BOOK SUMMARY: This book is to all Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America - both past, present and future. It tells of the grand adventure of Scouting - from the greenest "Gnubie" up through the trail to Eagle Scout. The book is full of Scouting humor, advice, motivation to achieve goals, and real-life Scouting adventure. There is a "must-read" section for dads and moms of current Scouts.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: This book recalls many of my own Scouting experiences - as a Gnubie ("A First Year Camper") and continues through my adult experience working with and motivating boys. It takes the best of the Scouting experience and brings it to life for any boy along the Scouting trail. It will bring back a flood of memories to the seasoned "red-coat" Scouter. It is a motivational guide to set goals, to achieve them - and to get the most of the youth Scouting experience.

WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: This book was written to inspire and motivate all young men who are presently on the Scouting trail from Gnubie to Eagle Scout. It was written to help young men envision the best that they can be and then work toward that goal.








1 Welcome Aboard, Gnubie! 5

2 Gnubie and Loving It! 9

3 Trailing the Eagle 26

4 The Spirit of Scouting 46

5 Training for Life 57

6 Scouting is high Adventure! 68

7 Adventure of a Lifetime 81

8 Eagle Scout … and Now What? 99

9 The Adventure of Camp Staff 110

10 A Lifetime of Scouting 132

11 Taking a Look Back 144


1 Just for You, Dad! 155

2 “Thanks, Mom!” 159



The sign had a skull and crossed bones and the chilling inscription:


It sounded really bad … ! I wondered why all of the older Scouts had been so anxious for me to see the eerie sign that was posted at the small lake at our Council’s summer camp – Good old Camp Geronimo.

“Uh, … What’s a Gnubie?” I asked timidly.

“A GNUBIE,” they said in somber tones, “Is a FIRST-YEAR CAMPER”. I was then really scared – as it hit me: “I am a Gnubie!” (and wondered “Okay, where shall I run?”) [Note: I first pronounced the word with the “GUN” sound at the beginning but I later learned that the word is said with a silent G – so it is “Newbie”!] Well, anyway, I knew that I’d better be careful around that lake. It sounded ominous for those who trespassed near it.

Yes, I was a green gnubie … This was my first trip to Camp Geronimo. I had only been in Scouting for a few months and this was my first time to be away from home for a whole week. I was excited and scared too.


Everything in Scouting was a big adventure and (even though I was a little – or should I say BIG – fat kid), I was having a grand time. I liked learning new things. I liked the outdoor cooking, the hikes, and the many fun activities. I was just beginning to be comfortable with the troop and with my patrol. I had learned some basic skills but knew that there was much more to learn.

My Gnubie summer at Camp Geronimo proved to be exciting and full of fun and adventure. I loved every minute of it. (Well, … almost all of it). I had fun with the merit badges and hated the swim test in that ice cold water at the swimming pool. I enjoyed the troop association with my friends, the campfire programs, the camp barbeque (which the Staff swore was the horses that had been “done-in” by Scouts the previous week) and the early morning breakfast horseback ride.

I didn’t like the long hike (which, it seemed, had to be made every few minutes) up the hill to our campsite (Campsite 3) – nor the open-air showers. They were definitely not built for the comfort and enjoyment of us Gnubies.

The long pulley ride – which we rigged from a tall pine tree in our campsite, down across the ravine was scary (and fun – after it was all over). You can bet I didn’t like the “Bigfoot” story of the Mongollon Monster that was known to inhabit the area. I don’t think I slept for several days after hearing that story!

I couldn’t get enough of the trading post. They seemed to have a little of everything there. I very much liked the Sunday church services and my tentmate was super (when we weren’t fighting about something). The Scoutmaster was very helpful to me and the staff was great fun.

My Gnubie week at Camp Geronimo went by all too fast. Before I knew it, we were heading home. But all in all, I had a great time up at the beautiful Camp Geronimo (located about miles north of Phoenix, Arizona). I decided that it wasn’t so bad being a Gnubie. … And I didn’t even get eaten by the lake monster that the sign had warned me about (nor the dreaded “Mongollon Monster”).

