Man this week marks 30 years since I first went to Owasippe Scout Camp in Twin Lakes Michigan.
Am I that old?
That was a week that changed me forever, I was 11 years old, only having been in Boy Scouts since the beginning of the year, though I was involved in Cub Scouts for a few years prior.
Back then school busses took us up to camp on Sunday morning from downtown near scout headquarters on Lake Street right off of I-94 under the El.
I remember being nervous but had good friends (and I still keep up with a few of the guys via social media to this day), and excellent scout leaders (unfortunately none of them are still with us), and it was my first real week of independence.
We went to Camp Blackhawk (Go!), where a generation prior my late father camped (they took the train), but it was about tradition.
You ate in the dining hall (three years later we switched to Camp Wolverine (Zaxie!), which delivered food to your campsite), and swam in Big Blue Lake.
The picture you see was taken as soon as we got there on Sunday afternoon and then we had dinner and then opening campfire that night.
Once Monday morning came you had a schedule, merit badge classes in the morning, then lunch, then downtime, then there was an archery range, shooting range, watersports, a horse ranch and miles of trails to hike.
There was plenty of time to be with the other scouts and leaders to teach us stuff as well.
We slept in “wall tents” with a floor that was like a pallet and two guys to a tent and you had a cot to put your sleeping bag on.
And man were there spiders and they were no joke, “daddy long legs” that just looked scary.
But the forest and all was beautiful, to this day anytime I drive through a wooded area I compare it to that Michigan camp.
From what I remember that week of camp went quick and before you know it Friday night came and it was time for closing campfire.
You got your merit badges and anything else you worked all week on (aka goodie bags), and then Saturday morning you had breakfast and the busses brought us back to Chicago.
It was nice to be home but this was a great start to my scouting career.
Little did I know then I’d go back to camp five more times over the next eight years.
Or that I would be inducted into the Scouting Honor Society of “Order of the Arrow” four years later (attaining the rank of Brotherhood), and serve on the “ceremonial team” for inducting new scouts.
Also I’d also earn the Catholic award of “Ad Atare Dei”.
And to top it off seven years later I’d be in the 4% of Boy Scouts who earns the top rank of Eagle Scout.
And then even serve several years as an adult assistant scoutmaster after my 18th birthday.
My last trip to Owasippe was in the summer of 1995 after my freshman year at DePaul, I was really able to reflect and enjoy my time there, working with younger scouts, and having plenty of time with the other adult leaders.
We fished, talked and I learned so much from those guys (the late Arthur Young Sr. & late Arthur Cecil), not just about scouting but how to be a leader and more importantly how to be a good man.
I miss those guys but I try to incorporate what I learned and it all started with one trip to camp 30 years ago this week.
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