In the mid 1970s Les Patterson was one of the boys in my new Scout Patrol and later in my team, but in between he was blessed by the leadership of Buddy Peterson, Troop 608’s Scoutmaster. Our chartered partner, the Richfield 8th Ward, had a rich Scouting past, but one that could not have functioned without the Peterson family. Buddy however, had a much more profound effect on Les, but let’s move to his post so that I don’t spoil the rest of the story:
Scout hikes became lessons in how to pack a backpack, and not over pack. An extra pair of socks was only forgotten once. A flipped canoe helped two bullheaded teenagers stop fighting and learn to work together. Merit badges classes were more about the process of learning than just acquiring a skill. The “buddy system” taught responsibility for watching over each other.
Bud helped me discover the beautiful solace found in the mountains. Away from the noise of everyday life, the rustling wind or babbling brook amplifying the miracle of silence. A screech of a bird of prey let me know I was never alone. The stars became a blanket of wonder wrapping me in their vastness.
End of the day campfires offered Bud time to share a Scoutmaster Minute. Generally just a gem of a thought, most often forgotten as soon as it was shared, though the flickering firelight and symphonic crickets served to soften rowdy boys. Bud helped bring us closer to nature, closer to each other, and opened our souls to heaven’s touch.
Bud’s step by tiny step tutelage helped us boys better understand what it really meant when we raised our arm to the square and repeated the Scout Promise, “On My Honor I’ll Do My Best.”
The Boy Scout Slogan “Do A Good Turn Daily” and Motto “Be Prepared” became more than just hollow talking points.
The twelve points of the Scout Law were no longer rushed through as they slowly ingrained into our lives.
He taught us the importance of wearing our uniform the right way, every time.
For a time period I was the Patrol Leader, being all of 12½ years old when I started. Some of the boys were older than me, even a few in a higher school grade. Most were more popular than I, which wasn’t hard to do. And now and then a few were set on doing things their own way no matter who was in charge. It was quite a bit for a young boy with little confidence to handle.
Bud worked with me, and the troop, and together we generally passed for well-behaved kids. Not every patrol meeting went as planned, not every activity well executed. This patrol leader often got frustrated, as did the scoutmaster. Too often we forgot to wear uniforms, though I never once remember Bud forgetting.
Bud wasn’t the perfect Scoutmaster. I’ve yet to meet one. But he never gave up and spent his life striving to make a difference in the lives of boys. As I shared last week, he came back into my life just before I turned 18 to help me finish my Eagle Scout requirements, then as my father-in-law.
Bud was a Scouter through and through.
It’s been an honor for me to call him Dad.
Friday night he finished his journey.
I’ll miss him.
P.S. Les suggests we “take 15 minutes today to reflect on a leader or mentor from your youth” and jot your thoughts in the comment section below: