Jan 22, 2007

Late, but still a good scout

by Anna Arnett

I would have posted this Sunday, if I had not forgotten how. Ah, woe is me!

How could I have forgotten that yesterday was my day to blog? This morning, as I was getting ready for church, I finally remembered. Could the tumble that sprained my wrist have affected my brain as well? I’ve been amazed how much control a sore right wrist can take over all the rest of me. Though the arm is much better and (if I’m careful) I can finally type with two hands again, my speed on absolutely everything is still obviously slow.

Yesterday evening I hitched a ride (Charles couldn’t go and I still don’t drive) to a Scout leader’s award banquet. Our oldest son, Wayne, was awarded the Silver Beaver, highest award given at the council level. I loved all the patriotism in the scout ceremony, the love and encouragement given to all scout leaders. The master of ceremonies said he recently found a 1923 issue of the Scout Handbook. Way back then (the year before I was born) they claimed 97% of the countries in the world had already joined the scouting movement. Imagine that!

I’ve been reminiscing about my own involvement in the scouting movement. It began when I was nine and my brother Don, became a scout. Since he and I were the only siblings still at home, Don was my roll model for lots of activity. Because he did, I memorized ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee.’ I devoured his scout handbook along with James Fennimore Cooper. I could recite the scout motto, oath, and law, and sing most of the scout songs. I especially remember the last of about a dozen verses of My Darling Clementine that went,

Now you scouts should learn the moral
Of this little tale of mine.
Artificial respiration
Would have saved my Clementine.

Don surprised me by coaxing plastic craft strip into a three inch wide consecutive flat braid that could slide over my hand and snug up beautifully on my wrist. Nobody I knew had anything like it, yet I could boast three or four, each of a different color.

Don built lean-to shelters against the cottonwoods in our un-cleared timbers, and imitated a Tarzan vine with a rope we could grab and swing way out from a perch up in the tree and splash down into the irrigation canal, or hang on until safely back over the bank.

No wonder I felt pleased when our son became an avid scout. We were living on base in Japan when he turned twelve, and found an excellent scout leader. Wayne was so eager we didn’t have to push him. When he needed a five-mile hike, he planned it with several others, but it fell through. He was so disappointed, I volunteered to hike with him. We drove the car to measure a five-mile on base hike looping from our house. We would hike on pavement, gravel, and grass, and help would never be out of sight. We wouldn’t even have to carry water. Wayne kept saying none of his friends had a mother who would volunteer to hike, which gave my ego a special boost.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of our hike, and congratulated myself on my good shape after having my seventh baby, climbing Mt Fuji, and recovering from surgery. The weather was great, and I felt like singing. Then, as the second half took us across a park I wanted to quit. Wayne kept going so my pride told me I had to keep up. Torture attacked my legs and I began to envy all those other mothers who wouldn’t volunteer. I longed for a good friend to give me a ride home. Wayne would simply have to finish without me. No such luck. Instead, I did make it every miserable step home. Hooray for a Japanese maid so I could collapse.

Now, history just might repeat itself. Wayne is pushing me to make that Grand Canyon hike next July—this year! My plans were to just talk about it for a couple more summers. I still don’t guarantee to accomplish this hike, but planning and anticipation will be a blast.

After all, even with age and forgetfulness, I consider myself a ‘good scout’.


  1. Anna,

    What a wonderful blog, even though it was two days late!

    Congratulations to your son, Wayne, on receiving the Silver Beaver. Further congratulations to you for being the kind of mother who would literally go the extra mile.

    Now that I have successfully linked your son's name, Wayne, with your last name, Arnett, I think we have a connection. Did he, by any chance, serve a mission in South America, specifically in the Colombia-Venezuela Mission? What irony if he's the Elder Arnett who served in the same district as I--in Maracay, Venezuela, if I recall correctly. If he is the same Elder Arnett, please give him the felicitations of Hermana Williams.

  2. Wow. My goodness, the Cremation of Sam MaGee - one of our favorites! And what a scouter's spirt you have. No wonder your son achieved the Silver Beaver. Behind every good man. . . I loved your blog. Rene

  3. Oh, Anna--we must be soul sisters--or almost soul sisters. I am a great scheduler/planner, too. I love it, revel in it, and then grow reluctant as the date for whatever activity I have so ardently planned approaches. I am a much better anticipator than doer.

    Good for you for being such a good scout mom. (That's where the soul sistership breaks down)I can identify with your five mile hike, too.

    Loved your posting. I'm rooting for your planned hike. Let me know the day, and I'll plan to sit in the shade with my feet up and a cool drink close by as I mentally cheer you on.

  4. Oh, Anna, what a jewel you are! What a pleasure it must have been to watch your son receive that reward. Congratulations!

    I remember memorizing the Cremation of Sam McGee! I completely forgot about that poem. I have never read it to my kids. Shame on me! I think I will dig it out and share it with them! Thanks, Anna!

  5. Good job, Anna. You're absolutely amazing and you've inspired me to set a date for a good hike too!

  6. Anna,
    My dad found a great scout leader in Japan as a 12 year old (in the 1950s) on a base at Matsushima. He hiked Mt. Fuji, too, but he said he wedged himself between 2 gung-ho little old Japanese ladies and they practically pulled him up the mountain. I served as a missionary in Tokyo and thought of his experience often. Thank you for reminding me. I need to tell my scouting sons that story again!


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