This is a thank you to my father for all he has done for me.
I have been involved in a new venture, a SAHD Pod cast with other stay at home dads. We just had a show talking about the outdoors and Scouting. I’m a third-generation Eagle Scout. I asked my parents if they had any pictures still, and of course they did. Looking back on it now, being a dad myself, has given me a new appreciation for everything my father has done for me.
This post is for my father, who should have already retired, but he likes to stay busy so he has continued to push it off. I could wait for Father’s Day next month but this is his birthday month and I don’t see a point in waiting. So join me in a little walk down memory lane, while I say thank you to him for everything and let him know that I really do appreciate it all and love him very much.
I have purposefully forgotten some of the less pleasant scouting experiences, like the blisters and pain from doing 50 mile hikes with a 50-pound backpack on my back. There’s a lot of stuff I remember though, a lot of good stuff. Starting with my father being my scout master. It put more pressure on me than others, at least in my mind, but I can assure you I didn’t get special treatment.
One thing my father taught me as scout master was that it is important to know that we can do so much more than we think, or that changing the way you look at a situation will change whether you are successful at it. Even if you have to trick yourself into believing it. “You never know if you can, unless you try” is an important experience to have. It’s about ones attitude and how you approach a situation.
One trip after a long hike another scout complained how he was just in dire pain. He laid on the ground and just couldn’t move. My father had a first aid kit that was packed full, yet small and compact and he always seemed to have what was needed. I remember him reaching into his bag of tricks, pulling out a pill and handed it to the scout telling him to take it and in 5 or 10 minutes he would feel great. Sure enough 5 or 10 minutes, he was more than great! He was up running and jumping. Our camp site was next to a river that was super cold and he was jumping into the river having a blast like he was invincible. Later on a few of us asked my father, what was that pill? We probably all just wanted one too, but when he said it was a sugar pill, all of our jaws dropped. Your perception defines your reality.
There are so many things I learned and so many experiences I am thankful I got to share with him. At the time, I was so young I could never appreciate what my father was giving me. What we were doing, it was just normal to me. We just went camping, we earned some merit badges, we played games, we learn how to tie knots, make fires, navigate with our compass to find our way and just went on crazy cool adventures.
I remember one trip, I don’t think it was a long hike maybe 10 miles, we just kept going up and up and ended up in the snow. So we camped in the snow. I have no idea how we even survived trips like that but we did. My father always seemed to be prepared for anything. It is the scout motto, and to this day he lives it. There are countless trips to places like Crater Lake or Ice lake that were untouched by man, the only way in was to hike it. These lakes were filled with so many fish, every time you cast your line out you caught one! He made us stop because we wouldn’t be able to eat them all.
We went on river rafting trips once a year. The Snake river through the Grand canyon, or the upper and lower Deschute rivers where there were class 4 rapids. Class 5 is basically a water fall. Inevitably we had 3 or 4 rafts with about 6 guys in each. On the quiet parts of the rivers we would have water fights, splashing the other rafts with the oars or milk jugs/water containers that were used to scoop water out of the rafts.
On one occasion, one of the biggest scouts was in an opposing raft using the oars to splash and didn’t quite get it in the water deep enough. I was bent over the edge of the raft scooping water with my milk jug when I looked up and saw the oar skim over the top of the water and smack me right in the face. I flew backwards into the raft. As I sat up I felt something in my mouth and spit something small and white out. It wasn’t but a split second later that I realized it was my front tooth. The pain was excruciating. I remember my father took bees wax from his magical first aid kit to cover the exposed nerves. You see my father was an army dentist before he decided he would make more money by starting a chain of restaurants.
From what I remember, it was about ten hours (but felt like years) before we could get to a dentist. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. By the time we found a place to get off the river and into a town it was the middle of the night, so we had to wait even longer for the dentist to get there. I am lucky I still have the base of that tooth.
We were all pretty lucky, I can’t remember any of the scouts getting seriously hurt, and we were in some dangerous situations both from nature and other non nature situations.
We used to go spelunking (caving) in Bend Oregon. A troop of kids climbing through rocks that at times were wet and slippery. We could have been hurt falling and breaking a bone or splitting your head open, but my dad did it all with us.
One particular trip we had a bunch of older kids by our camp site who were drinking. By about 10 pm my father had enough. They were drunk and doing doughnuts in their large vehicles just outside of our camping area. My dad grabbed an ax and handed it to another father, he proceeded to head over to the other site. That was my first experience seeing my dad become a force to be reckoned with. He was furious, I am not exactly sure what happened, he demanded we all stay in our tents – and we did. A few minutes later and a lot of yelling the kids actually packed up and left without any physical alterations. It’s a situation that could have gone really bad.
My father and I also went camping in Yosemite. Just the two of us, a rare treat. After a long day of hiking and setting up camp we had a visitor. A grizzly bear, not more than 50 yards away from us. The bear was slowly walking across the field when he finally noticed us. I was just froze in fear and shock. My dad, calm as usual, took a few step forward toward the bear and started clapping at it. The bear stood up on his hind legs – whoa! He was big! My dad started yelling at him, go on get outta here and things like that. It can be scary getting too close to wildlife, but my dad always kept his cool and the bear did continue on his way.
I haven’t used a lot of the survival skills I learned as a scout, but keeping my cool in an emergency situation is something I know I still have. I have experienced it multiple times, where time seems to slow way down, I can focus on what needs to be done and it seems like I instinctively know what to do. (I would rather not continually test this). Then once the situation has been taken care of, time resumes and I get the shock effect and freak out.
My father was a serious outdoors man. His tent had a chimney inside so we could set up stoves and such! On snow trips, I made sure to be in his tent – nothing better than to wake up to hot chocolate while in your sleeping bag – in the tent! He would bring all kinds of dehydrated foods. We seriously would have three course meals that were fit for a king! It’s crazy to think that we would have fresh made doughnuts or desserts that were cooked in orange peels on the fire. I ate better on those trips than I did at home.
My father was (and still is by those who know him) very well respected and some even idolize him. He is a soft spoken person (I know ironic – I get it from my mother!), but when he spoke everyone listened. He tells the greatest camp fire stories. He was super artistic, hand carving neckerchief slides and then painting them with amazing details. We would build paper mache totem poles that stood 7+ feet high. He knew how to balance a pinewood derby race car so it would win every single time. Sorry that’s wrong, he lost once, after years of people trying to figure out his secret.
There are the little funny things, using Boy Scout water (pee) to put out fires or using pots and pans to make as much noise as we could to attract snipes while snipe hunting. Those were the days! We had CBs in the caravan of cars so we could constantly be in contact as we drove for hours to get places.
My father and scouting taught me invaluable skills that I never even knew I was learning. Teamwork, responsibility and how to be a leader. I know I wasn’t always the best son, but he still instilled an amazing amount of wisdom and knowledge that he provided to me. I would never be able to thank him enough for that.
So thank you dad for everything! If I can be half the father you were and are, it would make me happy! I know you wouldn’t want me to compare, but you set the bar high and I thank you for that because I know it just makes me a better person and a better father for my sons.