Dear friends:

I wish I had gone farther.

I wish I had gone farther as a Scout, I mean. When I was a child I eagerly became an active Cub Scout in the program sponsored by my church. For me the highlight of the Scouting program year was the annual Pinewood Derby . To prepare an entry into this event, each scout was given a block of wood about 6 inches long. This gift was accompanied by vague direction on carving said block into a race car . I spent hours lovingly carving and sanding and painting my car for my first Pinewood Derby. I don’t remember winning the race, but I still retain a nice scar on my left index finger where my carving knife slipped and drew a gout of blood. “Racing cars is not for the faint of heart,” I valiantly told myself as my mother bandaged up my battle wound. A few years ago my mother gave me several years’ worth of my old Pinewood Derby cars; these former speedsters now sit motionless on some bookshelves at home.

When I became a youth and could move to the next level of scouting, I happily became a Boy Scout . Hiking and camping and building fires were my favorite tasks with this bunch. I liked nothing better than to sit around a camp fire of a summer evening with my friends, whittling sticks with which to incinerate marshmallows. Although I surely whittled a forest of sticks, I managed to conclude my scouting career without additional blood draws.
Once I got my driver’s license at 16, and then was given my uncle’s old Oldsmobile shortly afterward, I quickly discovered I could go farther and faster in real wheels than any Pinewood Derby race car. These and other passions caused me to drift away from scouting before I could gain any high rank.

Thankfully, many young people at St. Paul’s go much farther in Scouting than I ever did. They make an impact on their church and community far beyond an aerodynamic 5-ounce block of wood. St. Paul’s has been an active sponsor of Scouting for many decades, and there is much visible evidence of generations of Scouts leaving their mark on our church. Over the years the scouts have painted several rooms in the building, have refurbished our library with new bookshelves, built a new fence around the Hobbs House, and constructed an equipment shed not far from that. That was Eddie McWilliams ’ Eagle Scout project and is named, appropriately, the Eagle Hut . The mural of Noah’s Ark on the wall across from the elevator has been capturing the imagination of children since about 2000. That art is thanks to the creative ability of David Scheirer and his long-ago Eagle Scout project.

This Sunday is Scout Sunday at St. Paul’s. We’ll hear a word from our current Scoutmaster, Brian Johnson , and will be led in the presentation of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance by the scouts. All current participants in scouting programs are encouraged to be in uniform as we celebrate all the good they do for so many in this community and around the world. If these youthful scouts look too young to make a difference, fear not. I have a feeling they will all go far.

See you Sunday, friends. If you’re a scout, wear your uniforms, and your scars, proudly.


A.B. Snell