It is often said that once you learn to ride a bike, you remember it always. Of course, that is true. I can’t imagine anyone “forgetting” how to ride a bike. That got me to thinking about what other things I learned as a boy that have stayed with me for these many years. That, in turn, got me to thinking about the Boy Scouts.
Yes, I was a Boy Scout, and I have never regretted a single minute of it. I learned a boatload of things that I remember to this day, some of which still come in very handy, and other things that are still there in case I ever need them.
Here is a smattering of them:
First Aid: The Boy Scouts taught me how t deal with: burns, snake bites, sprains, broken bones (making a splint, turning a neckerchief into an ankle brace), fashioning a stretcher from tree limbs and a blanket. The Scouts taught to recognize and treat shock, arterial bleeding, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and poison ivy. Many years later when I would be again taught first aid, courtesy of Uncle Sam, the only “new” thing I learned was how to treat a sucking chest wound. The Boy Scouts never taught us that one.
Knots: We learned to tie knots, and we learned to tie them fast. Tying knots correctly and quickly was one of the main events in competitions that were regularly held between troops. As a result, to this day, I can tie a bowline faster than anyone I know. I can also tie a: clove hitch, timber hitch, angler’s knot, slip knot, square knot (not a granny), a sheetbend, a half hitch, two half hitches, and a sheepshank. This is a skill that I don’t need very often, but when the occasion arises, I am ready.
Life Saving and Survival: I still remember how to do CPR, how to save a drowning person, and how to deal with someone who has fallen through thin ice. I was taught how to build a fire and how to keep matches dry and, failing that, how to start a fire with flint and steel or a stick and bow.
Intangible Things: I learned a clutch of intangible things that would save me a good deal of angst many years later in the Army. For example, I learned the fundamentals of drill (an Army story worth telling another day). I learned flag etiquette, and how to stand at attention, to stand at “parade rest” and to stand “at ease.” I learned how to form up and “dress right,” I learned how to execute a right face, left face and about face. I learned what it was like to stand inspection and to shut up when told to do so.
I wonder if the Boy Scouts still learn that stuff. I hope so.