Training to Become a Boy Scout Executive

Our honeymoon over–two weeks of bliss–the plan for our life began unfolding. Madeline drove the Chevvy, with cousin Rev. Elizabeth Fitz Randolph riding along, home to Fairmont, West Virginia. I joined Percy Dunn on the trip to 1-iendham, New Jersey where we enrolled in the month-long 55th National Training School for Boy Scout Executives. (Percy had been a Scout Executive many years but had never taken the national training course.)

In anticipation of my qualifying as an executive, Percy worked out a contract with me to work for the Steuben Area Council half time for the year beginning October 1, 1937. I would be continuing my study in the School of Theology at Alfred. The outline of the contract follows:

a. Duties to be substantially half time in field travel. Salary to be $50.00 per month October through May.

b. Duties to be full time at Camp Gorton June through August. Salary to be $100.00 per month for the three months.

c. Two weeks vacation with pay granted in September 1938.

Travel Allowance: a. For the twelve months listed above Randolph will maintain and operate his own insured auto, compensation to be based on itemized statements at 5 cents per mile.

Loan Agreement: The Council will advance $200.00 of 1938 travel budget, same to be covered by promissory note payable without interest on or before September 30, 1938.

Signed by me and by K.E. Plants, Council Comptroller

Schiff National Boy Scout Reservation, near Mendham, New Jersey, was a sumptuous estate eclipsing anything I had ever experienced in opulence. Forty-eight men seeking to become Scout Executives attended this 55th school. I was placed in the “B” group of twenty-three men and was a member of the “Puffer Billy” Patrol. Percy was in the “A” group and was patrol leader of the “Johnny Appleseed” Patrol.

In my introduction at the opening meeting of the course I reported that on the next Wednesday I would be celebrating the third-week-anniversary of my marriage. Every Wednesday for the next four weeks special attention was given to my “anniversary” at the dinner meal.

The course schedule and program were demanding. We listened to presentations by national Scouting executives day after day for long hours. Some Staff members responsible for our training stand out: Gunnar Berg, Green Bar Bill and Judson Freeman for example. We were all impressed when Chief Scout Executive James E. West visited.

Wonderful letters from Madeline buoyed my morale through the month. confess to experiencing shock when she announced that I would become a father in June. It was naive of me not to be prepared for such news.

The STUDENT’S APPRAISALS ON PERSONAL QUALITIES was a unique and revealing experience from the National Training School for Scout Executives. Three times during the month each member of our group of twenty-three evaluated every other member on thirty personal qualities. The results were tabulated and averaged, giving each individual a numbered ranking in the group. Here is how I came out in that searching process:

Scouting Spirit 7
Likely to succeed as an Executive 8
Leadership of men 7
Vigor 1
Industry 13
Initiative 5
Neatness 17
Poise 19
Alertness 4
Adaptability 9
Enthusiasm 1
Sociability (Good Mixer) 3
Originality 1
Resourcefulness 4
Clear Thinking 11
Public speaking 3
Tact 8
Tolerance 3
Punctuality 18
Loyalty 4
Sympathy 3
Perseverance 10
Refinement 17
Personal appearance 19
Balanced ego 12
Judgment 15
Sense of humor 3
Sincerity 4
Team play 11
Spirit of unselfish service 5

It was humbling to note the low ranking my fellow students gave me on some of the personal qualities rankings. By the same Token, it was an “ego trip” to score high in a number of them. Some of the men who were counting on high ranking to secure positions after the training became emotionally disturbed over the results for them. I was quite relaxed since I already had a job.

There was a “bonus” experience for me at Schiff that has served me through the years. Judson Freeman, director of the Schiff Scout Reservation, gave an impressive demonstration of a memory technique early in the course. Several of us asked “Jud” if he might teach the technique to us. He generously agreed to our request and gave us excellent instruction in his memory methods. Over the years I have entertained many groups of young people and adults with a semiprofessional demonstration of memory. leaking “mental pictures” is the idea on which the system of memory is built.

A course in “Cubbing” took an extra week after completion of the Scout Executive’s Training. Percy Dunn thought I should stay for it, so I did. The really happy part of that experience was that Madeline drove to Schiff and was with me during the week of training in Cubbing. I was thrilled to introduce Madeline to the staff and members of the special course.

One evening the two of us were having a leisurely drive through the area of beautiful estates near Schiff when a raccoon ran across the road in front of us and climbed a tree. We got out of the car and I had Madeline stand under the tree holding my top coat ready to throw it over the coon when he came down. I climbed the tree and the coon jumped to the ground but the strategy didn’t work. Is it possible I tried such a ridiculous stunt and Madeline cooperated?

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