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The most powerful emotion

As I have mentioned, my father and brothers were active in the Boy Scouts. When I was very young, I was part of the “Junior Patrol”—five or six kids who were too young to join the Scouts, but who were sons of Scoutmasters. We had our own tent, and we went on most of the camping trips with Troop 7 (the Scout troop associated with Fehl Elementary).

As part of this, I hiked to the Mexican border in Big Bend National Park and to the tops of mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. I went on canoe trips on the Neches River and I stayed in a tent and fished for trout in Yellowstone National Park.

With the forced integration brought about by the Civil Rights Act and the subsequent “white flight” from the urban areas to the suburbs, Troop 7 disbanded and my father and brothers no longer participated in scouting. I remained enthusiastic, however, so when I finally turned 11 (the minimum age at that time for becoming a Scout), I talked my folks into letting me join the local Scout troop associated with a nearby church.

One evening, I attended my first Scout meeting as a “Tenderfoot.” I was assigned to a Patrol, and given the office of Scribe (I was supposed to write stuff down). After some activities, the troop gathered as a whole unit (instead of in separate Patrols) and held a ceremony to honor the Scribes. The scoutmaster asked the scribes to come forward, so I stood up and moved to the front of the room.

Everyone started laughing, and the scoutmaster explained that he was looking for the troop Scribes, a pair of high-school seniors who had won those jobs the year before. He sent me back to my seat, my face burning with the utter humiliation and shame of my mistake. I never attended another Scout meeting, ever.

Glen Campbell
January 14, 2012