I’ve had some really great Scouting experiences through the years – but some of my fondest memories date back to my days as a Gnubie. If I had a chance, I’d be a Gnubie all over again. I’d trade places with you Scouts in a minute. Yes, those were sure great times! (“Troop 155 – The Best Alive!” – as we used to yell everywhere we went).

It has been more than a few years now since I was a Scout but the traditions and methods of Scouting have not changed much. The ideals of Scouting, the outdoors, the skills and adventures remain the same. That “sameness” makes us brothers eternally through our shared Scouting experiences – no matter when we were – or are – Scouts.

It seems like only yesterday when I too, was a Gnubie going on my first hike and doing the things that you are now doing. So, if you’ll permit me to do so, I’d like to share some of my Gnubie experiences with you. Perhaps a few stories of my climb up the Eagle Trail will be interesting and even helpful to you as you embark upon your own climb.

As noted, I belonged to Troop 155 of Mesa, Arizona. You now belong to another pack, troop or Varsity team – which is probably very much like “good old 155” – though perhaps a thousand or two miles – and many years – away.

We’ve probably both slept under the same starry sky, cooked the same meal in the orange peel, worked on Tenderfoot and Eagle awards and service projects, and served in the same leadership positions.

I’m certain that we’ve sung the same campfire songs and have both seen the same old skits three thousand times each. (Some things never change – even after 40 or 50 years). It’s too bad that some of those skits HAVEN’T changed over the years! They were bad when I first saw them … and they are just as bad now – and maybe even worse. My grandchildren – and your children – will probably see those same old skits – even after another twenty five years!

I hope that you belong to a den or a patrol as full of brotherhood and enthusiasm as was my old Jaguar patrol. I hope your pack or troop is as fun as mine were. I will always remember the spirit of warmth of that great group of guys.

I’d like to share with you some feelings and experiences that have been special to me. Perhaps you can relate to them.


Those words still give me a thrill! What memories they bring back. I had some great experiences as a boy in Troop 155. Those were special times. Troop 155 was exciting troop meetings and outings, Scout-o-rama shows and camporees. It was summer camp and courts of honor. It was patrols, troop outings, money raising events (a lot of pancake breakfasts), lots of fun, adventure and troop spirit.

Troop 155 is the story of boys – now men … And it’s still alive with a new generation of boys still enjoying Scouting. In Troop 155, I felt the joy of achievement, the thrill of getting a merit badge, of setting goals and then making them. As I remember my Gnubie days, Troop 155 was – and now is – memories, traditions and lots of fun times. There in Troop 155, my fellow Scouts and I developed values, learned to work with other troop members, achieved goals, gained new insights, and learned new hobbies and skills.

The Spirit of Troop 155 lives on! Each of us who were Scouts, are today, what Troop 155 helped us to become. We owe much of what we now are to our Scoutmaster, Mr. Nelson, and the good times he helped us have.

Just a side note: I recently staged and organized a reunion of my old Troop 155 buddies. I shouldn’t divulge my age – but I guess I can tell you (just between you and I and the fence post) that forty years had passed since I was a Gnubie. Anyway, I researched out the guys and got all of the addresses that I could. I sent each of the guys an invitation – way ahead of time so that they could make arrangements to come.

Then on the appointed day, we met at the site of our former troop meetings for a grand reunion. There were about forty people there. The guys came from near and far to be a part of the action. As we arrived, we greeted each other with big bear hugs and even a few tears – as we recalled the grand times that we had shared so long ago together.

And the cool thing was that we were still the best of buddies – even though we may not have seen each other for many years. A lot of water had gone under the bridge for some of us – but the feelings and memories were still there.

After a great potluck dinner, we began to talk. One after the other of us stood to recall some of the memories and experiences that had made us what we are today. Each one remembered some Gnubie experiences. Many remembered the National Scout Jamboree that we attended together. Many recalled fun times at Camp Geronimo. Without exception, each of the guys thanked each other and also our leaders for the great times, the lessons learned and all the rest.

