Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 10, 2010

Rare Meat and Wet Ground

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I was a Boy Scout.  Scouting was an important part of my life, and I am forever grateful for the contribution it made to my life.  I believe that many of the physical skills and abilities I have are the result of scouting.  I also believe that the values of scouting reinforced my home and church disciplines.

I remember the excitement of being old enough to join the Boy Scouts.  I was so eager and applied myself to obtaining the various ranks in scouting, as fast as possible.  I had to begin with becoming a Tenderfoot.  This was the elementary rank and an introduction to scouting.

One of the requirements was an overnight camping trip.  There were many things to accomplish during this trip.  The two most serious were cooking and pitching the tent.  I had never cooked on an open fire.  I read the manual well and rehearsed it in my mind.  I had to build the fire and then cook a piece of beef over the open flame.  I accomplished all this without any difficulty.  The only part that was a surprise was that I had to eat what I cooked!  Again, I knew this would be no problem.  As I began to eat the meat, I realized that it was extremely red inside and that the juice was red.  The scout leader inquired, “Is that the way you like your meat?”

I confess that I knew nothing about rare meat, well done, or other ways people might eat it.  I only knew the way my mother cooked it, and always when I ate at home, the meat had no juice inside and the color was never red!  I wanted to be a scout so bad, and I didn’t want to seem ignorant of what I had done, so I replied with a contented look, “Yes, sir, this is the way I like it.”

I ate it . . . it was terrible!  I have never liked rare meat since that day!  It is a vivid memory that I do not care to relive, but I did pass the cooking requirement!  The book did not say how the meat had to be cooked . . . only that I had to eat what I cooked!  I ate it!

But that was not the only mistake I made on this important overnight camping trip.  We had to pitch our tent properly.  The tents were army surplus.  They were of canvas without a floor.  They were small pup-tents that had to be staked.  After the tents were pitched, they were to be ditched.  A small ditch needed to be dug around the tent in case of rain and running water.  The ditch would prevent the water from running through the tent.  Without a floor, the running water would totally wet the bed roll.  This was prior to sleeping bags, of course.

Unfortunately, it rained that night!  I learned well how to ditch a tent!  But I learned how to do it properly though not doing it right!  The ditch was not deep enough or sufficient to divert the water that came down the hill from the rain.  I did not even have a ground cloth and so my bedding got wet.  The old canvas tent was coated to keep the soaking rain from finally dripping through–that is if you did not touch the canvas from the inside with your hand.  We were so fascinated by this, and without a thought of the consequences, my partner and I began to push on the canvas just to see if the moisture would come in.  And it did!

It was a miserable night, but an unforgettable night.  We had too much pride to tell the others of our awful night.  But I earned my Tenderfoot Badge!  It was not a requirement that you stayed dry or that you ate rare meat.  So, sick inside from the meat and wet outside from the rain, I was now officially a Boy Scout.

This would lead to many successful camping experiences, ranks, and merit badges.  Most of all, it was the beginning of the development of a young boy.  That is one of  the great contributions of scouting!  I learned though experience the consequences of doing things the wrong way . . . and I learned the joys of doing things right!

“For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a discipline and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young–let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance . . . .”  (Proverbs 1:2-5)



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