I wrote an article over a year and a half ago entitled “Swastikas in Scouting.” I posted it on the Las Vegas International Scouting Museum’s website (www.worldscoutingmuseum.org) as I am their webmaster and they provided much helpful information. That article has continually been hit by readers from all over the world. On a recent inspection, people from over 30 countries have visited the site. The address of the site is www.worldscoutingmuseum.org/swastikas.shtml.
(When the article was first listed, hits from Germany and the Netherlands were a high percentage relative to the above list.)
I never expected such worldwide interest. My interest came from collecting tokens made by the Excelsior Shoe Company. The tokens were an advertisement for Boy Scout Shoes. The tokens were possible because BSA did not receive its charter from congress until 1916 and did not have a patent on many things “scouting” as they now do. There are many varieties of these tokens and the starting point for viewing is www.sageventure.com/coins/scout.html. On the reverse of the tokens was a swastika. At that time, and up until the mid-1930’s, the swastika was a good luck symbol and used by many countries, including the Scouting program. It was not until Hitler and his Nazis took over Germany and raised their Black Swastika flag in 1935, that the emblem could no longer be used for anything else.
Anyway, I am happy to say that I have provided an article that so many people worldwide have visited. I hope that the readers interested in the article also have the best of intentions – that they learn the history of the swastika and how it applies to the positive aspects of scouting.
I had a great time at the 31st Asia Pacific Regional Scout Jamboree in Mongolia this past July. Not only was the jamboree a fun experience but the group of Americans that I met up with were a good group of scouts and scouters. I expected that I might meet up with my friend who was the contingent leader, Pete Armstrong, in Beijing on our way to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, but I was totally surprised when I got on a bus for transporting passengers from one terminal to another and on the bus were the American scouts and scouters. I travel in uniform so it was easy for them spot me. Now, being with the group made it easy for me to get from one end of the long terminal to the departure end because with a group, there were many sign readers!
The American scouters were Pete Armstrong, the contingent leader and a good friend, and Alan Lepard, a professional scouter, volunteer scouter and Eagle Scout. In general, I’m not one to write about professional scouters but Alan is an exception. He’s more than just a great guy; he is both an Eagle Scout and a tireless, generous volunteer scouter. There were two women scouters, also nurses who were so helpful to me. I had been in an accident before the jamboree. Ruthie Rosenstein and Joan Biesksha graciously tended to my wounds. Another scouter that the scouts admired as a leader was Lisa Gittings. There were many more excellent scouters, but these stood out in my mind as exemplary individuals.
The scouts that I remember well were Nick, Alan’s son, who I know had a great experience; Carl, Lisa’s son, who I admire for managing well with his broken arm; and Nadine, a Venturer who has attended a number of international jamborees which I really respect.
Pete had been to a Mongolian Jamboree before so he had a number of friends in Mongolia some of which had come to the U.S. to staff at Philmont and his council summer camp. This worked out well because we had scouters to pick us up at the airport in Ulaanbaatar and take us to the hotel in the middle of the night – very kind and much appreciated.
The next couple of days we caught up on our sleep and explored the city. What fascinated me was that if you need technical support for your cell phone, printer or any such device, there were shops that would do the work as you waited. In the U.S. we just buy new devices; seldom do we repair a device. I watched them work so quickly and efficiently. Very impressive!
Then off to the jamboree. The scouts and the leaders checked in and went off to set up camp and since I was on the International Service Team (IST), I was put up in a cabin with a bed. Wow, did I luck out with a cabin and bed. I shared the room with two scouters from Australia and a scouter from New Zealand.
Everyone seemed to have a great time at the jamboree. Overall, the weather was good. I designed the patches and pin for our contingent so I had fun trading with other contingents. During the trading, I met so many nice scouters including Reiko Suzuki, the contingent leader from Japan. She was such a friendly person and it was not until after the jamboree that I learned she had received the Bronze Wolf early this year. It is the highest honor that can be given a volunteer Scout leader in the world.
Scouting in many countries is primarily run by volunteers. Countries like Mongolia do have a few paid scouters but not highly paid like BSA scouters. For this reason, I chose to give to the Mongolian Scout Association and in return, they awarded me with the Silver Falcon. The Falcon is their national bird. The presentation was done at a nice dinner in a fancy Mongolian ger (Mongolian word for yurt) and also presented to my two friends Pete Armstrong and Chinchu Chen from Taiwan for their donations.
There were a number of nice evening shows at the jamboree. Everyone would gather and because there where viewing screens, everyone could see all the presentations. It was very well done.
At the close of the jamboree, Pete’s Mongolian friends took us back to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar. We would spend the next three days touring parts of Mongolia before taking the train to Beijing. On one of those days, we took an interesting bus ride to Genghis Khan, the world’s largest equestrian statue. It was too bad that that was probably the worst weather day we had. That evening we slept in gers.