Well, I’ve just shared some of the great experiences that I had as a Scout and I hope that I haven’t bored you to tears. Perhaps you would also enjoy a few recollections of Scouting Glory as shared by some of my fellow 155 Scouts with whom I shared Scouting memories at our reunion. Memories were shared by guys who were in the troop over the past 25 years. I would imagine that you could probably also tell similar stories about your own troop.

My own father told of a trip to Lake Powell located on the Utah and Arizona borders. He said,

“We caught a huge snake and I put it in a bait bucket with a trap lid. Lance had been out fishing and didn’t know about the snake. He came back and I told him we’d found some new bait that was supposed to be real good.

“Lance asked where the bait was and I told him it was in the bait bucket. Lance looked in and saw the six foot snake. He went white as a ghost and said, “HOLY MACKEREL!” Then a few minutes later I pulled the same stunt on Marion.”

My brother Darcy, recalled, as I did also, the 1973 National Scout Jamboree and going to Camp Geronimo each summer. Then he added:

“And I distinctly remember feeling guilty about laughing at the hilarious jokes and stories that Lance always told.”

My friend Scott recalled the trauma of our hikes to Havasupai Canyon:

“Mr. Nelson will forever give me a hard time about the time he claims my mother packed my backpack for the trip. It was heavy and my feet hurt. I was miserable and he just rubbed it in and made me feel really stupid.”

I too, remember well, those hikes to Havasupai Canyon. They were the BIG EVENT of our program each year. Everyone had to advance a rank to qualify to go and we had a hike a month to get in shape for the big trip. I want to tell you more about those great Havasupai trips but I am going to keep you in suspense for a while longer. But, stay tuned …

Brent recalled the hike to Mt. Baldy in California:

“Up on Mt. Whitney, Jeff took some hilarious slides of Dean Hunt and Howard “eating” some frogs alive.” (Yum, yum!)

Norm said:

“I remember being stuck on a cliff in the Superstition Mountains. Scoutmaster Nelson came to get me and I was able to get down … but then HE was stuck!”

My own brother, Ray said:

“From my troop experience I gained responsibility, patience, blisters, dirt clods, oranges, beebies (bullet shot), newspapers and boxing gloves (thrown at a high velocity), good food, and many lifetime good friends. I also enjoyed snow-skiing, thinking about Lake Powell, waterskiing, pancake breakfasts, basketball, softball, service projects and games of ‘Smear the Queer’.”

Ray also said,

‘I remember once when Marty sat on a cactus that was on his shoe and another time, while boxing, when he hit himself with the glove and almost knocked himself out. Kirt got lost twice … and I remember Scoutmaster Jim getting sick after a twenty plus mile hike (which was supposed to be “only about six milesJ. Then there was the paint fight at the playhouse behind the church.

“Blaine would always whittle his fingers instead of the wood he wanted to whittle. When coming home from camp, we would all be tired but Marty would always be the first to go to sleep. After he got to sleep, we would bring out Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls. As soon as we had them out, however, Marty would wake up and ask for some.

“A hike that I remember the best is the first time that we went to Bushnell Tanks near Sunflower. We spent the night there and then started on a hike following a trail for about a half mile. Most of the group was together at this point.

“Mr. C” (of the Troop Committee) had the map and compass so he knew where he was going. He went one way at a little pass and everyone else went in about ten different directions. Wayne and Kirt stayed close to Mr. C. for about half of the day and the rest of us worked our way into a big wash that had swimming holes here and there. Dario had his fishing pole and wanted to catch some fish. He soon wished he had left his pole behind, however.

“We were about half way when Wayne joined us in the bottom. Mr. C. was still on the trail and Kirt was somewhere on the other side of him. Morgan, Dario, Blaine, Aaron, Travis and David were all around somewhere.

