Making Sure


Many years ago during the summer of 1930, when I was 13 years of age, I was with a group of Boy Scouts hiking from Camp Logan to Camp Kiesel on the South Fork of the Ogden River. We had hiked over the Randolph Divide and made our camp at the base of Monte Cristo, where the chief Scout executive of the Ogden Council, S. Dilworth Young, joined us. He was a strong, vigorous man and stood tall and straight. I was soon to learn that he stood tall in many ways and that he exemplified the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

It was on the afternoon of a beautiful summer day in August, and we had arrived at Monte Cristo a little early. We were busy at our camps making our fires and getting ready for the evening meal. S. Dilworth Young visited each group of boys at their campfires. When he came to our group, he asked us various questions to see how we were faring. One of his questions was most pointed and direct. He asked, “Did you put your fire out at your last campsite?” He then proceeded to tell us how that fire should have been put out. He directed his question to each of the boys in our patrol.

Most of the boys had apparently followed the directions for putting out their fires pretty well, but in my heart I knew that I had not put out my fire as he had specified. I was hoping that he would skip me in the questioning process, but he didn’t. He asked me the question, and I responded, “No sir, I did not put out the fire the way you described.” He then said, “Get your things packed. You and I are going back. We are going to put out that fire.” I said, “Well, it won’t be burning. It was almost out when we left.” He responded, “Well, we are going to make sure, anyway. As Boy Scouts, we are trusted not only to take care of our personal lives, but also to take care of our responsibilities to this beautiful earth and the land in which we live.”

I have never forgotten those words. Right then and there, I knew that S. Dilworth Young was a leader of boys and men. I also knew that he loved nature and that his highest goal in life was to be trusted.

He put on his pack and helped me with mine, and then we both took off back down the trail to our last campsite, which we had left early that morning. We arrived there late at night. He seemed to know right where it was. We came to the place where all of us had camped, and there were various campfire spots with logs that were still smoldering. He had a small bucket that he had brought with him. We found the stream nearby and carried water to the smoldering logs. Then, after each spark had been put out, we covered the logs and the campfire sites with damp earth.

By that time, it was too late to go back to Monte Cristo, so we slept in our sleeping bags there that night, and then we ate breakfast and proceeded back to Monte Cristo the next morning. About halfway back, I was so tired and my muscles ached so badly that it seemed I could go no farther. He took my pack, put it on his back with his own, and helped me the rest of the way into camp. Sometimes I was on his back also as we crossed a rough part of the terrain, or a stream, or some deep brush.

That day I really learned the beauty and the value of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Here was a leader who stood tall in my youthful eyes and taught me by example how I should be. He indeed taught me that a leader cannot delegate the power of example.

He also taught me how to trust. A little later in this trip as we approached Camp Kiesel, we came to a fork in the rivers. As I recall, one of the forks was called Bear Wallow Canyon and the other fork was called Wheatgrass. We rested there for a short period. Then S. Dilworth Young announced that there would be a contest to see which pair of Scouts would be the first to arrive at Camp Kiesel. He knew that it would be quite safe. The Scouts would just need to follow the canyons down and they would come into the South Fork of the Ogden River where Camp Kiesel lay.

The boys all chose partners, and I happened to be the only boy left who didn’t have a partner. None of the boys wanted to go with me, it seemed, because they thought that I would hold them back. S. Dilworth Young, seeing me standing there alone, called me over and asked why I didn’t have a partner. I said, “Well, none of the boys wanted me, but I will go alone, and I will beat all of them anyway.” His eyes twinkled, and he whispered some instructions in my ear. He said, “You stay right on top of this ridge, and you follow it all of the way down, never going down into the canyon, and you will get there way ahead of the other boys. The other boys will all head for the canyon and for the stream, and it winds around and around. By staying on the ridge, you will be going the shortest route, and you will get there an hour before any of the boys.”

I looked at him, and I knew that I could trust him. I knew that I wouldn’t get lost if I did what he told me to do. So I stayed on that ridge. Some places it was quite steep, but it was safe. Several hours later, from the last promontory, I could see the roofs of the cabins, the mess hall, and the American flag waving in the trees of Camp Kiesel. I was the first Scout to arrive. I had put my trust in that wonderful leader, and I had arrived safely. Later that night at the campfire, I was given a special award for being honest and for being the first boy to arrive in camp.

I was to come in contact with this great man at other times in my life. On every occasion he inspired me to be trustworthy and honest. I have found that two of the greatest things we can do are, first, to be trusted, and second, to trust.

The Scout Oath stands in my mind as one of the great oaths and covenants that we can make:

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Dick Brown