin Jepsen as a great resource to talk with. So, I made contact with him. He had a familiar name so I asked him my standard question: “Who is your dad?” When he answered, “Fred”, I said, “Oh … Fred the bolo tie carver?” He said “yes” and then he told me that he also is a bolo carver. Well, I had to have one of his bolos and he agreed to carve me a custom cowboy – in brown and red. This came to me as his #1936.
Knowing of my love for carved bolo ties, my daughter, Jackie, found a wonderful and unique Christmas gift for me – at a garage sale of all places. This was kind of a different bolo from the rest of the collection – but it fit all of the parameters. It was a bolo tie. It was hand carved (out of gnarly mesquite or juniper wood) and it was a face. It had the face of an old bearded mountain man. There is no number on the back of this one. It simply says, “By MAC”. So, that has me curious. Who is Mac?
I recently received communication from some other guy who has a “Mac” bolo tie – and he has had it for years. He was just as curious as I was about who this “Mac” might be. Anyone have a clue?
My most recent bolo has been a fun one. A couple of years ago I had opportunity to attend a giant Mountain Man Rendezvous for the Varsity Scouts of our Mesa, Arizona Scouting district. I was there on staff – as a part of an elite group of 18 of the best Dutch oven chefs around. (I think I gained 10 pounds up there as each of these chefs took turns cooking their best stuff for the group.)
Anyway, carver, Boyd Thacker (also from Mesa) was at the Rendezvous following in the footsteps of the legend – Bill Burch. So, he spent his time carving and giving bolos (often in trade) to Mountain Man Scouts. But, he ate with our Dutch oven chef group – a smart man! Our head chef commissioned Boyd to carve a “Swedish Chef” bolo tie for each of the 18 chefs of our group. I got his bolo #1317.
It has been real fun to wear the Swedish Chef – because this guy has great character recognition. Many folks know and recognize him from “The Muppets”. So, most folks when they see this bolo, smile big and then complement me on it. They’ll say, “I LOVE your Swedish Chef!” And then I smile too!
Well, there you have it! The rest of the story … and all the details of my prized bolo tie collection! You can probably see why the collection could probably not be replaced and why I love it as I do. Scouting, history and traditions … they all seem to go together. Keep getting and wearing those bolo ties … and help maintain the tradition!
[Side note: If you are a carver or an owner of a Scout bolo tie that you are ready to pass on, I would love to take it off your hands! As often as I wear these bolo ties, any new ones would be most welcome!]
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevinthescoutblogger
Part 1 of a 2-Part Blog Article Originally published in The Boy Scout (the official blog of the Utah National Parks Council and located at Utah Scouts – blog.utahscouts.org) on September 19, 2017
Yes, a grand Scouting Tradition is that of wearing hand-carved bolo ties. Wearing such a bolo tie has always been me. And I have a collection of 20 or so bolos. Let me tell you about them. I will begin with a story about almost losing my bolo tie collection.
Summer of 2017 brought a rather traumatic experience for me and my bolo ties. During that summer, I blogged frequently about the Brian Head fire that skirted around the Thunder Ridge Scout Camp in Southern Utah where my wife and I were working on camp staff for the summer. So, here is my story.
As I blogged extensively about the fire, I only hinted about my prized hand-carved bolo ties and their potential loss in the fire. I noted that as the fire began, my wife – Lou – and I got evacuated from the camp. Sheriff personnel came jetting into camp on a 4-wheeler ATV and alerted us to the fire that had just started a mile away from the camp. They gave us just fifteen minutes to evacuate from the camp. Wow! What do you take with just fifteen minutes to go? We had all of our summer camping gear and belongings in our large staff tent.
We rushed into the tent and started randomly grabbing stuff to evacuate with us. In the rush, however, I did not look up to the tent cross-pieces – from which hung my collection of carved bolo ties. It hit me later that I had left the 20 or so bolos hanging up in the tent. And then I worried about them for days wondering if they were all lost in the fire. And that really worked upon my mind since I have spent years collecting the bolos and most could not be replaced. They were very valuable to me.
Ultimately, the bolo tie collection was miraculously spared and returned to me. (See my blog Thunder Ridge Adventures 2017 that mentions them). This was my “happy picture” as I got them back:
Wearing a hand-carved bolo tie is something that I have done literally for years. It has become one of my Kevin Hunt trademarks. I never do anything Scouting without one on. And they are so much a part of me, that I wear one almost every day – in my “civilian” life. They are just so me. And of course, they have been in most of our family photos through the years.
The legendary “Grand-daddy” of all carved bolo ties was Bill Burch. His bolo ties are now found everywhere around the world. Bill perfected the carving art and over his lifetime he carved some 50,000 bolo ties. He died a few years ago (in 2012) around age 88 or so. But thankfully, Bill developed a lot of carving protégés through the years – who now carry on his grand Scouting tradition as they continue to carve as he taught them to do.
I never saw Bill do his carving – and (as a woodcarver myself – a carver of walking sticks) how I wish that I had seen Bill in action. Those who saw him carve have reported that he would go all over the world – anywhere that there was a large collection of Scouts and leaders and would carve. I’m told that he would sit and carve a bolo in fifteen minutes or so, would string it with a cord, and would hand it to the Scout or leader with its paint dripping wet.
Bill’s ultimate enjoyment was to go to Jamborees (and other events) with a large collection of pre-carved bolo ties to distribute. As Scouts would come to him, he would pick out a bolo made just for that Scout and then after giving them a little talk about the Scout Oath and Law, he would present the bolo to the Scout. (And the sad thing is that almost none of those lucky Scouts realized what a great thing they were receiving from this amazing man.)
I don’t know when Bill began carving his bolo ties but it was before the 1970’s. I say that since I was a teen in that era. When I was about age 16, I read of Bill and his bolo ties in the Scouting magazine. And how I wanted one of those bolo ties. But, that was long before the days of the internet so I had no way of knowing or finding out how to obtain one. And so, for years, I had that aching yearning to obtain one or more of them. I knew that carver Bill lived in Spokane, Washington – but that was all I knew of him.
I had to wait until I was almost age 30 before I miraculously obtained my first prized Bill Burch bolo. And it was kind of interesting how that came to be. I was then a Ward Mission Leader (church assignment) and was living in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. And in the spectacular but exclusive Santa Barbara, we could find absolutely nowhere to house our missionaries. (And that is the literal truth!) And having explored all other options, I took it into my own hands. My wife and then four children were living in a three-bedroom townhouse. We moved all of our children into just one bedroom. And then I built desks and bunk beds in the other bedroom for the missionaries. (We had a house-full but we managed!)
One of the first two Elders (young men missionaries) who came to live with us was from Spokane, Washington. Spokane … wow! That sent off a wave of emotion in my mind. I said to the Elder, “You don’t happen to know a guy from there named Bill Burch – the bolo tie carver – would you?” I loved his answer. He grinned and said “You bet! He was my Scoutmaster!” I then told him of my long-time dream to have one of his bolo ties but that I didn’t know how to obtain one. His answer was like music to my ears. He said, “Well, I have six or seven of them in my drawer at home. I will write my mom and have her send one to me for you.”
True to his word, the coveted bolo tie came in the mail about two weeks later. And was I ever elated. That first bolo was a cowboy and had written on the back of it #6501. (Bill and all of his protégés have traditionally sequentially numbered each of their carved bolo ties.) I wore that bolo proudly to everything from then on.
Another carver tradition – probably also started by Bill Burch – is to put their own address and contact information on the back of the bolo. So, with this first Bill Burch bolo, I now had his address on the back of the cowboy.
I decided that it would be great fun to have a Bill Burch bolo carved to look like me. (Yeah, a bit of vanity … but why not?) I sent him a photo of my ugly mug – as well as one for Richard Hale (a long-time great friend and neighbor). A while later, I received a small box from Bill Burch. In it was a note that read, “Kevin, I don’t do portraits … here it is!” Har, Har! (And there was one for Richard also … and I later enjoyed presenting it to him as a special “thank you”). Mine was inscribed, “For Kevin” and was numbered #29,855. (He had carved a few since that first one I got.)
It was the “bomb” (modern youth term) to wear this bolo. It became inseparable with me. I wore it everywhere. And it was great fun to see people as they saw it on me – and tried to figure out who it was. One said, “Is that Howdy Dudey?” Another said, “Is that John F. Kennedy?” “Is that … ?” My favorite was, “Is that Ronald Reagan?” I didn’t realize that I had so many famous look-alikes.
And the classic comment came from a rather large lady as I sat across the street from the Arizona state capital – wearing my bolo – and was waiting for a transfer bus to come along to get me to work in northwest Phoenix. She saw the bolo and looked at it. Then she looked at me. At the bolo, … and back at me. Finally she could contain it no longer. She pointed at it and then said to me, “Excuse me, Suh! Is dat you?”
Later still, I got on-line (Wow … amazing!), went to the Bill Burch website and ordered a bolo of “Uncle Sam” and received number #37,209. (Bill loved to just give his slides away but he did create a website to sell his bolos just because so many people bothered him to buy one. My mug cost me $25 but by now the price had gone up to $50. And that is probably why I didn’t order a lot more of the bolos … since I have never been a money rich guy. But, I wish now, I had!)
Soon thereafter, one of the wooden tibs on the cord of my own bolo came off. (I don’t know what the carvers officially call those little wooden things at the end of the cords but “tibs” seems to fit for me.) I had the new address of Bill Burch. He had recently moved to Orem, Utah (probably to be closer to his Aspen wood for carving). And having occasion to be in Utah (probably visiting my in-laws or one of my own four Snow College daughters), I showed up at the townhouse of Bill Burch – unannounced. In a short time, Bill, the real dude – came to the door – dragging his respirator along behind me.
I had the damaged bolo tie in one hand. He didn’t acknowledge me nor did he ask who I was. He looked down and saw the tib-less bolo tie. He then said, “You’ve got a problem … come on in!” He then took me into his home. We went downstairs (respirator and all). Imagine my joy as he gave me a tour of his bolo tie manufacturing area. He showed me floor-to-ceiling stacks of “rounds” of Quaking Aspen wood – his favorite carving wood. Each round was about ten to twelve inches in diameter and was cut to about two and a half inches in thickness (the thickness of a single bolo tie). Bill told me how he let the rounds “cure” and then when he was ready to use them, he used a band saw – or similar – to cut 20 or more “blocks” from each round. He then would use these blocks to carve each bolo.
Bill also took me into his display room. He had pegs all over the walls. Each one had a different bolo style – and about 10 or 20 of that bolo style. There were pegs of Baden Powell, Indians, cowboys, Scouts, old guys, cowboys, Uncle Sams, and many more. Wow! Was I ever impressed! He then showed me his personal collection. He had retained his #1 bolo, and every 100th and every 1,000th bolo that he had ever carved. I wish I had that collection now! What a fascinating visit with this grand master and living legend of a bolo carver. I could have enjoyed staying there for hours talking to him. Then he got to my problem bolo. He had a new tib in a box on the counter and had one on my bolo and glued on within seconds. I looked at his pegs and picked out a mountain man – #43,668 and bought this from him on the spot.
While I was with Bill, he happened to receive another visitor. This was his main protégé and carving partner – Gary Dollar. (Gary has worked with Bill for years and after Bill’s death, he has maintained the bolo tradition – carving his own bolos and also continuing to sell some made by Bill. And I later learned that Gary grew up in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona and is a cousin to Charlie Crismon – my brother-in-law.) Though I would have welcomed it, Gary and I didn’t have much conversation on this occasion.
While at Camp Thunder Ridge in 2017, I happened to get into conversation (a frequent thing) with an adult Scouter. I told him kind of what I have shared in this blog article. He then told me that as a teenager, he attended a National Scout Jamboree. This boy’s cousin died tragically at home in a tractor accident (during the Jamboree) – as he was the farm worker substitute and as this boy attended the Jamboree. And after the cousin’s death, this guy flew home to attend the funeral. He said, “And some Scouter volunteered to take me to the airport. And he gave me one of these bolo ties.” He thought this was cool but he had no idea that the good turn guy was none other than the famous Bill Burch, himself. And he didn’t know that he had a Bill Burch slide. As we talked, he texted his wife. He knew exactly where the bolo was (in his safe) – even after all those years. He had her take a photo of it and she soon did this and texted it back to him. He showed it to me and sure enough, it was a Bill Burch. The Scouter was a happy guy after he realized what a valuable bolo tie treasure he had.
To read more of carver, Bill Burch, check out his website – now maintained by his friend and fellow carver, Gary Dollar: Bill Burch Bolo Ties
Written by Kevin V. Hunt to his wife, Lou, for their September 14, 2018, 40th Wedding Anniversary
Well, somehow, my wife, Lou, has survived forty years of Scouting with me. Wow! She deserves a Medal of Merit or other great award for such a feat. Forty years … so a tribute and thanks to a grand Scouting lady! And I am proud and pleased to say that in all of those forty years, Lou has been my greatest supporter and strength as I have served in almost every Scouting position imaginable. She has been “blown away with my Scouting winds”.
Our personal and Scouting connection began as we were both students at Brigham Young University. In fact, we had the same major. That was Youth Leadership or Youth Agency Administration (now under Recreation). My area of focus was Boy Scouting program administration and … you guessed it, hers was Girl Scouting. (But, I think that she “won” … since we later had six daughters and three sons!)
Known in those days, as LuDen (her official name is LouDene), I was attracted to her pink gingham and homespun ways. Anyway, we sat next to each other in about five classes each semester. And she began scouting me out right from the start. (Actually, we Scouted each other … and look at us now … forty years, nine children and thirty-six grandchildren (and hoping for more to come) later. Wow! It has been a grand adventure together.
In addition to our classes together, we also participated in our share of Scouting events together – along with other Youth Leadership friends. We helped stage a large merit badge pow wow. We staged a very successful Den Chief training course.
We were both in Alpha Phi Omega – the national Scouting fraternity (though at BYU, it was a “service club”). We worked together selling (renting) stadium seats at BYU football games – with money earned going to help fund scholarships for other Youth Leadership majors. I convinced her (by nominating her and campaigning for her – against her wishes
) to serve as APO’s “Sargent at Arms”. And, to her dismay, she won the election. (But she sure looked cute in that goofy Sargent at Arms hat! Kissing booth … She and I have different memories of this one … but I love to razz her about being the main “kisser” in our APO fund-raising kissing booth. She denies this one!
I graduated from BYU and Lou remained to work on her “Mrs.” Degree. Every time that I asked her of her progress, it seemed to be further out. I guess she needed a bit more time!
Anyway, I graduated from BYU a bachelor (a feat in itself) and went to work for the Boy Scouts in Ogden, Utah. But, she continued to “Scout” me – even from a distance. She looked for any excuse to let me know that she was still trying to catch me.