“We swam, yelled, screamed and played around for a few hours and finally worked our way to the car that was on the Pumkin Center side of the mountain.

“By about 3:30 PM everyone, except Kirt, was back at the van. Everyone thought Kirt wanted to get to the truck first so we thought he would be there … but he wasn’t. Some of us caught some naps, ate and played around while we waited for him to show up. About 6:00 PM we started wondering where he was.

“We called his name several times but got no answer. One of the leaders went into Pumkin Center and got the Forest Service to help us find him. They brought a helicopter and about ten men to assist. By this time it was dark. After a brief discussion, the search party spread out to find Kirt. Mr. C. went to the place where he last saw Kirt and looked around for him for about a half hour.

“In the meantime, we were getting ready to leave for home because it was now about 9:30 PM. Mr. C. decided to stay to help look for him. Anyway, after he had been out shouting around for about an hour, we heard someone walking toward the truck. It was Mr. C. and Kirt. Apparently, Kirt had become tired and had laid down on a big rock – where he could see the truck – and had there fallen asleep.

“Mr. C. said that when he found Kirt, there was a bit rattlesnake within a few feet of him and that it had scared him to death as he walked up to awaken him. Kirt had had a long nap while the whole group thought he was lost.

“When we got home, all the mothers were glad that we were all safe. They had thought that we had been in a car wreck or something really bad. I guess that was just the first time that Kirt was lost …!”

And speaking of mothers …, there is a section in the back of this book that is especially for moms. If your mom hasn’t read this already, you might want to go and read it to her now. I’ve tried to help you out by talking frankly to her about the uniform, how to deal with you after a long hike and other vital issues. There is also a special chapter for dads. Maybe your mom can get your dad to read it – or maybe she’ll read it to him to be sure that he hears it.

The whole troop reunion experience was very cool (even “AWESOME!” – to use a more modern word). Many of us were choked up and most of us had tears in our eyes. That Troop 155 spirit was still strong. Wow!

Back when we were Gnubie Scouts, Mr. Nelson was very skill oriented and used troop meetings to share his expertise with us. He helped us become proficient in anything that we wanted to learn from him. We worked on advancement and other traditional Scouting activities.

I particularly liked the cooking sessions in the vacant lot behind the church where our troop met. Mr. Nelson taught us all how to cook in cast iron Dutch ovens – as well as aluminum reflector ovens. I still love to cook in these ways – even today – from those great lessons of yesteryear.

I enjoyed long talks with my Scouting buddies on the way to and from the meetings. My mom always wondered why I stood at the corner of our street and talked for so long to the guys. We were the best of friends – that is what it was.

Our camporees in the Salt River bottoms were always fun … and so very “TRADITIONAL!”. I say “traditional” because we always seemed to do the same things. But then, maybe that’s why they were so much fun! Anyway, we had good times year after year as we attended them together.

I remember that there were so many Scouts from our school who were involved in the camporees that we were able to get the school to let us all out of school early for the annual adventure. By getting out early, we were able to arrive at the camporees site by the middle of the afternoon and then had the rest of the day to play and to get our campsites set up.

We always enjoyed the mile and a half hike through the desert and to our campsites. That part is actually kind of funny – now as I think back on them. For some reason, the final stopping point location was always billed as a “surprise” – as if we didn’t know already exactly where we’d be camping. (Come on, now. It was the same place every year!)

The opening campfire programs were great – and so were the competitive events the next day. And we were always in a dither trying to make our campsites spotless before the big inspections.

In my patrol, the camporees was an excuse to practice cooking some “exotic” foods – since we had the time to do it there. While the other patrols dined on sack lunches (that was before “Top Ramen”), we dined on such things as “pigs-in-a-blanket” (hot dogs in bisquits that were cooked in the reflector ovens) or Dutch oven chicken.

