That awesome time when I went to a BSA meeting. [en]
Last summer, I went to the Hawaiian island O'ahu for holidays. Being a boy scout in Germany who attended several international camps, I met American scouts there and had fun with them. Thus, I wanted to meet some fellows overseas (actually the exact opposite of the world) who share the same intentions.
1. Find any people to talk to.
First place for me to ask was the BSA subreddit. In that time, I spent much time on reddit, so this was the first place I went.
One redditor pointed me to Aloha Council which is like a district organisation for Hawaii. The page brought me to their actively managed facebook page and I just messaged them my intentions and my vacation plans.
As everyone, they were super duper friendly and helped out when they could. You might think, that many people come to visit the island and want to join a troop for a night, but they handled me well. After a few days, I got two email addresses and a location. They meet Friday night.
2. Go there and be prepared.
I’ve been on Hawaii for good four weeks and brought my German scout uniform, a scarf and a few patches. Then, Friday night came, I ironed the uniform with the iron from my family’s neighbors (people in Hawaii don’t need irons that much, I guess) and went over to the scout place which was only a few blocks away.
Arriving there, I had to find my contact person. Sadly, he was not there, but another person came over to me, shook my left hand and said hi to me. I was a bit early (Germans being German, lul), so the meeting did not start and the opening had yet to take place. Thankfully, a boy who looked a bit like the boy scout from Pixar’s Up came over, integrated me in his sub-division..troop..thing (this smaller group with fewer people and lead by a same-age) and held my hand during the opening.
3. Smile and wave.
Now comes the strange, the odd and the fun part. Actually, the part which I was looking forward to the most. The next part will be a 180° turn from what I know from Germany’s scouts, so everything was new and exciting for me.
One of the leaders blew a whistle and everyone aligned at a line that went straight through the place. By the way, the troop’s place is a old water reserve that dried out with a small house next to it, simple yet with space and with a small basketball area. Some of the scouts carried three flags (the flag of the USA and two more) up and down the place, everyone saluted and they sang the troop’s anthem. After that, we said the scouts law (which I a) cannot completely tell you, b) not from memory and c) not in English) and one sub-group told us what to do today - making up a fire from as few lighters as possible.
That was easy and I helped my new fellows when I was able to. On the other hand, I kept talking with everyone about everything. SO MANY IMPRESSIONS AT ONCE! *-* In retrospective, I might have not been that big of a help, sorry!
After the activity, we had some more talk and I managed to trade some patches. In the closing ceremony, the scoutmaster asked me to go infront and gave me the latest Aloha Council patch, a USA flag patch and the digits of the troop. I was officially part of the troop now. Then, everyone went back home and I spoke with a same-age about scouting. My troop is divided by ages, so the 12-year-old kids don’t have to hang around with the 18-year-old “adults”. He drove me home and invited me for the next meeting.
4. The Level-Up-Party
When I came back the next week, actually just two days before my flight back to Germany, the site looked different. Some people placed benches to sit on and a Lectern in the hall. One scout explained, that some people will be ranked up today and their family will come and have a little party. They do it once a month and it’ll be a big honor for everyone. Aaaand this is, what happened.
Around 7pm, a bunch of people came and took place in the benches. The scouts (and I) lined up, the scoutmaster gave a speech and said hi. Out of the 30 people, around 10 got ranked up or were honored for something. So, for everyone out of those, “his” sub-division master said a few words, then gave the mother the patch and she put it on her son’s uniform.
After that was done, some parents brought up food and we had Hawaiian/American dinner together. Side note: Many people that live on Hawaii come from Asia or Polynesia and the food might be different than on the mainland. After a few hours, s said bye to everyone and went back home.
5. The outcome ʘ
As said, everyone was super friendly. I am extremly grateful that the troop gave me the chance to visit them. It is amazing to see, how friendship and similar spirits can extend over the entire world. It shows, that we can make a difference when we stand together.
Also, it shows me, what can be reached when you want to do something and just ask people who might be able to help. Nobody said “Ugh, I don’t want to help you.”. I want to help out to, connect to other people and help where I can. This is, why I am a boy scout.
Thank you, everyone who helped my on this journey.