Our train ride to Beijing was long but interesting. Along the way we saw wild herds of two-hump camels and yaks. At the border, they had to change the rail wheels because they were a different gauge between Mongolia and China. That took a good while but during that time, the Chinese could check luggage and all those other boarder things. We traveled in cars with beds so we were able to get some sleep during the long train trip.
When we arrived in China, the tour company that we had given a deposit to did not have the train schedule and apparently had not made our hotel reservations. It was really looking bad but when we did made contact with them, they tried to put us in a dump of a hotel. I must say that Pete stood his ground and in the end, all turned out well as we stayed in a Holiday Inn.
In China, we did the normal touring; Forbidden City, Great Wall and several other interesting Chinese structures. I had a great time with a group of nice people. A trip I will long remember.
I met Chris in 2012 at the American Tall Ship Institute in Oxnard. We had both been invited to learn about their mission and that was definitely right up our areas of interest.
“Our mission is to encourage positive youth and community development through environmentally aware, hands on, ocean-based programs aboard tall ships and in our boat building shop.”
Chris was very involved in Sea Scouting and Venturing with his units in Arroyo Grande and I was an Assistant Council Commissioner (ACC) for Venturing. I had taken Seabadge back in 2004 because Sea Scouts were part of the same senior scouting program at that time.
It was a very informative day and a pleasure meeting Chris as I could see the enthusiasm that he had for all of scouting. It was the day that would establish a long-term friendship.
Sometime in the next year, Chris got involved with the Corps of Discovery (COD) (www.sagethinking.org/corps-of-discovery/) with more enthusiasm that anyone that I had known. I believe it was because the COD was a service society and that is what Chris was all about. He took it upon himself to write the first and second handbook for the COD. He then created the Corps of Discovery Founder’s Award in 2015 (www.thecorpsofdiscovery.org/founders.html). He presented the award to Joe Garrett, me, and Matt Petrick for his service as a youth in 1999. Joe and I have renamed the award to the Chris Hagerty Founders Award and have awarded Chris as the fourth recipient.
Chris was not just involved in the COD. He was an advocate of the Boy Scouts of America and, in the last few years, the Baden Powell Service Association. Of course, there were the scouting programs which were dear to his heart, but any way he could provide service to others, he would; whether it was with youth or some event that involved Dutch oven cooking.
I will always remember Chris, as he was a true scouter and I love that type of person. They give and don’t expect anything in return. I will miss him and his phone calls. It’s hard to let such a young man go.
I love water parks. The one close to me is Raging Waters, San Dimas, California. The best time I had was many years ago when I got to go with my grandson and we held hands most of the day. A memory a grandparent will never forget.
Recently, I learned about a very unique water park in San Antonio, Texas. The story on CBS was about a father who created a special water park for his daughter who was physically challenged. The water park featured activities that were accessible by kids in wheelchairs. What an outstanding feature! It brought tears to my eyes seeing all the kids, challenged and otherwise, having such a great time. You can read the details on the CBS web site.
I was fortunate that, during the Viet Nam era, when I got out of Navy boot camp I was sent straight to the Pentagon. I already had a B.S. degree in Mathematics with training in computer science, and there were few with that skill-set back in 1969.
While in the Pentagon, I worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. My most significant programming responsibility was to code a communist land movement model written by a Captain in the Air Force. The Captain and I worked together well as I had the math skills to read all his work, and could run all the needed scenarios.
I only had to serve two years active duty, coming out of boot camp as E-2 and leaving as E-4. The Navy requires two additional years of reserve duty, so when I started graduate school I joined a reserve unit. Quickly, I was promoted to E-5 and found the extra money useful while going to school. I can’t remember the details any longer, but I was offered a direct commission in the field of security because of my math background, and became an Ensign. A couple years later, I was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. However, shortly after that, because of budget cuts, the government decided to pay officers only half-pay for attending reserve meetings. In 1977, I finished my Ph.D. and got a good paying job, so I dropped out of the reserves.
Everyone seems to have so much respect for veterans these days, as it should be. This is so much different than the Viet Nam era. Of course, today is Memorial Day, a day to memorialize those who lost their lives serving our country. I was fortunate when I was in the service getting a job where I could contribute to saving the lives of Americans. How lucky I was compared to so many others who were sent off to Viet Nam and never returned.
Today we honor those fallen who were not so fortunate but I also want to close by thanking two great scout friends who spent their career in the military, Jim Shannon and Pete Armstrong.
Visiting Egypt and Jordan proved to be the great fulfillment of a high-priority bucket list trip for my wife and me. With a group of 30 fellow travelers in Egypt and 6 in Jordan, we toured by bus and cruise ship to immerse ourselves into these most ancient of countries.
