Preparing For History

Chuck May Scoutmaster's Minute

Keppy Plitt Eagle Ceremony

8 January 1995

None of us stands alone. We each travel through life with a certain number of accessories. We all have families, friends, skills, personalities, and histories. When a boy joins a Scout Troop, he brings those accessories with him, and they almost always enrich the troop. With Keppy, that certainly was true, but we had no idea how much value we were getting. For not only did we get a future Eagle Scout, but we got a quartermaster and chief scrounge, a place to camp in West Virginia, and a mascot for the Wolverine Patrol. And Keppy provided us with a lot of new history.

Many of my fondest recollections of Keppy are related to our trip to Philmont in 1990. When Mrs. May and I were invited to attend the Philmont Training Center, we were allowed to bring our son and an additional boy, who would take the Mountain Man trek while we took classes down at the base camp. Since we planned to drive to New Mexico, we asked ourselves, was there a boy who would not present any behavior problems, who was a competent Scout, and, most of all, would be a pleasant and uncomplaining traveling companion for a three-week car trip? With no hesitation, we invited Keppy. Here are a few snapshots from that trip:

It was a fascinating trip, though, and we couldn't have chosen a better traveling companion. Thank you, Keppy.

A couple of other pieces of Keppy's history:

I do need to point out, though, that I have never known a boy who gives of himself as instinctively as Keppy does. Whether it is setting up a Halloween Haunted Forest for the neighborhood kids, giving hay rides at the annual picnic, or teaching a skill to a new boy, Keppy can always be counted upon to do the right thing, without fanfare. I was particularly gratified to see the way that Keppy befriended Todd Locke, and was able to work so patiently with him.

That is a glimpse into Keppy's history, as I have seen it so far.

Have you ever wondered what history will be written in your lifetime? Consider the history that has happened in the lifetimes of those of us here. The generation of Colonel Allen and Keppy's Grandfather was born in the Roaring Twenties, and grew up in the Great Depression. They fought World War Two and the Korean War, and helped put the world back together again afterwards. The generation of Mr. Swendiman and Keppy's father was born in the "baby boom" years after World War Two, and grew up in the beginnings of the Cold War. We fought in Vietnam, and fought about Vietnam, but won the Cold War, eventually. The generation of Dave May and Keppy, and of you boys, was born toward the end of the Cold War, and in the middle of the revolutions in computers, telecommunications, and medical technology.

When Colonel Allen was a Scout, could he have known that the entire world would be at war before he turned twenty five? When Mr. Swendiman was a Scout, could he have guessed that an Eagle Scout, Neil Armstrong, would walk on the moon before he turned twenty five? What history might happen in the five years before Dave May turns twenty five?

If, when you are Scout age, you cannot guess what history might hold for you, how can you prepare for it? How did Colonel Allen, or Neil Armstrong, or Gerald Ford, or Stephen Spielberg prepare for the history which they will live - the same way that Keppy has. The only way to prepare for a history which you cannot predict, is to make yourself the best possible person. When Lord Baden-Powell was asked , "Be Prepared - for what?", he answered, "Be Prepared for whatever may come". There is no better way to be prepared for uncertainty that to develop the confidence that your good character will sustain you. That is what Keppy, like all the Eagle Scouts before him, has learned.

You see, Scouting is not about knots, camping, hiking, and campfires. It is about Trust, Loyalty, Helpfulness, Friendship, Courtesy, Kindness, Obedience, Good Cheer, Thrift, Courage, Cleanliness, and Reverence. Those are the tools with which each of you will write history.

Your world will not be perfect, but you can make it a little more perfect. You can do that by doing your best to live the Scout Law, and to teach it to others.

And when history seems not be working out the way you had hoped, remember your Scouting days. Remember the glow of a campfire burning down to coals, and say the Scout Oath and Law in your mind. Let the campfire be a trigger, as Samuel Bogan wrote:

"For when the fire burns low

A man reveals his soul

And sometimes finds

Within the chemistry of thought

A perfect hour in an imperfect world."



Chuck May, 1996

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