Friday, September 5, 2014

Rocks In My Backpack

Rocks in my Backpack - Tom Sholes
My friends Nick and Mary from Colorado recently presented me with a small gift, the book by Scoutmaster-extraordinaire, Tom Sholes, Rocks in my Backpack.
Aside from the pranks with rocks the Boy Scouts played on their Scoutmaster, this book is hilarious, and was a fun and quick read.
Tom Sholes, an Eagle Scout from a small-town in Minnesota, moved to Colorado in the early 1960's and was asked (tricked?) into leading a small troop of Boy Scouts. Something about leading a previously experienced Scoutmaster into a 'Troop that has no Scoutmaster' was the catalyst.
This Troop 117 became a powerhouse of great scouts with high adventure trips monthly into the Rocky Mountains for almost 3 decades.  If you made Eagle Scout here, you sincerely earned it.  Even First Class rank had a test (not one in the Scouting manual) that was difficult, yet it challenged generations of boys to do better instead of slipping by half-involved.  As a Boy Scout, you actually felt pride from earning rank as opposed to getting rank advancement without working for it.
This Troop 117 actually climbed 14-ers to the peak, backpacked serious back country and wilderness area trails, canoed white water, followed the ancients in the canyons of the southwest, survived and thrived in snow/ice/cold Klonderees in Colorado's winter mountains.  If you were a backpacker, this was the troop to be in.
The boys Indian-danced with authentic costumes and face paint throughout the state with their prize-winning group the Wasechie Dancers, honoring and respecting the Lakota and Plains Indian history and culture with dance and ceremony.  The boys made their own costumes after careful study.
They also held backcountry and cross country skiing trips with girl scouts, which was unheard of in the 1970's.
On many backwoods trips, someone would get cut, caught, stuck or hurt in some way (as they always do), and the Boy Scouts would just take over, manage the emergency, heal the wounded, rescue the trapped, and would pitch in to help anyone needing help.  Now THAT was what was intended by Boy Scouting, to transform boys into leaders, who didn't really need any adult supervision or yelling at them to do something.
And that is what made Tom Sholes such an awesome leader in Scouting, and what makes a fine book for ex-Scouters, backpackers, river-runners, and outdoors people of all walks of life.  You will laugh, cry, become excited during the trail descriptions and canoeing, and find again that great love of the outdoors.  Thank you Tom!

1 comment:

  1. Good to know Mr. Sholes book was appreciated outside of the Troop 117 tribe. As a new scout, having joined Troop 117 just two months before he took charge, I can attest to his leadership and inspiration. I've been a scooter now for 27 years in the Carroll District of the Baltimore Area Council. During those years, I've relied on the lessons and character Sholtzie taught us back in the sixties. Thankyou for the great review.