While at BYU, we had a grand total of eight dates over a two-year period. And then I hadn’t seen her for four months. After a lot of thought and soul-searching, I decided suddenly, that she was the one for me. (She had almost given up on ever catching me.) Anyway, I wrote up a proposal letter (from Camp Loll – a Boy Scout Camp, of course) and shipped it off to her. She was a bit shocked with the letter and the dozen roses – which caught up with her as she was the head cook at a church girls’ camp. And after her own “pondering”, she prayed and looked down at her pen to find the word “Yes” written on. She still does not know where she got this pen, but we still have it as evidence. With the challenge of being in remote areas, it took us a month to get engaged.
We picked September 14th, 1978 as our wedding day – piggy-backing on my folks – who celebrated their 25th anniversary that day. (And years later, our own daughter, Jenae, and Paul, would get married on our own 25th Anniversary!) We got married in the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When we got married, I was then a professional with the Boy Scouts and September 14th fell on a Thursday – the night of all of my district Scout leader roundtables. My scouters were not real thrilled with our chosen date. And to complicate things for them, my Scouting work was in Ogden and the wedding reception was in Sandy – south of Salt Lake City. Many of my team still found a way to get down there.
We still laugh at details of our wedding. As shocking as it may seem, my first kiss ever (other than by/with my mother or grandmother) was over the wedding altar. Lou was anxious to get to that point. She had been prompted to say “Yes” at the appropriate time (rather than the traditional “I Do) and she said “Yes” three times before the officiator finished the ceremony. Funny girl!
As a long-time camp guy, the big moment of our wedding reception was when my Camp Loll camp staff came and did a rousing rendition of the hyper-active Scout-camp song, even “Father Abraham”. So, I joined them in my tuxedo. Of course, my new mother-in-law was not real jazzed over that scene. Lou enjoyed it, in spite of herself.
Then, four days after we were married, Lou was visited by a church leader and was asked to become a Cub Scout den leader. Lou was sure that I had something to do with this – but I honestly (“Scout’s Honor”) did not. Anyway, she took the job and I often found her in tears as I got home after she had had a den meeting. And she has been den leader so many times since, that I think she has lost count.
Lou was a major force with me in getting an APO chapter going at Weber State University in Ogden. This was a great service on her part.
And true to her desire, Lou got a “double Mrs. Degree.” She completed the bachelor’s degree after we were married – with a combination of home-study courses, classes at Weber State and a couple still at BYU. It was a grand moment when she graduated with her “Scouting” degree.
Lou continued to serve in the Cub Scouting program – in a couple of Ogden packs where we lived. Then she was called as the ward (church) “Primary President”. In this role she had administrative oversee of all Cub Scouting and 11-Year Old Scouting programs. She trained and motivated leaders. She would serve in this Primary role for many years – serving in SEVEN different presidencies (always over Scouting) and as the President FOUR different times.
We got invited to a multitude of Cub blue and gold banquets. And Lou and the girls always went with me. For a while there, we thought that spaghetti was the national Cub Scout food!
While employed by the Lake Bonneville Council in Ogden, I was the Camp Bartlett camp director. Lou did not have an official role – though she was “momma Lou” to all of the staff. She cut their hair, repaired their torn (or split) pants and many other tasks. She often served as cook when circumstances warranted. We did the camp together and had mostly grand times.
My role as Senior District Executive was very demanding. The job involved many long days and then training sessions and other meetings most nights. And then most weekends involved training or activities. It was never-ending. It was easy to get sucked into the job and thus not uncommon to have to spend sixty or seventy hours a week doing it all. The job could have absorbed every minute that I wanted to give to it. And for a while, it did that. But, with each new child in our expanding family, this became more and more traumatic for Lou. She had full responsibility for the children – with little help from me – since I was gone all of the time.
Finally, Lou revolted and said that she could not handle that scenario any longer. She said that I needed to be home more to help with the children. At her prompting, I changed my life – and our lives. I began a new time management approach which gave me afternoon time off and a whole lot more time to be with the family – while still being on top of my BSA goals and responsibilities. It was life changing and wonderful for all of us.
After five years in Ogden, I transferred with the Boy Scouts and began work in Santa Barbara, California. By this time, we had three daughters. When we arrived at Santa Barbara, there were literally no apartment places that would accept families with more than two children (and there were only a couple of places that would allow two children). We had to stay in a motel for a month until the Scout Executive pulled some strings and got us into the only place that would take us with our three children. This was in Goleta, near the UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara) campus. We enjoyed riding our tandem bike (with three kiddie-seats) – from our apartment to the nearby Goleta Beach (a beautiful place).
Following the lead of my mother, Lou made mini Scout uniforms for each of our daughters. These were adorable and they got a lot of attention wherever we took the ladies.
Lou had her own uniform from her own Cub and Scout service. Again, there were a plethora of blue and gold banquets – and more spaghetti.
With the entire family in full Scout uniform, we often entered local parades with Scouting contingencies (units from my district). It was great fun riding our tandem bike with the little ladies in uniform.
Once again, I was Camp Director – this time at Rancho Allegre near Santa Ynez, California. And as ever, Lou was there as the ever-supportive wife.
Lou had opportunity for a great service in Goleta. On our bike rides, we went by the Isla Vista grade school. This was a unique school in that it had students from around the world – who were there as their parents attended graduate school at UCSB. Acting with another couple, the four of us started a Cub Scout pack at the school. And Lou (and the other lady) became Cub leaders for 30 boys. Many of them were Laotian Hmong refugee kids. The parents did not understand Scouting but somehow knew that it was good for their boys. I went to my Kiwanis Club and they agreed to buy complete Cub Scout uniforms for all 30 of the boys. You have never seen such proud little guys. They loved those uniforms and their mothers sent them in uniforms that were perfectly and meticulously pressed.
Lou found these little guys amazing. They were so polite and gracious. And any small act done in their behalf meant the world to them. Lou said that she never wanted to be a den leader again for the “all American boy”. What a contrast! (So much for cheese and apple pie!)
After two years with the Mission Council, in Santa Barbara, I decided that a career change was in order (but remained a dedicated Scouting volunteer ever after!) And we moved the family (which now also included a son) to nearby Santa Paula, California. We had been on our way to Utah – from Santa Barbara – to visit family. We had previously whizzed by Santa Paula on the freeway as we made trips to Utah (never giving any thought to this little town). But, this time it was different. As we passed Santa Paula I said to Lou, “You are going to think this is crazy, but I just got the thought that we are supposed to move to this place.” She surprised me when she said, “No, I just got the same feeling!”. So, after our trip we returned home, packed up, and moved fifty miles away, to Santa Paula in Ventura County. There three more children joined the family – so by the time we left there, we had seven children – four daughters and three sons.
Santa Paula was a good place for us and we enjoyed five great years there. Again, I served as Cubmaster and Lou supported me in it, as ever. This time, Lou got a break from Den Leader – but again served as Primary President – over the Scouting programs in the ward.
When our seventh child – a daughter – was just three days old, we moved the family from Santa Paula to Arizona – to be close to my folks and home. We lived first in the town of Coolidge, Arizona and then moved to Mesa – where the family all lived. Two more daughters joined the family as we lived in Mesa. One was born when we lived on the west side of town and the other as we were in the home where we have now lived for some 24 years.
Again, Lou had opportunity to serve in more Primary presidencies. She continued to support and encourage all of the Scouting leaders under her administration. And she worked to get the right people in the various positions.
During this time of intense family Scouting, our three sons all received their Eagle Scout awards (each with three or more Eagle palms). I am sure that she had more than a little to do with each son getting his Eagle award. (And later we would be pleased to note that we also have five Eagle Scout sons-in-law.)
