Poor Father Was Almost In Tears While Explaining His Personal Problem To The Salesman.

This tale begins long ago, in the dark ages, when bison and bears overflowed the grassland and forests. or around 2004—whichever you’d like. I was working at the customer service counter of a sporting goods/automotive store at the time. A man entered with his kid, who looked to be around eleven, and asked where the camping gear was kept. The lad said, “I’m going on my first Boy Scout camp out!” as I was about to move on to something more dull after pointing them in the direction of the two areas that housed our camping merchandise.

You will be aware that I am an Eagle Scout if you have read any of my previous writings. I take my responsibility as an Eagle Scout very seriously, and I will use every resource at my disposal to support and inspire future scouts. I turned to face my employer, a kind woman who had recruited me due to my scouting experience in the outdoors, and asked if I might go assist these folks directly. With a smile, she acknowledged.

With the camping gear, the father was completely out of his element. Based on his demeanor and outlook, I surmise that he had never ventured beyond the city limits beyond a freeway in his lifetime. He was confused by everything in the aisle, but luckily his son’s unit had provided them with a list of the necessary gear. I spent the next twenty minutes or so going through the list with them, point by point, explaining what each item on it performed, which version to use, and that toilet paper is known as Kybo Tape in scout parlance. There was a lot of laughs at it.

I conversed with the child as well during this period. He had only recently joined a few months before, thus he was quite fresh to scouting. He was excited to camp in the woods, build campfires, go fishing, and engage in all the other outdoor things he had read about. I covered all he mentioned and much more when I spoke about my scouting experiences. Rafting down the Deschutes, touring military outposts, climbing Mount Hood, and visiting National Jamboree—the child was awestruck. “This is just the start, you have no idea how awesome it can get,” I told him again.

At last, a cart with a compact tent, sleeping bag, kitchenware, a small first aid kit, a beginner’s backpack, rope, shovel, water bottle, and other necessities has arrived. It was quite the load, but I had tried my hardest to find the child everything he would require at a reasonable price. Cheap, sort of.

The entire amount was slightly more than $200. Although a photo is said to be worth a thousand words, I could have written a MUCH longer essay if I had been able to capture the dad’s expression when the amount was displayed. It was a mix of amazement, terror, and resignation that left one thinking, “Damn, this is more than I anticipated.” He would be devastated if I told him no, yet he is so excited. I could probably afford this if I just eat Ramen for the next few weeks. Reluctantly reaching for his money, dad saw my boss, so I smiled and deducted 20% from the total. I cited, “A scout is helpful and kind.” Both the son and the father gave me heartfelt thanks. They smiled and walked out with a bounce in their steps. “That was very nice, but don’t ever do that again,” my supervisor added. “But boss, you do realize that they will be coming in here regularly from now on to buy camping gear, right?” I shot back. He looks exactly like me when he was that age, and he will be spending a lot of his father’s money here. Other customers approached, and I forgot about the deed as she laughed and agreed.

But, my dear reader, the narrative is not yet over! After roughly a week, our small, inexperienced camper, accompanied by his father, bursts through the door. This child had images that he wanted to show me, therefore he very much wanted to see ME. Oh my goodness, how sweet! Yes, please let’s look around—hey, I know this camp! I’m aware of your precise location! We then discussed our experiences at that camp, including hiking down the hill to the old camp location, fishing in the lake, the indifferent deer, and the drafty chow hall that appears to be mostly constructed of sieves. I nailed some of the nicer photos to the brag board that we had set up for the hunters who had successful trophy hunts. With a proud smile, this child dashed off to use the restroom.

At this point, dad spoke up and thanked me for a far deeper reason. She had primary custody of the child after a contentious divorce between him and the child’s mother. One of the few opportunities for dad to spend more time with his son outside of scouting was on camping trips, which had been excellent for the two of them. He and I both get a little emotional over it. I told him straight out, “This is the whole point of scouting.” Assist others wherever possible. This is only the very beginning.

They started visiting the store regularly throughout the course of the following year or so. I was aware of the size and activity of the group they belonged to, thus they were frequently in need of different consumable camping items. Additional images were added to the brag board. He received the Mile Swim badge and four merit badges from his first summer camp experience. I had a blast when I first started working as a merit badge counselor for his troop.

But life happens and gets in the way. Due to school and a few additional jobs, I was unable to dedicate the necessary time to assist his group. We essentially drifted apart, and I forgot about him and his dad because of other things going on in my life.

Up until the end of 2010. Suddenly, I get a call on my phone. Deeper and more certain is the voice on the other end. “Is _____ present?” Yes, I am that person. Who is this? I receive a call from that young scout from the store, inviting me to join his Eagle Court of Honor. In my kitchen, I stood there in silent shock. Recollections of lending a hand to him flooded back. “You can count on me to be present.” I’ll even make an effort to wear my former uniform.

Thus, I acted. However, I choose to wear pants instead of shorts. This young kid, who had grown into a young man, stood tall and proud as he thanked those who had impacted his life briefly, performed the Eagle Charge, and pinned the Eagle Medal to his shirt. “This guy right here, he was the first adult to encourage me,” he added, glancing directly at me as he was giving his statement. I tried to be an Eagle just like him. I’m really grateful to him. There were tears.

After the ceremony, I tracked down his father. Both of them were better persons as a result of scouting. He had come to the conclusion that a scout leader (yes, he was now an assistant scoutmaster, oh, the bug bites very hard) shouldn’t be resentful of his child’s mother. Because of this, their divorce was able to go more amicably, and they were able to successfully renegotiate custody early. He seemed to be in greater happiness and was so filled with pride for his son that I thought his chest would burst. His son was clearly destined for greatness; he was now tall, strong, self-assured, and a natural leader. The next spring, he would graduate from high school, and he planned to enroll in college to pursue a psychology degree with a criminal justice minor. Being a police officer was how he intended to uphold his oath and the law. At this time, my own chest felt like it was about to explode.

I still communicate with him. As his 21st birthday approaches, he is preparing applications for the town’s several police agencies. He’s one of the individuals we all want to become cops; he has a strong and unwavering sense of duty, honor, honesty, generosity, and goodness of spirit. I’ve already told him that I would be happy to serve as his reference. He’ll make an incredibly good officer, and I can claim that my willingness to assist him in selecting tents one day a few years back played a small, but significant, role in that.

Offer optimism. Motivate. Transform people’s life. Tell this tale.

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