How to Lose 75,000 Votes in Ninety Seconds

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Jambo Journal – Day #7, Saturday, July 31, 2010 Closing Ceremony.

Yesterday’s entry: How to Train a Teenage Boy.

I don’t know if this is true or not, 697306_99080393_beware_of_ice_stock_xchng_royalty_freebut when I was a kid listening to Danny Nevereth in the morning on WKBW radio (1510 on the AM) out of Buffalo, he once told the story of the origin of the name of the band “Three Dog Night.” He said in ancient times – I can’t remember if it was in Alaska or just some lore from an American Indian tribe – on cold nights you slept with a dog to keep you warm. On really cold nights you brought in two canine critters. And on really, really, cold nights, you needed three dogs to keep warm.

In that vein, last night was a three-layer night. My wife questioned my wisdom in bringing an extra set of warm clothes on a campout that would probably include triple-digit heat. Last night made me look like a genius. It very likely got down into the upper 50’s, despite just tipping 90° during the mid-day heat. During the night I slipped on not one, but two additional long sleeve shirts. I was warm and actually slept reasonably well.

We woke up to an uncharacteristically cool morning, and the overcast sky kept the temperatures down, at least until the sky began to clear around 10:30am. Before the boys left this morning, we instructed them to be back by 3:30pm. We have to begin our march to the arena a full three hours before the event. That means we’re on the road at 5:00pm for a two-hour hike. They’re giving us cheese and crackers for dinner tonight (at 3:30pm) so we can eat quickly. Once they pack us sardine-like into the arena, we’ll get to see a “pre-show” while all the other troops parade in. We’re lucky, though. We’re only in the middle of the pack. The Southern Contingent starts their two-and-a-half hour walk at 4:15pm.

There was continued talk around the camp about the lack of a Presidential visit. Although some of the staff continues to grasp on to a thin thread of hope for a surprise visit, there’s a rumor spreading the surprise will be George W. Bush. Personally, I don’t think so. That would be too political. Maybe George H.W. Bush. Or maybe a Bush and Bill Clinton. But, most likely, it’ll just be us, a couple of Eagle Scouts who’ve won reality shows (Alex Boylan of The Amazing Race and Burton Roberts from Survivor), the popular band Switchfoot, Mike Rowe (the host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs), the usual scout executives and, maybe the real reason most are going, the biggest fireworks display ever on a military base.

Most of the AT&T wireless network is down within the camp. Our Troop Commissioner has just come to inform us that. He expresses displeasure as the internet is down on his day off. This has been an intermittent problem and the primary reason for the delay of some of these postings.

Cool. Just saw the Star Trek patches from the Hawkeye Area Council in Riverside, Iowa. Riverside bills itself as the official “Future Birthplace of Captain James Tiberius Kirk.” That’s the connection, in case you’re wondering.

Here’s what really happened at the closing ceremony.

We left on schedule in full uniform, including our bright green neckerchiefs. I decided against wearing a tee-shirt beneath my uniform. I figured I’d see if my sweat could dissolve this new-fangled material they’re using to make the shirts. My bigger challenge, however, had me trying to make sure I didn’t bring my pocket knife. It’s sort of important to me. My father gave the personalized Swiss army knife as a gift several years ago. We’ve been repeatedly warned all knives would be confiscated by the Army and you’ll have to go to lost and found to get it. Yeah, right.

As I’m rummaging through my tent, I begin to worry. I can’t find my knife! It’s supposed to be in the pocket of the long pants I’ll be wearing – but it’s not! I double check the right front pockets. Nothing. I double check the left front pockets. Still nothing. I don’t panic, maybe I left it in the short pants I’ve been wearing. I check those pants to no avail. Sweat drips from my brow – but not from anxiety, it’s just too darn hot in this tent!

I could have left it my day pack in one of its three pockets. I empty everything out – twice – and come up empty.