For many years, I had jobs that would not allow me time off to work in Scout summer camps. We had missed this greatly. But, in these years, we had a unique opportunity. We went for a week each summer to our Grand Canyon Council’s Camp Geronimo. I there served as a commissioner and Lou and all nine of the children could go to the camp for the week – and “roughed it” in a beautiful mountain cabin. And as I did volunteer commissioner work, the nine kids could be out and about in the camp. Lou could paint and enjoy some personal time. This was a great thing. We took our vacation time and did the camp thing for eleven years – a week at a time. What a great family Scouting adventure!
Then again, in 2012, we again began working in summer camps each summer. We found ourselves at Camp Geronimo once again as I was the head (and paid) commissioner – leading the 30 or so unpaid volunteers who would alternate into our program though the summer. Lou, being an excellent baker, wowed the staff often with her cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and more. She made a lot of friends in the staff. This became a tradition that she would continue through many other camps and staffs.
Our summer at Geronimo was kind of challenging for a grandmother. We got four new grandchildren as we were up there. And another challenge was that the only real form of outside communication was via our sporadic phone service – or on Facebook – when we could get service. So, that is how we learned of the birth of the new grandchildren.
Our daughter and son-in-law were in the military in Germany so we took the summer of 2013 off to join them for adventures – like exploring old and very authentic castles and other fun places. We loved the summer.
Then we got back into the Scout camp scene hot and heavy. We spent two summers at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout camp near Ft. Collins, Colorado. We were super short on staff so Lou and I both worked super hard. We were up early and to bed late. Lou was the program director each summer and she was kept very busy trying to get staff and resources to maintain each program and area. She was the camp hero, to be sure! We enjoyed creating fun activities for the Cub Scouts and leaders – based upon program themes. Our “Cubbywood” (like Hollywood) theme was a major hit. We and our small staff had a fun time with this.
We could not recruit enough camp staff workers from the Colorado area so we hauled five Arizona friends up to camp with us – and with a trailer for all of their gear. Wow! Then on the way home – between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, we were climbing a giant hill and made our car engine over heat. We had to be towed home and for nearly a year, the mini-van was out of commission as we waited for financial resources to get it operational once again.
In 2016, we found ourselves working at Camp New Fork, located near Pinedale, Wyoming. We both served as Commissioners and had fun doing the same job together. Our youngest daughter joined us as the Climbing Director. Lou provided able and dedicated service to her troops and leaders.
The next summer, in 2017, we worked at Camp Thunder Ridge in Southern Utah. This was a homecoming thing for me since I had served as the first program director at Thunder Ridge 40 years earlier. Here at Thunder Ridge, Lou and I were both again commissioners. Again, it was a special opportunity to serve the leaders and troops – and to do it together. In all of our previous assignments, Lou and I were given a cabin to live in for the summer. But, at Thunder Ridge, we were given a large wall tent. We had initial reservations about spending the summer in a tent, but, we survived and actually quite enjoyed the tenting experience. Lou went prepared and had extension cords in case she found a “current bush” for her curling irons, heater, and old VHS video machine. She was in luck. She found power just 50 or so feet from our tent so we lived in true outdoor luxury – until uprooted by “the fire”.
We had a bit more excitement at Thunder Ridge than we anticipated. After our first week of Scouts, a major forest fire started just a mile from the camp – and ultimately burned some 85,000 acres over the summer. We were the only people in the camp when the fire started and we were visited by Sheriff personnel who gave us just fifteen minutes to evacuate the camp. We made it down that treacherous hill safely. Then, for the rest of the summer, we took our camp staff dog and pony show on the road and ended up being at various camp locations for the rest of the summer. That became quite the adventure but it proved to be exciting and wonderful, nonetheless.
We made it through all of the excitement of the summer without car difficulties. Our 4-wheel mini-van (just kidding) somehow did it all for us. That is until the last day. As we pulled onto the paved road leaving camp, and at 10,000 feet elevation, the serpentine belt broke. We had to be towed into Parowan and some very excellent mechanics were able to get our vehicle fixed and we were grateful to be back on the road again – and grateful for a safe arrival back home. (Though like all summers, it was a challenge to go from the beautiful Pine Trees and about 75 degree weather to our home in Arizona – with current temperatures about 115 degrees! Talk about a shock!)
And in 2018, we went to the Sierra Mountains of California – near Huntington Lake above Fresno. We worked at Camp Oljato – a great old historic camp. I was the camp director and somehow Lou talked herself into being the program director. She was in a bit of a panic over this new role – having never done this before – but after a week of holding back a little, she dived into it and gave it her all. And she did pretty well. I was proud of her. She reached out there and did great.
Through all of these camps, Lou has supported me with full effort and dedication. She has truly gone the extra mile – and then some. She has not been a casual bystander in all of these service opportunities, but she has given her all – 100 % and then some – lending her energy, her enthusiasm and her quiet wisdom She has truly been a great source of strength to me. All of theses camps, their staffs, and the Scouts and leaders have been blessed because Lou Hunt has been there.
Lou has been willing each summer to allow me to follow my own dreams. We do have to work during the summer because we both work for schools and have no summer paychecks coming in. I tell Lou that we could stay home and work for Taco Bell or similar but if I have a choice, I would rather be out of the Arizona heat and doing something that I enjoy – and where we can serve others. Hence, my desire to work at Scout camps – up in the mountains. Lou would rather be at home with the grandkids or painting – or doing other things, but yet, she supports and follows me. Thanks, Lou, for always being a good sport and going along with me.
As noted, Lou has always been there behind me. But, in a few instances, she has shown that she can fly and soar on her own. Such was the case a couple of years ago when she was the Assistant Webelos leader in our Cub pack. The den had planned to attend a district “Webelo-Ree” campout activity. At the last minute, the other leader got hospitalized and Lou got the opportunity to go “solo” – with the five boys (including two of our grandsons) and three dads. She showed true prowess with her outdoor skills and expertise – and ability to improvise and survive on on the simple things.
That outing was so unique and entertaining that I wrote a separate blog, Roughing it Easy that first published in “The Voice of Scouting” on September 8, 2016.“ This is a good read when considering Lou and her many talents as a camper and Scouter. She really can handle Scouting and outdoor things on her own in a good way when she needs to.
Even after 40 years, Lou never ceases to amaze or surprise me.
Yes, Lou Hunt is a pretty amazing wife (of forty years), and lady Scouter. You go, girl! Thanks for all that you have done and all that you are. I love you … C.Z.
Thanks to my wife, Lou, for being there for me on my life-long Scouting trail! It has been a great trip!
Set a date and come on over! That’s right! Come, Now! Experience the Scouting Trails Museum of Scouting Memorabilia. Just before I headed for the hills to work at Camp Oljato – a beautiful California High Sierra Boy Scout Camp – for the whole summer, I introduced my new Scouting Trails Museum of Scouting Memorabilia. I then issued a broad invitation to come and check it out. That was kind of a mean trick … to introduce it and then run. But, now I am repenting of that action!
So, now it’s your opportunity to get more specific … to really come and check it out! Yes, make a decision to come. And, do it now … Set a date and come on over! That’s right! Come, Now! Experience the Scouting Trails Museum of Scouting Memorabilia.
The Scouting Trails Museum is now open (by advance appointment) to individual “Red Coat” Scouters (who want to come and talk of the “good ol’ days”), Scouting families, or full Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, or crews who want to experience the great heritage and history of the Boy Scouts of America. You won’t believe how much there is to see and feel at the Scouting Trails Museum.
So, if you live in or around Mesa, Arizona … round ’em up and bring them all over. But, if it is just you and/or your family that is passing through on a trip or something, make the museum one of your stops!
Here is your special invitation (send an e-mail to email@example.com) for a printable file):
And as the invitation suggests, bring stuff to make s’mores, have a BBQ, a court of honor, a campfire program, a special program or activity. Let me know what you would like to do, and I/we will help you do it!
