Bucket List #489: Short-Term Camp Administrator

I am now officially overqualified to plan and lead a camp-out.

Seriously, though, attending National Camping School not only prepares me to run or oversee huge multi-day events like camporees, it also better equips me to plan and manage complex outdoor activities for our Troop.

I am chuffed as heck. This was a big bucket list item for me.

Achievement Unlocked: Lose 140 lbs.

I had friends, relations, dieticians, and even physicians telling me that without surgery I was doomed to a life of obesity.

I am grateful beyond words that they were all wrong, grateful for the unfailing support of my family, and grateful for the loving help of G-d.

#findyourformula

Achievement Unlocked: Scouter of the Year

It takes a village to form and run a Sea Scout Ship, and I have been privileged over the past two years to work with a village full of heroes. A team of yachtsmen, Coast Guard Auxiliarists, and Navy NCOs who all make me realize how little I know about the sea have made it all possible. It was great to see fellow scouters Marie Edson, Liz Conner, and Jon Conner also recognized for helping bring this program back to Ventura County.

Note the Eagle Scout photobomb…

A Sweet Day

Phase V does not officially begin until midnight on the 31st, but today marks the start of my terminal PTO, so yesterday was the last day in the office in my career. Slammed right up to the last minute, I hadn’t had much of a chance to reflect on or savor the moment.

Then my son came home after a day at Universal Studios with a box full of pure Portland goodness: a half dozen of Voodoo Doughnuts’ most over-the-top creations.

Pacing myself through a vegan apple fritter, I thought quietly about an amazing if somewhat unconventional career. It was a road sparsely traveled, and that did make the difference. As I stepped off that path and onto another, I paused to pray that this new road would be just as scenic.

B”H

Patchology: The First Goal on The Journey

I suppose that the prospect of a healthy life should be adequate incentive for the obese to get off their butts and change their lifestyles. As a former member of that crowd, I can attest that experience and statistics suggest otherwise. Sometimes you need a big incentive to get you off of a couch. And sometimes you just need a 4″ x 4″ strip of embroidered cloth.

Offering any reasonable incentive to entice people out of McDonald’s and off the couch is not only a good investment in public health, it also begins a virtuous cycle. Getting people addicted to earned achievement instead of instant gratification is a very different kettle of fish than rewarding mediocrity, especially if you build a program that rewards higher and higher levels of participation and achievement.

When I first started to work toward this patch, I weighed somewhere north of 360 lbs., which even on my 2m high frame made me obese. Given that for a long time I refused to step on a scale, I may well have been “morbidly obese.” Today I weigh 216 lbs., have a BMI of 24, and am healthier at 57 than I was at 35 in good part due to the President’s Challenge, of which the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, or PALA, was a part. The act of exercising regularly, recording the foods you eat, and gradually replacing less healthy foods with healthier choices is a powerful start, and was my ladder to a place that I always felt – and, indeed, was often told by professionals who should have known better – was beyond me.

I earned the award four times in the five years, and subsequently used it as a stepping stone to higher achievements. But I can honestly say that this program probably saved my life and my marriage.

It is one of my proudest achievements, and I will wear this patch on my BSA Jac-shirt with pride.

Bucket List: An Arrowman at Last

Ever since I was a Scout in the 1970s I have wanted to be a member of the Order of the Arrow (OA). The national honor society for the BSA is selective: candidates are elected by their troops from among Scouts who have reached the First Class rank, and once selected are then tested in a weekend-long process called an Ordeal.

I never made it into the OA as a Scout, and I never expected to make it as an adult leader. Adult leaders are elected as well, but their candidacy is not automatic: adult candidates are then reviewed at the Council level for suitability and for demonstrated commitment to Scouting ideals.

Quite unexpectedly in 2018 my name was submitted by my troop, and I was called out at a special ceremony at the April Camporee. I couldn’t even be there – I was in China on business. But I accepted (naturally) and presented myself on a Friday night five weeks later for Ordeal high in the Southern California mountains.

The specifics of Ordeal are a closely-held secret, known only to members of the Order. Suffice to say that while it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in four years as a Scout and nine years as an adult leader, it was also transformative in obvious and subtle ways that continue to manifest themselves years later. The introspection, the commitment, and the profound dedication to all that is good about Scouting all combine to work a special magic that leaves one profoundly renewed and without the need for mind-altering substances.

I would not be an Arrowman without the patience and help of others, especially my mentor Dan Estabrook, my wife Sunny, and my son Aaron. Becoming a part of the OA was one of my life’s great experiences, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

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