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I spend a lot of time thinking back to those days, the impetuousness of youth as I tried to create my own little world with my own little followers. To say that we went on to form our own troupe that lasted through the ages would be a touch overstated. In truth, the second year we had the panda scouts up and running was the last year. But it’s not to say that I didn’t learn any really valuable things from that time, and carry them with me into adulthood. I work now with a group of Louisville Roofing experts, and the skills that I acquired, rather taught myself, have come in handy quite a bit over the course of my time.

Learning how to deal with others, how to follow the chain of command, how to treat others with respect and kindness, these are all things that have come in handy in my adult life, and allow me to be the person that I am today. I know that if I ever find myself stranded in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a few sticks and cotton balls on me, that I will be ok. But mostly it taught me that I don’t have to rely on others to get things done for me. When there’s something that I’m looking to accomplish, I have the capability to get it done myself with a little effort and investigation..

I guess what I’m saying is that, no matter how much I wanted to be a part of a specific group, I found a way, within myself to surpass that, and to create my own group that equaled it in all the ways that I looked at it favorably. No matter what I wanted to accomplish in my life, I managed to get to that point on my own, relying on myself, and accepting my victories as well as my defeats. I can’t speak for the other members of my long lost group, but I’m sure that most of them would have the same opinion of both the panda scouts and of themselves. I would like to think that I had a hand in them bettering themselves, but I suppose it’s just as good to be a reminder that they have the power within themselves, they just need to tap into it.

And I share the same notion with you. It’s easy to go through life regretting all the things you didn’t do, but you have the capability within yourself to at least try, and even if you don’t make it, then perhaps you can find something just as valuable along the way. Don’t take no for an answer, and even if you wind up failing a hundred times like I did with those sticks in my backyard, you can feel the elation that comes with achievement no matter how close you get to your full on goal, the main idea is to never give up and you can never let yourself down.

As we began to collect on our skills in our makeshift Eagle Scout group, I came to the realization that we would need some type of identifier when it came to the accomplishments each of us made. Much like the way the Boy and Eagle Scouts had their own badge system, I needed to come up with one of my own for the group that paid homage, but didn’t necessarily just steal the idea outright. It turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought, as I spent a weekend trying to figure it out. I wanted something that could be carried around with them, so that it immediately made it known how far they had come along.

With the help of my mother, we decided on a bead system. Using a length of rope, we would attach beads to the line, in different colors and numbers that signified how advanced they were in particular skills. From fire making, to cooking, trap laying and more, we had devised an entire system of ranking and visibility so that everyone knew what we were looking at. By this point in time our group had expanded to include even more kids, and I was operating a group of nearly ten in total. We passed along our skills, and made our code of ethics when it came to representing the panda scouts with respect.

Even with a set out system of rules, a hierarchy, and many skills to learn, each of the kids took to it pretty well. No one really argued the system, and I think that each of them simply enjoyed being a part of something. When our first anniversary of the group came up, we decided that it was time to have an evening where we put our skills to the test, and survived an evening on our own. With a full day of being in the woods, setting snares, identifying plants and animals and more, we nestled into our campground for the evening, that campground being my parents back yard, but it was the first time that we had to be our own people, to have an evening without supervision of any sort, well beyond parents peeking behind curtains to make sure we weren’t staying up too late.

We created a bead just for that night, and as we moved into our second year, and gained even more people into our group, there was only the select few of us who still have that bead to this day. Looking back on what we managed to create out of our own determination and resilience is pretty impressive, and as much as it may have started by emulating an idea of people in my mind, it grew to be something even better for us, something that we could call our own, and relish in all that we had learned and managed to accomplish with our own selves to blame, and thank, from the leader, to the newest members in the group.

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a part of the Eagle Scouts. Since watching a movie that most people on here won’t remember, I got this image in my head of what it would be like to be a part of that unique community, learning new skills, helping others, and creating a foundation for my life that would go on forever. Unfortunately, I lived in an area where there wasn’t a troupe, and so had to resort to other methods. I gathered up a group of my childhood friends, and we formed the Panda Scouts, our own take on the group that would help us not only attain that goal of information and skills that we yearned for, but also have a spin on it that made it our own.

I assumed the role of Scout leader, being the oldest of the group, and it essentially being my idea and all. There was four other members that we separated into different roles to create some form of hierarchy, and all that remained was to actually formulate what it was that we were doing with this group. I knew a little bit about what the Eagle Scouts did through watching movies and my own research, but needed to find out how to do it first myself, so that I could get others to do it as well. It was a great learning experience for me, and as well for the troupe I led, as we got the opportunity to formulate our skills on our own.

I remember spending hours in my backyard trying to figure out how to create fire with very little tools, and the patience that my parents displayed, allowing their child to learn how to incinerate a backyard with a couple sticks and some cotton balls. After getting out all the books I could find in the local library, and rubbing my hands raw on this kindling, I eventually got it to work. I know writing it that way makes it seem like it was a short lived endeavor, but let me tell you, I spent hours in that back yard, from morning till night trying to get it to work. Running my hands up and down that twig until I was blistered and calloused, and only after a solid week of trying did it work, needless to say, if it was a survival thing, I would have been dead.

The next step was a little trickier, trying to teach the rest of my troupe how to do it. I was lucky to have a group of friends who were as determined as I was, because after the first few hours, I expected all of them to quit, but nope, by the end of the week, we all had the ability to start fire, albeit it would take about an hour, which was certainly an improvement from our first foray into fire building for our own survival purposes.