Check out your Scouting heritage!
Join me for a “night in the museum” and have some fun on your Scouting trail!
(Feature photo/painting by Artist, Ron Bergen … used by permission)
Thanks to modern technology, I am celebrating today an anniversary that I didn’t know I was celebrating. I opened up my e-mail messages early this morning (August 28th) and there it was. It was from NESA – the National Eagle Scout Association. The message subject read, “Happy Eagle Anniversary, Kevin”. That one got me curious. So, I opened it up and inside it said, “8/28/1968 … feels just like yesterday.” And seeing the date, I started calculating … humm … That might just be 50 years! I calculated a bit more in my head. FIFTY YEARS! Fifty years since I received my Eagle Scout award? Is that possible? (I am not that old!) Fifty years … and old … I guess both are true. So, it is with joy, that today I am celebrating fifty years of Eagle flight.
August 28, 1968 … Ah, yes! I remember the day (or night) well! Fifty years ago, I had my Eagle Scout court of honor. I remember that night! I got decked in my best Scout uniform and looked perfection (as much as I could, anyway). I had been a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout for nearly six years now. I was a proud member of Troop 155 – The Best Alive! I was age 13 – almost 14 on that evening.
I reported as invited to my eagle court held at the old Methodist Church in Mesa, Arizona. I did not belong to the Methodist Ward (as we called them), but that is where our district held boards for all aspiring Eagle Scouts in the town. These Boards were held about once every other month and they would review twenty to thirty Eagles on a given evening – using about six different review teams who were located in various parts of the building. I do not remember exactly, but I believe that there were some 45 Eagle candidates there that night. (Some things get better with time!) Anyway, Wow! I remember sitting out in the old wooden seats at the place and waiting for my name to be called.
The review began with a general orientation program about the upcoming process and then we’d sit for a couple of hours awaiting our own review. I remember being real nervous as I waited with the crowd of other Life Scouts.
Then, at long last, my turn came up. A red-coat Scouter came to the stage microphone and announced, “Kevin Hunt … go to room 5”. Wow! Here it was … the big moment that I had been waiting for all of these years. It was my turn on the hot seat. I wondered if I would pass. I nearly tripped over my feet as I somehow found my way to room 5 – or whatever it was.
And once I got in there, I found myself the focus of three or four old guys. They all kind of glared at me. Then they started firing questions at me. I muddled through the first few and then was able to relax a little bit. I talked about my trail from Gnubie to Eagle Scout. I shared with them some of my favorite experiences along the way. We talked of some of the hard things – like my lifesaving merit badge – where I nearly died trying to pull the guy from the bottom of the 14’ deep pool.
We talked about the Scout Oath and Law and how they had impacted my life. We talked of how I had grown through Scouting and what I had learned. I think the review lasted about 45 minutes.
But, then suddenly, it was over. They sent me out of the room so that “they could talk”. They called me back in. The guy in charge extended his hand and congratulated me as an Eagle Scout. “Kevin Hunt … Eagle Scout!” That was me.
That board was a challenge, but I did it! I came out an Eagle Scout. A very proud moment for me. I had done it! Yeah! I was then an Eagle Scout! Wow! I had made it. I had achieved my goal. I felt wonderful. I walked out on air – hardly believing that I really was an Eagle Scout. It was great.
Well, that’s my story – and I am sticking to it.
Then just a couple of weeks later, on September 12th, I was officially recognized at a court of honor as an Eagle Scout. I remember well the night I received my own Eagle badge. It was a proud moment that September night.
Our troop 155 participated in a quarterly multi-troop court of honor (a combined effort involving six or eight different troops). They were “hot stuff” and we always looked forward to each one of them. There were a few times when there were as many fifteen Eagle badges awarded in one evening.
Mr. Maynard Sargent conducted each Court with great pomp and ceremony. I felt a special tinge of excitement as I heard Mr. Sargent repeat those now familiar words. “And now, by the authority vested in me by the Boy Scouts of America, I declare this Court of Honor ‘IN SESSION'”.
At these courts of honor, the Tenderfoot, Second and First Class badges were presented at the first of each Court. These were followed by the merit badges, Star, Life, and finally the Eagle Scout Award. With each rank, a different “dignitary” gave a challenge to those getting the particular badge. I remember that Chief Miller, the Council Executive from Phoenix, made the presentations to us.
That Eagle court of honor, too, was a proud moment for me as I joined my friends, Mike Johnson (also from my Troop 155), Steve Brinton and Steve Guthrie as together we received our Eagle Scout awards. I have had that picture hanging on my home wall most of the time since that grand moment. (Thanks to my Scoutmaster, G. Kimball Nelson, for taking that photo!)
I was proud of my friends as I watched them receive their awards and my own excitement mounted as I awaited my own moment. Then it was my turn. I only vaguely heard Mr. Sargent say, “Our next Eagle candidate is Kevin Hunt.” My heart was pounding madly. I hardly heard Mr. Sargent as he said a few things about me and my activities thus far in Scouting.
As he talked, my mind was flooded with Scouting memories of the glorious days I’d spent in Scouting up to that time. It seemed just yesterday that I was a GNUBIE working on my Tenderfoot Award. Boy did I have tender feet! … A lot has happened since that time, I thought.
I recalled how I tried to learn the Morse Code for my First Class Award and earning that first merit badge. I remembered my first patrol leader. Randy sure was a lot of help to me.
I remembered that first hike when we got lost and wandered through the Superstition Mountains for a couple of hours in the dark. That hard rock bed sure felt good that night – after we did finally find our campsite.
I remembered the first time I heard the scary Mongollon Monster story at a campfire program. They really had me going on that one!
I remembered my hardest merit badge. LIFESAVING … HOW COULD I EVER FORGET IT? I nearly drowned trying pull that crazy instructor up from the bottom of the 14-feet deep pool. He fought and thrashed all the way. (Knowing what I now know of lifesaving I’d do it a bit different. I’d rap the clown in the head with my knuckles and then worry about resuscitation after getting him ashore.)
I thought of those who had helped me climb my Eagle trail. I thought of my Scoutmaster, Mr. Nelson, and all that I had learned from him. I thought of my patrol leaders who patiently helped me learn each test. Then too, I thought about my Mother whose special support helped me to press forward.
Finally, I pondered this great honor now to be given to me. EAGLE SCOUT … Am I really worthy of it? After thinking for a moment, I told myself, “YES! I’VE DONE MY BEST. I’VE EARNED IT! On my honor [I’ve done] my best to do my duty to God and my country. …
I’ve tried to help other people each day and I’ll continue to look for ways to be of assistance. I’ve worked to incorporate the points of the Scout Law into my daily living. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m doing my best.
“I’ve learned what it means to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Those seem to be lifelong goals rather than a statement of the “now moment” but I’ll work even harder to do these things.”
“I’ll really have to work harder now that I’m an Eagle Scout,” I thought. I knew that others were watching me. “I’ll want my younger brothers to follow in my footsteps,” I thought.
Then in my mind I told myself: “I’ll recommit each day to live the ideals of the Scout Law. I WILL BE … Trustworthy, … Loyal, … Helpful, Friendly, … Courteous, … Kind, … Obedient, … Cheerful, … Thrifty, … Brave, … Clean … REVERENT … (and Hungry … !)”
I only vaguely heard Mr. Sargent as he finished talking about me. I struggled to hold back the tears. I felt ready to burst with emotion and excitement but somehow, I managed to lead my parents up to the stage with the other Eagles. Then there was a lot of pomp and ceremony as I received that beautiful ribbon and Eagle emblem. At last it was mine! Boy was I proud!
