I am the oldest daughter of a gung-ho Scoutmaster. My fond memories include being awakened at 3:00 in the morning by some 20 Scouts “quietly” getting ready for camp. Their soft, gentle sounds included trucks being loaded, backpacks getting a shakedown, the phone ringing off the wall (moms were already worried), and the bugle boy frantically practicing taps while a nonbugler echoed his attempts. These memories stretch on to include the scene a week later when the same troop was sprawled across the front lawn, exhausted, dirty, smelly, and somehow magically changed to men.
Other experiences included walking out to the garage and finding tents, packs, cooking kits, grills, flags, ropes, saws, poles, ground covers, and anything else a Scout troop might need. And always, in one corner, there was a pile of newspapers, chocolate caramels, light bulbs, or Christmas wreaths. These were the money-making projects. At the front of the garage, nailed to the wall, was an old, wrinkled, brown notebook. Ancient hieroglyphics could be found scribbled throughout. Entries such as “Moose, 1 backpack and cook kit” or “Pee Wee, 1 pup tent” recorded the progress of young men getting ready to rough it.
I also recall many less-than-delightful camping experiences, such as visiting a Scout camp and eating watery, salty, mashed potatoes. But nobody said anything about the potatoes because (a) the cook was a Tenderfoot, and (b) he had to cook them over an open fire in the rain.
Unfortunately, my memories also include the terrified calls of a mother and a policeman saying, “He’s high on drugs. He’s in trouble. He has to talk to someone. He says he’ll talk to you, Mr. Hasler.”
Happy memories go back to a fireside for young people ages 18 to 26. One young man ran into the kitchen, grabbed my dad, and escorted him right into the middle of the group. The young man, who once was a little terror, then stood taller than my dad. He put his arm across dad’s shoulders and announced, “Brothers and sisters, I’d like you to meet my old Scoutmaster. He’s a very good man.”
I can also recall seeing letters in our mailbox from missionaries serving all over the world. The letters would be decorated with hand-drawn pictures of campfires, tents, and pocketknives. They would be addressed to “Scoutmaster Hasler.”
One of the most surprising memories includes the fact that being a Scoutmaster means being a marriage counselor. One day, several years ago, a young man came running excitedly to our front door. He asked for Mr. Hasler. When dad came to the door, he pointed to the young girl in the car parked at the curb, and said, “We want to get married, but we’ve got to talk to someone first.”
Many years have passed since those Scouting days, and I have a family of my own, yet I find strange signs that show I’m still affected by this Scouting background. These signs include watching the Walt Disney movie “Follow Me Boys” and crying the whole time because it brings back my Scouting memories.
One experience that proves I am indoctrinated into Scouting happened on August 9, 1976, at 5:00 in the morning. My husband and I were frantically trying to get to the hospital. Our first child was about to be born. Instead of immediately calling the hospital or the doctor, my husband first called my father. You see, dad was packing to leave for a week at Scout camp. We wanted him to know that his first grandchild was on the way.
A few minutes later, dad stopped by in his Scout uniform to wish me luck and tell us to let him know if it was a boy or a girl. Then, as my husband and I walked out to our car, dad walked out to his truck to the waiting Scouts. Seven hours later we had a miniature Scout of our own. We tried to get the news to grandpa. Word was sent with a Scout who joined the others the next day. The message dad received was, “Mr. Hasler, you’re a grandpa, but I can’t remember if it was a girl or a boy.” Three and a half days later, dad finally found out he had a grandson.
My father’s calling as a Scoutmaster will have an effect on me for the rest of my life. Now I hope it affects all my sons. I want it to touch their lives so much that they will always “Be Prepared.”