Sunday, September 21, 2014

Of Knives, Fires, and S ’mores

I hope I made it clear that not all of my scouting placed a horrible scar on my young psyche. I had many enjoyable and sometimes laughable times as a scout. So now that I have bored even the hardiest of readers with my personal scouting experiences, I want to take the time to reflect on some of my more happy memories.

The first one that comes to mind was our day hike at the Sunol Park just east of Fremont. Jim and Carol Harris were the Blazer Scout leaders and drove our small patrol out to the park. This was our first true scouting experience as young boys. Our parents weren't with us. He had on our uniforms. Better yet, there was to be a camp fire.

I am not sure why, but as a rule, young boys are attracted to two things, knives and fires. Weeks prior to the day hike the Harrises taught us how to use a pocket knife and how to build a fire. We weren't allowed to use an ax at this time in our Scouting career, but Br. Harris should us how to create a feather stick by carving an end of a stick into kindling strips.

During Primary, we could only watch as Br. Harris transformed a plain on stick into the coolest looking feather stick. We were all anxious to try our skill at more than just carving soap.

When we got to the park we did our token hike, which none of us boys wanted to do. All we wanted as to make a fire by carving our own feather sticks. Of course, there was the promise of S’ mores that would result from our successful fire.

We finally finished the hike and got to our fire pit. While on the hike, each of us chose our perfect stick. As soon as we got permission, as we were all 11 years old we still respected the idea of permission, we each pulled out our knives and started carving.

As usual, watching a feather stick being made was a lot easier than actually making one. Rather than having a stick that was flush with carving feathers, we were too inexperienced and too hasty to slowly coax the wood into shavings. We all wound up with smooth stick and all the shavings scattered on the ground.

One of the boys got discouraged and closed his pocket knife in frustration. Now, we were clearly taught to remove our hand from the receiving side of a pocket knife when closing the blade. If you were not careful, the blade would close on your finger a cut it.

We all knew this. We practiced opening and closing the blade numerous times. It became second nature to us. Well, my poor fellow Blazer Scout was so frustrated with is inability make a feather stick that he forgot to remove his hand from the receiving side of the pocket knife.

All I remember was a loud scream and a fair amount of blood running down my friend’s arm. Most of us had never seen blood running down someone’s arm. Each one of us brave Blazers just stood there staring at our poor friend’s misfortune.

I was carving my stick next to my good friend Jeff Moore. Within seconds of our colleague slicing many and his fingers and bleeding profusely, poor Jeff passed out. Now we had two new experiences – blood running down someone’s arm and one of us fainting.

So, here is our situation. We have one boy bleeding and screaming. We have another boy lying passed out of the ground, and we have handful of other boys, with their knives still open, wondering if they should scream, faint, or cry. We knew one thing for sure; none of us was  going to close our pocket knives.

Lucky for the cool heads of the Harrises. Rather than panic, as each of their Blazer Scouts started turning pales and began to swoon, they simply said: “Now this is a great time to practice our first aid that we have been learning.”

Within minutes, Sister Harris had the boys bleeding stopped and assured him he had some minor cuts that would not result in amputation. Br. Harris had revived Jeff and he was soon lying on the ground with his feet elevated on a rock.

Seeing that all the boys would survive, Br. Harris started the fire using our poor excuses of feather sticks, and Sister Harris cooked the S’ mores. As soon as we saw the flames and had a chance to burn our marshmallows, we put our tragedy behind us and had a great time.

Thank heavens for great adult leaders. 

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