I had heard the Eagle pledge before, but it seemed to strike like a thunderbolt as it was now my turn to repeat those special words. A lasting impression was made as I said, “On my honor … I will give back more to Scouting than it has given to me.”
That’s a pretty big charge! … I’ve gained so much. I’ll do it, though! I’ll do all that I can to help others along their own Eagle trail. That’s the least I can do. I know I never would have made it alone. Maybe that’s what Scouting is all about … giving, sharing, helping, serving!
So here I am, fifty years since that momentous occasion. In those fifty years I’ve had many opportunities to reflect back to that special night so long ago. So long ago — but yet it seems like yesterday! And to tell the truth, I think that I appreciate my Eagle badge even more now than I did then.
Fifty years over the bridge have helped me put the badge in true perspective. Back then I was caught up in the “process” of doing it and it didn’t really sink in then. It took me many years to learn the real significance of the badge. So even now, I wear that badge as proudly as the day I received it.
I’ve seen that the Eagle [Scout] is a rare bird indeed. I have learned that those who achieve the Eagle rank are held in high regard everywhere. Being an Eagle gives you a sense of pride and personal achievement throughout your life, no matter how long ago the Eagle badge was earned. The goal setting and discipline developed as a Scout have proven useful tools throughout the rest of my schooling, college and career.
This morning’s e-mail message also issued three challenges (though it was actually four):
“Contact your Scoutmaster and tell him Thank You.”
“Write a blog to encourage Life Scouts to become Eagle Scouts”
“Give $5 for every year since you received your Eagle” and
“Join the NESA (National Eagle Scout Association)
Those were interesting challenges. Taking them one by one …
“Write a Blog …” That is certainly one thing that I can do. Writing blogs is one of my favorite activities! I do not have contact with too many Life Scouts but maybe adults who read this can pass my thoughts on to wanna-be Eagle Scouts. To you Life Scouts, let me first say that “getting your Eagle rank is totally worth it!” It really is! It may seem a challenge now, but after getting your award, you will be so glad that you did it. Through achieving your Eagle Scout rank, you will grow so much. You will have great Scouting experiences. You will build memories of a lifetime. You will prove early on that you can set goals and that you can work hard to accomplish them. And forever after, you can proudly stand or sit in the “Eagle’s Nest” at court of honors as one who has achieved. For, as we all know, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”
I have talked through the years to many men who did not achieve their Eagle ranks … but now wish that they did. They have all had about the same excuses for the two or three things that they didn’t do, but in the end, they didn’t do it. And that fact haunts them over and over – forever. Don’t be one of them. Be one of those who made it! Be an Eagle Scout … “Ride the High Places” (Go to U-Tube and find the video by this name and watch it for more inspiration …)
And just for this 50th anniversary day and moment, I have decided to post my new book, “Gnubie to Eagle Scout” on Amazon [with link available soon]. (I just happened to have it written but the anniversary day seems a good day for it to make its debut!) Check it out, Scouting adults, to relive some old/great memories of the “good ol’ days” – and then share it with your wanna-be (or you wanna-them-to-be) Eagle Scout sons. Perhaps it can energize and get them going with more determination on their Eagle Scout awards.
And just for this 50th anniversary day and moment, I have decided to post my new book, “Gnubie to Eagle Scout” on Amazon [with link available soon]. (I just happened to have it written but the anniversary day seems a good day for it to make its debut!) Check it out, Scouting adults, to relive some old/great memories of the “good ol’ days” – and then share it with your wanna-be (or you wanna-them-to-be) Eagle Scout sons. Perhaps it can energize and get them going with more determination on their Eagle Scout trails!
“Join the NESA …” after reading this, I went to the NESA.org website and found it rather funny that the system could not even find me – even after sending me a message that day – and later after I correctly entered every desired response on their form. So much for that!
“Give $5 … hmmm let’s see … $5 X 50 = Wow! That would be $250. If I had that kind of money, I would sure want to share with the Boy Scouts … but I am still waiting for my ship to come in. I think it must have sunk en route!
The part of my morning e-mail that really got my attention … and held it for quite a while was the challenge to “Contact your Scoutmaster and tell him Thank You.” My first thought was, “How can I do that? My Scoutmaster is dead!” Then the memories began to flow as I started thinking of each of my Scouting leaders as a youth. I very quickly determined, with some shock, however, that the greatest common denominator for most of them is that they have now passed on. (I guess that is what happens after fifty years!) Anyway, in my head, I made my list and I decided to start with Cub Scouts and move up. Okay, there were many of the noble and great ones:
Like any Eagle Scout should, I want to put my mother, Alura, at the top of my list. Though she was probably never registered as a Scouting leader, she was one of the greatest committee people ever. She helped at every function – whether pancake breakfast, bake sale, car wash, or whatever. She was always there. And she kept all of my uniforms functional and clean. She sewed on every patch – hundreds of them! She had cookies (or probably hot bread or cinnamon rolls) ready for me after every outing. She later made me a beautiful display case with all of my Scouting awards. I could not have done it without mom. And to add some strength to her Scouting commitment, with five Eagle scout son pins, she can fly them in formation. Thanks to the greatest mom ever! And I am grateful that at age 86, she is still one of my most ardent supporters! Thanks, Mom!
Joyce Duthie, Cub Scout Den Leader. And it was her father, Ray Sergent, who conducted the Eagle Scout court of honor wherein I received my Eagle award.
Gay Killian, Cub Scout Den Leader. Such a grand lady! I miss her all of the time
J. Darwin Gunnell, Cubmaster. (I have newspaper clippings about Darwin Gunnell being our Cubmaster. I found this interesting as I now think about it … because in those days, he was also my church Bishop. I guess he either loved Cub Scouting, or else he could not find anyone else to do the job. But, for whatever reason, he was amazing!
And Darwin Gunnell just kept inspiring me. It was only a few years later that he became the inspiration that got me started in keeping a personal daily journal. I wrote a recent blog about my 45 Years of Daily Journaling.
Betty Ray was my 11-Year Old Scout Leader – in the old days when this meeting was held on a weekday afternoon as a part of our church’s Primary program. (“Trailbuilder” days were so great!) Sadly, Betty Ray, one of my all-time favorite people, died all too young. But, she had a major impact upon my life. It was a great moment a couple of weeks ago when I happened on to her grave site at the Mesa City Cemetery. I found her grave as I was with a Mesa High Service activity at the Mesa Cemetery.
JoAnn and David Moore. Wow! I think that these folks might be the only ones of My Scouting leaders who are left alive. I will have to go visit them. JoAnn was my Primary “Trekker” leader – which also tied to Cub Scouting. And she recruited her husband, David, to take us boys on my first outing – a hike through the dry bed of the nearby Salt River (below the dam which diverts the water for irrigation in our arid desert land).
G. Kimball Nelson, Scoutmaster! I can not say enough good about Mr. G. Kimball Nelson, as we called him in our 7th grade science class where he also showed off his Scouting photography – using scientific geographic features we visited). So impressive was Kimball Nelson, that I use him to introduce my “Gnubie” book. I have also written blogs about this great Kimball Nelson. Read of him in “Gnubie and Loving It!”.
Kenneth Porter, Scout Committee Chair. Kenneth is also long gone, but his memory remains. He had earned three Eagle Scout palms in his day and he used this to motivate me on to earn more than him. His challenge was accepted and I completed four palms beyond my Eagle Scout rank. (And years later, I issued that same challenge to my own three sons … and they did it … beat their old man!)
Chester Claude Corbin, Scoutmaster for a short while … along with Melvin Denham, – also Scoutmaster for a brief interlude.