Now I begin to panic. I distinctly remember putting that knife in the left front pocket of my long pants pocket. I double check both sides again and again come up dry. It must be in my day pack. I was planning to carry my day pack filled with water. The clock ticks closer to our departure time. I must find the knife!

But I can’t. So I decide not to chance it and I leave the day pack in my tent and head towards the assembly area. I get there in plenty of time to wait…

and wait…

and wait.

While we’re waiting, we discover one of the boys has left his credentials in his tent. Not good. Our swift of foot Scoutmaster darts off to camp and returns prior to our launch. We continue to wait.

I see the line move up ahead. We’re moments within disembarking. I instinctively check my left rear pocket for my wallet – it’s not there! Now I’m in full scale panic. I must have left that item on my cot. Out in the open. For any stealthy thief to effortlessly lift. I look ahead. It’s almost our turn to move. No time to rush back to the tent.

Oops! Disregard that. For some reason, I put my wallet in my right rear pocket, not the usual party. Whew!

And now for the real surprise…

There was something in my left rear pocket – my knife!

Panic returns with a vengeance. The head end of our troop has started to march (we’re in the rear). What to do? What to do? I explain my dilemma to our scoutmaster. Before he speaks, his wife, who’s working on staff here, graciously volunteers to help. “You’ve got a job to do here so you can’t leave,” she says, takes my knife and heads back to camp. We shove off. (She later catches up to us well before we enter the arena – that’s how slow we’re moving.)

The slow speed does not prevent pools of perspiration to pour from my pores. I look forward to arriving at the arena just to be able to sit down on the ground. We get there and they squeeze us in. Still, I’m relieved to finally sit down and rest, despite having to endure a rather lame pre-game show. And that’s not just my opinion. The boys pay little attention.

After two hours, during a particularly boring portion of the show, my legs need stretching. I had stood up earlier to try to ID where the other members of the troop eventually landed. Someone in the back shouted at me “Down in front” and I quickly dropped back to the ground.

This time, however, I’m better prepared. With a lull in the show, I turn around and spot another leader. “Seventh inning stretch!” I shout to him as I stand up. Soon, others have joined me in standing. Then, the entire section stands – at least the part that has been sitting for a while. The recently arrived folks, no doubt too tired to stand after their long trek, remain seated.

Mind you, the show continues. Even though it’s increasingly inane, there’s a bit of a riot brewing between the sitters and the standers. “Sit down!” come shouts from the back. “Seventh Inning Stretch!” comes the counter from below me.

Wow! I actually started a trend. There’s probably a good psychological study to be had here.

The real show was amazing. The kids really liked Mike Rowe and Switchfoot (and so did I, too). And the fireworks – totally, TOTALLY, impressive!

But the real news came minutes before the official start time of 8:00pm. The much rumored Obama video was finally introduced. The boys booed. The skies rained. The Scoutmasters told the boys they’re free to have and express their own opinions, but they must respect the office of the presidency. The Scoutmasters apparently let God do whatever thing He wanted to do. The boos settled down and we silently listened to the 90 second speech.

And it was a very bad speech.

As soon as Obama signed off, the boos began and reached a crescendo. In that short ninety seconds, Barack Obama just lost 75,000 votes. The boys are very astute. Afterwords in camp, I hear the kind of high-minded debates like we had in college. In fact, would you believe two boys were arguing the merits of socialism vs. capitalism? (OK, so maybe this only reveals their youthful naïveté, since we all know that argument was resolved in the 1980s.)

The rain pretty much stopped once the video ended and didn’t start again until well after our return to camp. Again, the hike back produced large quantities of sweat, and spent a significant amount of time sitting shirtless in the rain once everyone had gone to bed.

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow’s Exciting Journal Entry: And on the Third Day, He rested.


  1. Thnaks for writing these blogs. When my son Jacob called for the second time this week, I was able to ask him a lot of pertinent questions because I have been reading your entries.

  2. Chris Carosa says

    Gail, I am honored by your kind words. It’s been a pleasure doing this and serving our council and the boys this week.

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