Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boy’s Life #1 - The Go Patrol

While growing up I enjoyed being a member of the Cub Scouts and then later, after
graduating from the Cub program, I was in Boy Scouts. I shared this experience with many of my close friends although we were in different packs of the same Troop. We would eventually all move up into the parent Boy Scout Troop.

We were scattered in the four patrols of the Troop and merrily participated in the many events the Troop sponsored. It was a very active troop hosting overnight camping trips several times a month. These short trips were practice for the big trips toDistrict Camporee’ and the bigger Council Jamboree’s.

We always looked forward to those events as our Troop would compete against other Troops for various awards; the most prestigious of these: the “Best Camp”award or ribbon.

After maybe a year or so of fine service my close circle of friends and I had become more senior and were now either First or Second Class scouts. I was an Assistant Patrol Leader in one patrol as was another of my close friends. The one thing common between us was that we were all crack-ups. You know the type, always throwing out the funny comment or joke. Although not exactly disruptive we were none the less a distraction.

Well, one night, it was a Thursday 10 days before a District Camporee we were all at a Troop meeting making final plans for the coming big event. All us crack-ups were throwing stuff out there all night. Finally one comment pushed the Scout Master over the precipice. He called us all out, there were 6 of us. He was furious and declared us the Troop goof-offs. He then decreed that we would now be a Patrol and that we would go to this Camporee as a Patrol.

And our name would be Goof Off’s.

Now to the lesser talented, the less creative this would have been a set back and in fact most other boys would have settled down and acceded to the Scout Masters wish for peace and quiet. Not us.

You have heard of the phrase “Embrace the Suck”. Well that was us. Turns out we were most likely the six most creative in the Troop and this “challenge” was just the kind of thing to spark that creativity.

We embraced the “Goof Off” moniker with gusto. Yes, you read that right. We decided that we would be known as the GO patrol. We all sewed GO onto blank patrol patches, we carved out a GO into the top of the staff for our flag and on the flag we sewed a great big G with a tiny oof, followed by a great big O with a tiny ff. So from far away you saw a GO but close up you could see that it was really Goof Off. The other thing we decided on was that if not in formation with the whole Troop we would run everywhere we had to go and if we were in formation with the Troop we wanted to be in the front. The lead Patrol.

My very own hand sewn GO Patrol Patch:

Off to the Camporee we went. We had a fine weekend. The GO patrol competed in every event available. From Pioneering, to Semaphore, building Monkey Bridges to Tote-n-chip competitions, we even requested grading of our menu and accepted a random evaluation of one of our meals. We ran everywhere and we seemed to have someone everywhere anything was happening. We won many of the competitions outright, the Semaphore and the Paul Bunyan awards stand out. But the big one, yeah that one too.

We won Best Camp for the Rio Grande District Camporee of 1968 (Kit Carson Council, Troop 78). I still have that award and break it out every now and then when I re-tell the tale of the GO Patrol.

We stayed as the GO patrol for several more years. Everyone forgot about the OOF and FF in the name; GO becoming synonymous with high energy and excellence in Camping, Cooking and all around Scouting. I would remain its Patrol Leader until promoted to the Troop's Senior Patrol Leader a year or so later. I would always dine and sleep with the GO patrol after that in fact, the Scout Master would always invite himself to meals as well. Many times he would bring a VIP along as the GO patrol had the best meals in camp.

Great times, great camaraderie, a wonderful experience.

BT: JimmyT sends.


Buck said...

Heh. "Embrace the Suck," indeed!!

I'm a BIG fan of scouting. SN2 is an Eagle Scout, SN1 fell just short... lacking two merit badges to complete his quals before his 18th birthday. I firmly believe Scouting had a large part in making them what they are today!

JimmyT said...

Buck, Souting had everything to do with how I turned out today. I look back at all the boy's I grew up with and very few have accomplished what all of us in Scouting have achieved. It breds success in everything you do.

Unfortunately for me, I too did not make Eagle, I had everything ready but my Troop folded before I could get in front of an Eagle Board. But, it did not matter, all that Scouting stuff took!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

virgil xenophon said...

Here is your lowly Cub Scout from Pack 42 Charleston, Ill, checking in. By the time I was old enough for the Boy Scouts tennis had taken up the better part of my spare time as I was heavily into serious competitive tennis (MY father was Head Coach at the Univ (EIU) in our town--small wonder) and the demand of that took up every spare minute when combined with football and basketball. I was also soured on the whole deal because unfortunately the advisors of every "Pack" in our small town during my time in the program were faculty members from EIU. who carried their faculty rivalries into the program which had their sons in it and tainted the entire affair. But I still maxed out on all my gold and silver arrows for my Wolf, Bobcat and Bear patches plus the arrow & sun webelos patch.
(I checked out the uniforms on the web-sites and I see separate uniforms for Wolf, Bear scouts etc. IIRC in my day there was only ONE standard cub scout uniform and only three badges worn on same uniform as they didn't have Tiger-cub in my day. And I don't see mention of the gold & silver arrow-heads one sewed in vert rows point down under each badge for accomplishments. Have they gone by the wayside too? But the separate uniform bit is news to me--or am I just a crazy old geezer?

Anonymous said...

Jumping in here about the Cub Scout uniforms and such...

There is a separate "uniform" for Tiger Cubs, really just a tee shirt. They are in a Cub Pack, but aren't totally members of a Pack. Its a bit of a strange addition to Cub Scouting. Parents are required to be members along with the Tiger Scout, and they function with their activities outside the Pack structure, but still come to Pack meetings.

The various ranks of Cub Scouts use the blue uniform. They did away with the Lion rank, adding extra time on to the Webelos rank.

The arrow head awards are still part of Cub Scouting till they get to Webelos. Webelos have the pins for the "colors" they wear on their shoulders. Webelos have the option of wearing either the Blue Cub Uniform or going to the green and Khaki of the Boy Scouts. (This is because of costs for the uniform and in part to set them thinking of joining Boy Scout troops.

Cub Scouts also have added "instant" recognition, where they are given beads for wearing on a leather patch, denoting progress toward a rank such as Wolf and Bear. Bobcat is the "joining" badge. Cub Scouts earn that award (regardless of age or grade that they join in) for learning the oath and law of the Pack.

The highest award in Cub Scouting is the Arrow of Light. Its like the "Eagle" of Cub Scouting. There is an adult uniform square knot that adult (those over 18) can wear on their uniform for attaining that rank as a youth.

In Cub Scouts the "ranks" are dependent on grade or age, so if the boy joins late he can earn only the rank badge of that grade level.

This is because the requirements pretty much repeat each rank, with some additional requirements or more in depth than the prior rank.

The badges of rank are still the same shape as in the "old days". They are diamond shaped so they can all be worn on the uniform as they are earned, forming a larger diamond shape (or square turned on edge if you prefer).

Webelos - which stands for We'll Be LOyal Scouts, is about getting the boy and the family ready for the changes from the Cub Scout program to the Boy Scout program. The activity awards are kind of like merit badges rather than a rank, and you earn Webelos rank by earning 8 specific activity pins. There are 20 pins in all. The Webelos is supposed to be an 18 month program with it ending in the spring and the boy moving into the Troop.

Tiger Cubs is for Kindergarten boys, Cub Scouts starts in First Grade, as it has traditionally.