I was never a very good Boy Scout. I didn’t have the guts or persistence to see my way through to becoming an Eagle Scout.
I think I set the record for ‘longest tenure at Tenderfoot,’ which was as primary and low end a rank as it sounds.
I quit in ninth grade to pursue girls that wanted my shirt to say ‘Hollister’ instead of ‘Boy Scouts of America.’ That didn’t really work out either.
I was, however, in Scouts long enough to participate in more than a few campouts. With my hometown troop, Troop 140, I camped in two inches of water. Camped when the thermometer read five degrees fahrenheit. And for at least two summers in junior high school, I spent a week at Camp Massawepie in the heart of the Adirondack State Park.
I’ll spare you all the things you know about already; frigid black water and starry skies where the universe bared all. The thing I remember most is it being my first inkling of myself as a free individual in the world. It was being accountable, being on time.
It was the base idea of clean socks as being more important than anything else, and the foot as the foundation on which the day ends as you had planned.
Some twenty years later, I’m still a proponent of clean socks, which are more often than not a business brown or black as part of my current job with Amtrak. And as part of that job, I have the privilege to be part of a team working to grow our relationship with the Scouts. Most of that is directed towards making the passenger train the mode of transportation to High Adventure Camps and the National and World Jamborees, respectively. It makes extra sense in relation to the two camps large enough for a Jamboree, the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia and the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. For both mega-camps, Amtrak provides a more direct transportation option than any other mode. It seems a very natural association, scouting and passenger trains.
The fruits of this burgeoning partnership were born last month when thousands of Boy Scouts chose Amtrak to get to the 2017 National Jamboree at Summit Bechtel. One particular train saw over 300 eager Scouts on one train to the Jamboree. The video below tells the story of this unique event.
Our next challenge? How to make sure every Scout that travels with us has their Railroading merit badge before they even get off the train!
Girl or Boy Scouts alike: what is your fondest or most formative memory or lesson from your scouting experience?
Charlie Monte Verde
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