And how could I forget Scoutmaster, Jim Johnson. He came on the scene when I was about age 16. I was then Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. Jim and I had such great times together … including taking our entire Troop 155 to the 1973 national Scout Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho. It was with deep sadness just a couple of years ago that we sadly bid farewell to our beloved Scoutmaster Jim Johnson. I wrote of him: Scoutmaster Jim Johnson – Saying Good-bye
In the above a blog about Scoutmaster Jim, I wrote: “I believe all current and former Scouts from great Scouting troops could say that their Scoutmaster was the best Scoutmaster ever. But, in my eyes, Scoutmaster Jim was one of the all-time greats – a true giant of a man! And one of the greatest Scout men ever to be a part of the program.”
Dave Baldwin, was the Explorer Adviser for the very short time I was in the Exploring program. And that is another story. Dave was a really great guy who tried to inspire our hearts with big Scouting adventures but sadly, they did not become reality. (But that situation has become fodder for many a presentation I have given over the years about Scouting program planning).
Though not specifically in Scouting, I am grateful too, for Priesthood leader counterparts who likewise touched my life. These good folks include Ron Wilcock, Augustus “Gus” Johnson, Bishops Max Killian and Egon Johnson. Wow! It was Max Killian who had the resources to inspire us to really go for the Jamboree. We never could have made it without him!
What great people touched my heart and life through their energy and commitment to the Scouting program in my behalf. Thanks to all of you.
Then, on this 50th anniversary day, after thinking about our great troop leaders, my thoughts turned next to my fellow Scouts in Troop 155 – The Best Alive! How could I forget the guys who were down in the trenches with me – and to whom I owe so much? Great guys, all of them. I recalled with fondness, Ron Gardner, Chris Wagner, Bill Bentley, Mike Johnson, Scott Gunnell, Richard Ray, Lance Gavin, my brother, Dean Hunt, Mark Killian, and Randy Maughan. There were many others who could be mentioned in Troop 155, but these were the guys who were more around my age and who had a major impact in helping me get to the rank of Eagle. It was them who were my role models and I am thankful for the many good times that we shared together.
A special thanks goes to Randy Maughan. He was my patrol leader and went the extra mile to help me get my First Class badge.
At this time, I would like to apologize to any of the Scouts whom I may have harmed or harassed as a dumb gnubie doing stupid things. I am sorry. I am glad that I know better now!
Thinking of these guys on this anniversary day, makes me want to try again to locate them on social media and in other ways to thank them all for the impact that they had upon me. Thanks to all of you!
Over the years, we have had a few Troop 155 Reunions and it was always fun to get with the guys again and to remember the good times shared.
Then after thinking back about my leaders and fellow Troop 155 Scouts, I then began to think again of the many fun times, hikes and outings shared in Troop 155. Those were the days! Yes, We had some really great times in our associations in Troop 155. Those good times have been the subject of many of my blogs. And as I continue to think of these hikes and activities, I smile again and again. Yes, we had some fun times as just a couple of sample blogs can attest. (But there could be more written.) Check out:
Originally published on TheScoutingTrail (Trapper Trails Council, BSA) May 1, 2016
Crazy weather in Arizona. What does that have to do with me, you ask? Well, maybe nothing. I’ve been sharing Scouting blogs with you on a regular basis. In many of those blogs I have talked about Arizona and my growing-up days and years there. And since I have been in Arizona for so long, naturally many of my blogs made reference to my Arizona Scouting experience. So, I thought that you might like to know a bit more about Arizona. I’ll give it to you in three installments. This is part 1. You probably didn’t know that you need it, but here it is: Arizona: A Regional Guide – Part 1: The Weather Report.
In many of my blogs, I reminisce about some of the great hikes and trips taken with my Troop 155 in Mesa, Arizona as I was a Gnubie Scout. But, as I often write about such adventure, it has occurred to me that many or most of my readers might not know a lot about Arizona and some of the things that I reference.
I grew up in Arizona and though I have lived in eleven different states, I have always called Arizona home. I guess I have kind of taken it for granted. Since it is home, it has become second nature for me. But, since I refer to my Arizona experiences often in my blogs I decided that it might be helpful to my fans (if I have any) to know a bit more about the Great State of Arizona. So, here it is … Arizona: A Regional Guide to Hikes, weather, flora and fauna. I hope that it might be helpful to you – or that you might at least find it interesting. You might want to also check out the full article: We had Some Great Gnubie Hikes.
I guess the first thing that everyone wants to talk about when first meeting someone from Arizona is the weather. That seems to become the major topic of conversation.
So, about the weather … Yes, I’ll admit that it is generally a bit hot here. That might be why Arizona could be spelled “Arid-Zona”.
Summer temperatures can soar to a cool 122 degrees – the hottest I’ve seen … and I won’t tell you what the winters are like. (That is a well-guarded secret!) In some camps where I have worked (In Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho), I learned by experience that there were basically two seasons there – and those were “Winter and July”. In Arizona, we also have two seasons – “Hot and Hotter!” In fact, we say that your summer sun spends the winter here. One report indicates that there are at least 296 days of sunshine in the Phoenix area per year. And that was probably in a cloudy year. I was going to say “a wet year” but we don’t get many of those. So, yes, it is probably more like 325 sunny days a year. Just sayin’ (as my daughter, Lana, would say)! It may be hot here, but as everyone says, “It’s a DRY HEAT!”
“Well, some folks don’t like the weather in Arizona, but I ain’t one of ’em. Why, the air in Arizona is so fine, tourists stop over the state line just to fill their tires with it. Course, Arizona does get rather hot. But since we started shippin’ in ice from California, our hens don’t lay hard boiled eggs no more.
“As for folks who hate rain, why Arizona is just the spot. We haven’t seen a drop of rain in Arizona since Noah illegally parked his ark at the top of Mount Ararat. It’s so dry, we have to take our frogs to the pool to teach ’em how to swim. And never you mind saving up for a rainy day, cause you’ll never get to spend yer money.
“So there it is in a nutshell. Why I like Arizona. Arizona is full of fine air and fine days. Makes it great fer all them tourists who get a hankering to drive to that Grand Canyon one of our old timers dug up while his wife wheeled the dirt away.” (Quoted from Arizona Weather by S.E. Schlosser – A great website … check it out!)
Well, that is all gospel truth. Yes, Sir, … it is all true! Now I would not lie to you. For, to quote one of my favorite people, “A disposition to commit such was never in my nature …” (JS Hist 28). But, now that I have established some credibility with you, let’s continue …
“It’s so hot in Arizona that…
the birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
the potatoes cook underground, and all you have to do to have lunch is to pull one out and add butter, salt & pepper.
farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
the trees are whistling for the dogs.
you eat hot chiles to cool your mouth off.
the temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.
you can attend any function in shorts and a tank top.
you discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car.
you discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window.
you notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
you actually burn your hand opening the car door.
you break a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
you realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
A sad Arizonan once prayed, “I wish it would rain – not so much for me, cuz I’ve seen it — but for my 7-year-old.” (Quoted from James Reams at It’s so hot in Arizona that …)
Well, I admit that it really isn’t quite like that! We do sometimes get rain … mainly in January and August – our “rainy months”.
No one likes to do dishes – and particularly in the Arizona summer when it is hot. So, someone got smart and invented a new way to save on cooking pots and pans. This is to cook your breakfast eggs out on the sidewalk – using no pots or pans.
My mother often got up early “before it got hot” and would fry up our breakfast eggs out on the sidewalk. And they tasted as good as any egg ever did. We can, in fact, fry and bake a lot of different foods out there. Northerners could warn others about “yellow snow”. We have yellow sidewalks – from the eggs!