Many of our friends and family were concerned about safety in that region of the world, but we felt safe during the entire trip. We had armed guards with us at all times in Egypt (and, at times, a police escort for our bus, complete with sirens!), and both countries took security very seriously.
Our guide for the entire Egypt portion of the trip was an Egyptian with a degree in Egyptian history, which added so much to what we learned as we visited each of the locations and excursions.
The day after arriving, we visited the “step” pyramid Sakkara which is believed to be the first built in ancient Egypt. In the afternoon, we visited the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure and the nearby Great Sphinx. My wife was in Egypt heaven!
The following day we visited the highlights of the Cairo Egyptian Museum which included the contents of King Tut’s tomb and the golden mask. We learned that the beauty of King Tut’s tomb would have been minor compared to what would have been found in other tombs if they had not been robbed. (But he still had a heck of a lot of gold!) King Tut was only a king for about 9 years; whereas King Ramses II was king for 70+ years and his tomb was huge. It must have been magnificent with treasure before it was robbed.
In the evening, we visited an open-air street market in one of the oldest parts of Cairo. Everywhere there were vendors holding souvenirs and saying “one dollar, one dollar”, trying to lure us into their shops; families and young people enjoying the warm evening air in the plaza; the exotic smells of Egyptian foods, coffees and tobacco of the hookahs…a glimpse into the current culture of the Egyptian people. Afterwards, we had a traditional Egyptian dinner at an open-air restaurant.
From Cairo we flew to the city of Luxor. The city of Luxor contains 70% of the world’s ancient remains, many still intact. In the city, we visited the Temples of Karnak and Luxor. The Temple City of Karnak is considered to be among the world’s largest ancient temple complexes. With almost 1,300 years of construction and covering a site of almost a mile by two miles, it includes several of the finest examples of ancient Egyptian design and architecture. The Temples of Luxor and Karnak are connected by a long boulevard lined by sphinxes which is under renovation. Awe-inspiring!
The next morning, we visited the famous Valley of the Kings, used for ritual burial for much of the Pharaonic times. The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and has been a focus of archaeological exploration since the end of the 18th century. It is one of most famous archaeological sites in the world. In modern times, the valley became famous for the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen. My wife went in and saw Tut’s mummy and his very small (comparatively speaking) tomb. She was underwhelmed after seeing the other tombs; just a few Baboons carved on the walls…Ramses VI tomb – awesome – she said it was huge with painted hieroglyphics and gods everywhere.
From Luxor, we boarded our ship and traveled up the Nile for 4 days, taking various shore excursions to temple ruins each day as we traveled to Aswan (saw a Belly-dancing and Egyptian music show one evening!). At Aswan is the Aswan High Dam built across the Nile between 1960 and 1970. The High Dam has resulted in protection from floods and droughts, an increase in agricultural production and employment, electricity production, and improved navigation that also benefits tourism. Conversely, the dam flooded a large area, causing the relocation of over 100,000 people. Many archaeological sites were submerged while others were relocated.
Twenty-two monuments and architectural complexes, including the Abu Simbel temples, which were threatened by flooding from Lake Nasser, were preserved by moving them to the shores of Lake Nasser under the UNESCO Nubia Campaign.
While in Aswan, we took a ride in a “felucca”, a traditional wooden sailing vessel of the Nile and learned about the Nubian culture of the region.
We debarked from our ship, and flew from Aswan to Abu Simbel, the site of the Great Temple of Ramses II, Egypt’s longest-ruling pharaoh. The Great Temple, carved out of a mountainside, with its huge statues of Ramses II at the entrance, was magnificent and the evening sound and light show was very well done. It was worth the extra expense!
From Abu Simbel, we boarded another ship and voyaged along Lake Nasser back to Aswan taking in various archaeological sites, most of which had been moved in order not to be covered by the Aswan dam water. This part of the cruise was more relaxing with time to just enjoy cruising for 3 days. From Aswan, we flew back to Cairo. This was the end of the trip for most on our river cruise, but six of us went on to Amman, Jordan. In the land of the Bedouins, the land of Moses and his followers, we spent four additional days exploring Jordan’s antiquities.
In addition to the tents in which many Bedouins still live in the countryside with their herds of animals, the highlight of Jordan was the ancient city of Petra. Petra was built by the Nabataeans in the heart of the Shara Mountains. It prospered in the first centuries BC and AD and was a vital part of a major trading route connecting ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Nabataeans were also famous at the time for their water management techniques in the desert. The city survived because it was well hidden, with its main access through the multi-colored sides of a slot canyon (a 2 ½ mile walk through the canyon to get to the city). Its most famous artifact is a temple called “The Treasury”, with beautiful columns carved into the pink rocks. Today, intricate facades sculpted into the sandstone cliffs of the area can still be seen, along with other remarkably preserved structures, tombs, and monuments of the fascinating civilization.
