In 1973, I reached the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 276 of Palos Verdes Estates, California. We called ourselves “The Mountain Men”, wore those ancient campaign hats and backpacked every month into many beautiful places around the Southwest including the Sierra Nevadas, Grand Canyon, California deserts, local San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains, Catalina Island and the Tehachapis. It was an amazing place to experience Scouting, and the fond memories stay with me to this day.
My Eagle project idea came from a Camporee I attended in 1972, where I noticed several units had no uniforms and were lacking basic equipment. They seemed very happy to be there, and I realized what it meant to them to just be away from home and enjoying the outdoors. My project plan was to visit several area scout units and collect old uniforms, camping equipment and scouting gear, refurbish and clean all of it and then donate it to some scout units in a less fortunate area of Los Angeles County. The project required many more hours than I expected, since more than 100 uniforms and a large volume of equipment were donated. I arranged two Saturday events where other Scouts from my troop helped me with the washing, ironing, sewing, repairs and cleaning. However, this didn’t finish the work and I put in over 60 hours of my own time to complete the project.
I still remember the drive to deliver the equipment on a cold, rainy Monday evening in January. When we arrived, there was a stream of Scouts and Scout leaders from two troops and two Cub Scout packs who began offloading the equipment and uniforms. None had a uniform! They were so happy - it was like Christmas. After being thanked by a few of the Scout leaders and boys, my father and I headed home. I remember him asking me “so, what did you think of that, Phillip?” I remember telling him that I knew it was a good thing to do, but that I had no idea what this would mean to those boys. It felt good.
That’s one of the great things about Scouting - it teaches you that it’s very rewarding to give back to others in the community. It’s still one of my favorite things to do.
Phil Blum is the Chairman of the Mid-South NESA Committee.
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