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
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
May be distributed freely, with attribution, for non-commercial use within the Scouting
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