Many folks in my part of the Arizona desert wear shorts and t-shirts every day of the year. My own experience taught me that wearing a long-sleeve shirt was the best way to go. The long sleeve provides protection from mosquitoes and other creatures, and especially protection from the hot sun. And the long sleeve makes one sweat a bit and then the breeze (when there is one) blows through and cools you down a bit. And if you are hiking the long pants protect you from the stickery cacti and bugs – that you are bound to encounter.
Havasupai Canyon in ArizonaWhen I was a 12-year old gnubie we went on a troop hike to Havasupai Canyon. Mr. Nelson hammered on us long before the hike about not taking any extra weight. My friend, Scott Gunnell, took one of those mini cheap plastic raincoats on the hike. It was so small it wasn’t much bigger than a folded up plastic bag. Mr. Nelson discovered the gigantic rain coat while on the hike. And then for the next year as we planned the return trip back there, Mr. Nelson used this situation to impress upon our minds the need to leave home any unneeded weight. He assured us that Scott’s mother must have packed his bags and he didn’t let Scott forget it. He also said over and over again, “It NEVER rains in Havasu in June.” So, on our next trip down the canyon Scott wasn’t about to take that huge raincoat. And that lesson applied to the rest of us as well.
Well, we got down into the canyon and guess what? That first night, it rained cats and dogs – literally. It came down in torrents. Now I don’t have an affinity to either cats or dogs. So, them coming down was not a welcome thing for me. We were then wet dogs all of the rest of the week. We had no tents, no plastic sheets, no nothing. We just rolled out our bags on the sand. So, when our sleeping bags and everything else got drenched this made for real miserable nights the rest of the week. Those darn cats and dogs! (And the water even turned brown!)
I grew up in the desert but if we wanted to experience snow, we could drive about 75-100 miles north – up near the town of Payson (Arizona). This was “up in the pine trees” – a real beautiful area along the “Mongollon Rim” – a geographic rock cliff formation that extends for a hundred miles or more across the northern part of the state. And that is where the name originated for the famous “Mongollon Monster” that hangs out to haunt Scouts. (And that is a story for another day.) But even up by the villages of Payson, Pine and Strawberry, the snow is not always predictable. But, we had a tradition of taking one snow excursion each winter season. That was our big annual snow outing.
We’d pack up our stuff and would head up to the snow – as if we knew what we were doing. Of course none of us were prepared for the snow. We’d take our warmest coats – but these would be like light windbreakers. Real coats were just not known of in our neck of the woods. We desert rats – as we call ourselves – just don’t have the need for a cold-weather wardrobe. We wouldn’t even know what that might mean – so, we really were never prepared for the freezing weather.
It was always kind of a joke as we talked about these freezing winter experiences (with about a half inch of snow on the ground – not nearly enough to really dig in with snow caves, etc.) The adults were most of the joke. Some of the guys really showed their true colors! There was just enough snow to be obnoxious. But, for us desert rats, it was plenty cold. And it was still a challenge to start fires and to cook our freeze-dried hot dogs and burnt hot cakes. (That was before the introduction of Ramen as the Scout Camping meal staple.) Anyway, often the story went that the adults started freezing (as they were holed up in their truck cabs with the heater on) about 3 AM – and some of them actually made the whole camp pack up and head home at that hour.
Then after such an experience, we’d all go back home to brag about our winter excursion escapades. And then we’d bask again in our winter sunshine – never to think again of snow until the next year when the northern Arizona weather chilled off enough momentarily to indicate that there might possibly be enough snow for another outing to be planned. (But such planning had to happen fast since the snow would not last!)
One of those snow outings brings back some interesting memories. Scoutmaster Jim Johnson was the Scoutmaster and he and I planned the trip. Up on the mountain, we survived the chilly night – somehow. Then the next day, we were out playing in the snow – with a stomach full of those burnt pancakes (burned because we generally put the hot cake pan right onto the giant fire that we’d built trying to get or keep warm. There was actually a bit more snow than usual on that outing. We were out in the snow playing “snow hockey” with a blown up car tire inner tube – and were having a great time. Scoutmaster Jim was out there with us. He backed up and planned a giant kick to the inner tube. But, the kick kind of back-fired on him and both feet went out from under him. He was a rather tall guy so he had a lot of beef to be flailing around. Anyway, he went down fast
This kind of put us all into a panic. (And that left me – at age 16 or so – in charge of the whole scenario. (That was in the day before the required two-deep leadership – or cell phones. So, that incident alone made a believer out of me for two-deep leadership.) Anyway, Scoutmaster Jim was kind of “out of it” for a while. Then finally he came back to life. He looked around – still in a daze – and tried to figure things out. He said several times, “What I can’t figure out is what we are doing up here in the snow.” (Actually, we were all kind of wondering that.)
When I was a teenager I worked in a floral shop. [We were not related when I started working there, but later the son of the boss married my younger sister.] In our area we had a lot of folks who were “winter residents” (and I’ll talk more of them later) who lived elsewhere but spent a few months in Arizona. A real popular item that we often sold to these folks was small boxed cactus gardens. They were a real hit. l Everyone wanted to take home a piece of Arizona. And in their minds, that was a cactus garden. (Notice that I didn’t say “cacti”.)
One question that they all had as they contemplated a possible purchase – and that they all would ask, was “How often do you water the cactus?” I would kind of chuckle as they asked the question as I knew what my answer would be. I would always say, “That is easy … you just watch the evening news and when it rains in Arizona, you give your cactus a few drops of water.” They would initially think that I was pulling their leg but then after thinking about it a minute, they’d realize that it made perfect sense.
And if you ever hear of a 12″ rain in our part of Arizona, then you should know that these storms mean that we get 12 drops of rain 12 inches apart. But occasionally, the weather surprises us and we get an August or January cloudburst that really dumps on us. So, that is why I should warn you about “Flash floods”. When we do get a terrific storm (usually preceded by magnificent thunder and lightning), the water can run down our normally dry desert washes and sand in torrents. The problem is that with little water, our sand (of which there is plenty) gets kind of hard and packed down. So, when the rain does come, it just runs down these washes in giant walls of water. They remind one of those we read about when Moses parted the Red Sea and then later it swept down over the Egyptians.
Anyway, these flash floods wipe out everything in their path. I had heard about these “flash floods” but never paid much attention to reports of them. Then my own brother, Kyle, nearly got caught in one – and he made believers out of all of us.
And snow … I think it did snow rather heavily back about 1933 (on the desert floor). But occasionally in a very rare year we can see snow up on the mountains that surround us. And the Superstition Mountains look beautiful in snow. The cacti seem to have a special glow about them on such occasions!
After my wife, Lou, and I had lived in Utah for a few years we moved to California and then finally to my home of Arizona. She had grown up in Utah – so she had plenty of “the white stuff” and loved it. So, she was concerned about upcoming Christmas in the desert. She voiced her concerns to me: She asked, “How do you have Christmas without SNOW?” I quickly replied, “You just love every minute of it.”
At first, Lou thought (as most newcomers) that the desert was dry and dusty – and all cacti. But, now she has become a believer. She thinks that she could never return to a cold white climate – even if it was Christmas. And she can almost see the desert as beautiful – when it is green after a rare rain storm – as I always have seen it. The desert is always so beautiful after even a bit of rain. (But, the grass and flowers on the desert floor don’t stick around long, unfortunately. At the first sign of hot sun, they wither up and die and are then gone with the wind.
So, in Arizona you just enjoy the moment as it is there in its glory … and then passes. But, the memory lingers and keeps the desert beautiful forever.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … here In Arizona … and elsewhere Kevin