My Great Memories
by Kent Halstead
Viewing the sageventure.com website reminded me, and I'm sure every former Explorer Scout, of the exceptional training and experiences that program offered. I joined the Explorers back in 1946 as a high school junior. Still working to earn Eagle Scout, the Explorer awards seemed a distant objective. Then one of my high school classmates, Dick Thomas, earned both awards, which at the time was a rare accomplishment. Spurred on by his achievement, I did likewise earning Eagle in 1947 and Ranger in '49, making my home town of Aberdeen, South Dakota, somewhat notable since there were only about 600 Rangers in the nation at that time and few double award recipients. But, of course, all credit is really due our leaders without whom none of this would have been accomplished.
My personal venture as a Scout leader began at age 18 when I became Assistant Scoutmaster of a regular troop in Aberdeen. Nothing unusual occurred that first year until we were almost ready to go to summer camp when I was informed that the Scoutmaster had just undergone an emergency appendectomy and would be unable to attend. Needless to say, the parents were substantially concerned about this downturn of events, and so was I. Our arrival at Big Stone Lake on the South Dakota-Minnesota border offered a second surprise. Looking around for permanent buildings, tent platforms, etc., I found nothing but a large steel storage locker operated by a gasoline powered refrigeration unit. This locker, I was informed, was where we were to pick up our food; the rest of the time we were on our own-no program, no lifeguards, no cooks, no nothing except a few latrines. Well, the boys found this to their liking and had a grand time carrying on far into the night while the candy bars lasted. Then hunger and fatigue worked their magic and we quickly got down to some serious business, planning the menus and assigning cooks, fire crew, dishwashers, etc. I learned a great lesson here, one that every Scout leader knows, and that is "A tired, hungry boy is a good boy." I like to think the boys learned something too.
Later, I was Scoutmaster while in the service at Fort Bliss, Texas, which proved interesting only in the fact that it was fun as a second lieutenant to tell the troop committee of Colonels what I needed in the way of equipment and transportation. But all this is simply to suggest that Scouting is a tremendous amount of fun for everyone-boys and leaders-as well as a great educational experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.