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Monday, November 24, 2014

At 63, Am I Old Enough for Scouting?

by Gil Camporazo

TL Malihan and me
TL Malihan and me
I am recalling my unforgettable experiences when I attended the recent 5-day 75th Diamond Jubilee Jamborette of Negros Occidental Council of Boy Scout of the Philippines held at the Gawahon Eco-Park, Victorias City, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

More than 6,000 boy scouts and troop leaders were registered attending. They came from all Boy Scout councils all over the towns and cities of Negros Occidental.

A day before the formal opening of the jamborette, the camp site was heavily soaked by a whole day downpour, making the place muddy, slippery and not conducive for outdoor camping especially for the kids and for the inexperience.

However, in any scouting activities especially outdoor camping, it is not complete without rain. Veteran scouters, scouts are already used to that kind of inconveniences. Whatever matters, they've to survive. That’s the life of a true-blooded scout.

Me at the shortcut in going up to our camp site
Me at the shortcut in going up to our camp site
First Ordeal

To make some purchases for personal needs and food to eat, I had to go down from the hilly part where our sub-camp was located. I had to pass the muddy path that headed to the gym which the authorized vendors were selling their wares. I had to be careful to go through the slippery downward way. I took a 2-meter bamboo slit for my staff to prevent myself from sliding or tumbling down the hill.

I started moving past nine in the morning. It took me 20 minutes to reach the designated jambo market place which was about 300 meters away from our camp site. I got back almost one in the afternoon. It was about the opening rites to begin. I had to waddle to the ankle-deep mud and to climb the slippery hill to reach the grand arena where the program would be held.

The program started nearly three in the afternoon and concluded after a 45-minute ceremonies and messages from the scouting dignitaries and scout commissioners from different towns and cities. I left the grand arena for 15 minutes after I took some pictures and trod a narrow path going uphill to our site.

I took the shortcut, crossing over an improvised fence of Hinigaran contingent. I struggled to let my right foot out from on the ankle-deep mud. I was able to make it, but I slipped and came down to my left knee. One of the boys present in that place helped to get up. Gradually I reached our tent and I took a rest for a while before I fed myself of an afternoon snack which my teacher-troop leader prepared.

Panoramic view in going up to the camp site
Panoramic view in going up to the camp site
Second Ordeal

It was 30 minutes before five. My wife texted me. Alas, I couldn't read her message. I failed to wear my reading glasses. I searched my trousers’ pocket, left and right. I also looked it to the latrine where I urinated, but found it nowhere. I even asked help from our boy scouts to find it in and out of our tent. But no glasses. I also requested a handyman who used to help our contingent since the putting up of the tent the day we arrived to recheck the latrine. The same no eye glasses were found.

It’s almost five and I was disturbed for I couldn't read and even text back my wife for her message. I kept on recalling, retracing my whereabouts. An idea snapped why not getting back to the place where I accidentally slipped for that’s the only possible place where my eye glasses were lost. I had to take my bamboo staff and gradually struggled back to that place. While approaching the place, in a distant I saw a sprawling object embedded in a trodden muddy ground. I came nearer. Eureka! It’s my lost reading eye glasses. A helpful boy scout picked it up and gave it back to me. I was thankful then.

The place where I slipped and knelt down for it was too slippery
The place where I slipped and knelt down for it was too slippery

Third Ordeal

On the third day was the schedule of our Wood Badge Reunion at the ruins near the park swimming park, 7 o'clock in the evening. It’s good the ground was dry and getting a slip to a muddy, slippery hilly part of our site in going to the venue of our reunion. It’s past 7 when I started moving out. I brought along with a meter-branch for my staff. I was wearing an official Boy Scout uniform with Wood Badge insignias, neckerchief and beads.

Scouter Garredo and me at the main entrance of the camp site
Scouter Garredo and me at the main entrance of the camp site
Our reunion program started at 8. 11 wood badge holders were donned and received their official neckerchiefs and two beads. We sang the Wood Badge theme song, “Going Back to Gilwell”. I was able to be reunited with my fellow “Balud” patrol members. It was indeed a memorable event for that night. The ceremonies were done. Foods were served. Picture-taking ensued. But a heavy downpour prevented everyone to head back to his camp site.

I sighed. I had to waddle again the ankle-deep mud. I had to be clever and watchful not slip in the slippery mud that covered the path in going to our tent, 150-meter away from our reunion venue. Added to my difficulty was the darkness along the path which only a limited lighting from isolated electric incandescent bulb hangs in the selected branch of the trees. Could I make it alone for I had no companion, except a tree-branch staff? Besides I was a carrying in my hand a breakable Wood Badge mug token.

I had no choice but to proceed. Although, there’s an inch-plastic rope that attached to every trunk of the tree, which served as a safety handle for a scout to hold on in going to and fro their camp, but I had to do it for myself. While I started going, the rain started falling. I was half-way to our place when I couldn’t make it in going up. My shoes were stuck on the mud. I asked myself: “Do I have to crawl?” or “Do I Have to go back?” I minded them not. I proceeded. I struggled in moving in a very slow pace. Suddenly, a Senior Scout in a pair of rubber boats and with a flashlight came to the rescue. He held my right hand and I managed to walk, inch by inch. I was almost 50 meters to our tent. He left me and fetched three Senior Scouts from our contingent to finally assist me until I reached our tent.

Only two scouts aided me. They held my both hands and I felt at ease in walking. We made a detour in going to our tent for it was too slippery in taking the regular way to our place. The path was full of mud. It was too slippery. I reached the place at the back door and it was already past nine in the evening. I could imagine an hour of walking back to our site. As a 63-year old scout, am I old already in whom I couldn't make in going back to our tent?

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