Ahh…and then to a gorgeous resort on the Dead Sea to relax, unwind and, for some, float in the sea. Salt cakes the rocks and shore, as it contains 34% salt (Atlantic ocean is 3.5%), beautiful and clear. We also visited the Dead Sea Museum. We definitely could have stayed another day!
Another interesting ruin we visited was the Jerash ruins which are said to be the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Jerash featured extensive Greek and Roman ruins. The ancient Roman city enjoyed great wealth and importance largely due to the area’s fertile lands and year-round fresh water supply. An earthquake hit the region in 749 AD destroying huge areas of the city and leaving the ruins buried in soil for hundreds of years. It was in 1806 that a German explorer discovered them.
This was a trip well worth taking and my wife and I always felt safe. Our guides knew everything and seemingly knew everyone wherever we traveled. We gorged on buffets every day, walked many miles, and saw incredible sights. Our fellow travelers were wonderful, gung-ho (even those with disabilities), and we made several new acquaintances. I encourage anyone interested in antiquities of the Middle East, to take a trip as we did and use Viking River Cruises. It is a company we certainly recommend.
My entire career was both answering environmental questions using statistics or data mining large databases to understand and ultimately improve situations. In other words, I did a great deal of math! I enjoyed the work very much because I was very proficient in my field.
However, since I have been retired, I have left the field of mathematics and focused on a hobby of designing patches. The rewards of helping others have been outstanding. One teacher, Tanya Anderson, has brought me two projects that have excited me more than others. This is the email I received from Tanya four years ago:
“I don’t know if you remember me, you designed soapbox derby patches for my son’s Cub Scout Pack last year. I have a new project I am working on and I am wondering if you will be able to help.
I am a teacher at a Catholic school in Lisle. I along with 3 of my colleagues have been chosen as one of 7 educator teams from across the country to participate in a special program at NASA this summer where we get to design an experiment and then fly our experiment on NASA’s zero gravity airplane. Part of our program is getting all of the students in our school involved in different aspects of our experiment and flight preparation. As one of our activities we wanted to do a mission patch design contest with our students, since all NASA missions have their own patches. We were hoping then to have the winning student design actually made into patches that we could wear on our flight and also pass out to some of our students.
I immediately thought of you since you did such an awesome job on our scout patches. I was hoping I could scan in the winning student design and you would be able to create something close to it.” An article in the Chicago Tribune describes more about the project, http://tinyurl.com/MicroGXcycle2
My response to Tanya’s request was, “Wow, I would love to help. Certainly, you and your colleagues deserve a big congratulations!” From the four winning designs submitted by the students, I created the final patch below.
Again, Tanya had the students submit designs for the patch and I took the winning components and created a patch for this year’s project.
Being able to help two such worthwhile projects brings me a great deal of satisfaction. What these teachers are doing for our young ones will only make them better adults and possibly better scientists.
Helping others through my hobbies is one of the things in life I really enjoy. Of course, taking care of my young grandson beats that.
Several years ago, I came across several old scout certificates. One in particular, a British Boy Scouts certificate, had a great deal of character but it was very tattered. I spent a number of hours cleaning it up which included straightening up the right border and changing out the British flag for a U.S. flag. Now it was ready for many uses. (My friend, John Davis, informed me that the patrol flags are peewit and wolf on the left, and stag and cormorant on the right.)
The first use I thought of was for Wood Badge as the certificate had a picture of Baden Powell at the bottom. My focus was for staffers so I made one with three beads and one with four beads and later added one with two beads for anyone attending Wood Badge.
I made some other uses but the next popular use was for a Scoutmaster certificate with a 1920’s Scoutmaster Badge. In the early years, colors defined badges and silver and green was the color of the Scoutmaster. In addition, a Scoutmaster was supposed to represent the knowledge and skills of a First Class Scout so that is the emblem he wore. You can see the early badges on this web page – https://www.sageventure.com/history/SM/SMbadges.html.
I’ve had many thank yous for making these certificates available on https://www.sageventure.com/store/certificates.html#early but the pleasure has been mine. The cost of the certificates goes to paying for the card stock paper, ink and my website; not for making me a business. Making something nice for others brings me the pleasure I enjoy.
Tears flowed from my eyes as I read about a man that is now taking care of a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect who is blind and deaf; has daily seizures; and her arms and legs are paralyzed. This devout Libyan-born Muslim has been taken care of her for all of her life. But the story does not begin there. He has been doing this type of care for more than two decades. He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms.
The best news I found was that a federal judge ordered a halt to deportations of travelers with valid visas to enter the U.S. saying that sending them back to the affected countries could cause them “irreparable harm.” Other good news was that droves of immigration attorneys stepped up to offer free services to those detained. Now this is the America that I am proud of.
I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post entitled “The Inevitability Of Impeachment.” This is just after one week so I take it with a Grain of Salt, but since it includes concerns from both parties, it is worth reading.