We used to plan carefully together for the camporees meals. We would even buy the food together at a patrol meeting held a couple of nights before the outings. This may sound bizarre to you, but I remember that our hamburger used to cost us about thirty five cents for a pound. And sometimes, it was on sale for nineteen cents a pound. (My allowance in those days was a nickel!) I should not have told you that – but I guess you have already surmised that I must be real ancient! (That may be true – but it seems like only a couple of years since I was in your Gnubie shoes!)

One camporee experience of note is the time that we were to lash a latrine for a campsite improvement project. (The Board of Health probably wouldn’t let you do that now … but, anyway, we dug a hole and had our lashed latrine (seat) over the hole. Mr. Nelson somehow got chosen as the man to try out the finished product. He climbed on – and the project collapsed over the hole. He went down with it. We all had a good laugh over that one!

Camporees were also good excuses to stay up until about 3:00 AM (long after Mr. Nelson’s snores were rocking the entire camp!) Sometimes we would try to put a Gnubie’s hand in warm water as he slept. (I won’t tell you what that action was supposed to do!) And other times we just talked – either around the fire – or from our sleeping bags – being half in and half out.

There were lots of other exciting activities in the troop as well. The annual show of Scouting is one example. This used to be called an “exposition” – and that was before the term “Scout-o-rama” was coined. Anyway, these shows were always big stuff. That first year I was in Scouts (A Gnubie!) – we demonstrated “fire by friction” by rubbing two sticks together in just the right way.

[Mr. Nelson always used to say that the best way to start fire by friction was to “rub two Scouts together”.] Anyway, at that first exposition, we slaved for hours trying to master the skill. We should have received an “A” for effort – even if we didn’t start too many fires.

(I later used that same skill as a Camp Director. We got the summer camp staff together and were a part of a giant football halftime show up in Utah – at Weber State College. My staff set up a giant bow-drill – with an upright pole about 20 feet tall – and with a tug-o-war rope – with half of the group on each side of the rope as it was our “bow”. (The rope was wrapped around that giant upright pole and we tugged and pulled from both directions – as if in a real tug-o-war.) Anyway, we got the attention of a thousand or two fans as we started a giant fire right there in the middle of the football field.)

Sorry to get off track a bit there … And at the next “exposition” we constructed a giant signal tower. (In case you don’t know … signaling was done with flags or hands held in various ways – a different formation for each letter of the alphabet – and we “signaled” to other guys off in the distance somewhere – who used the same flag or hand formations to answer us back.)

That signal tower turned out to be a rather traumatic experience for me. I was climbing up the tower to take my shift at the signaling demonstrations – and in typical “fat boy” fashion, I split my Scout pants! I was so grossed out that I remained on the tower (where the large blow-out in my pants could not be seen – or at least so I thought) for most of the rest of the afternoon.

In subsequent shows we had a troop band, a cooking demonstration and still another year we made sleeping bags out of orange parachute material and foam rubber. And what an experience that was! That was my one and only experience of sewing on a sewing machine. I decided then and there that I would leave sewing to my mother, sister, or wife (if I could get them to do it!).

Those homemade orange sleeping bags were quite warm but they presented a very strange sensation when using them. The foam wouldn’t “snuggle” around the body as a quilt does. It would puff up in a strange balloon-like manner – and would be about two feet tall above the body. I commented at the time that it felt like it might if I were laying naked out on the sidewalk. (Of course I had never experienced that sensation – so could not speak from experience – but those sleeping bags helped me imagine what it might be like.) The bags did make good padding under a regular bag, however.

Yes, those truly were fun times in Troop 155! (It really was “The Best Alive” – in more ways than one.) It was great fun being a Gnubie!

So, if you’re now a Gnubie, “Welcome to Scouting!” And if you’ve been in for a while – and advanced a bit beyond the Gnubie stage, you’re still welcome! Best wishes as you climb that Eagle Trail! I hope you’ll build many grand memories of your Gnubie experiences. Live them up and enjoy them now – while they last. Have all the fun you can and learn all that you can along the way. After all, … you’re only a Gnubie once!

It’s great to be a Gnubie!