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After close to 30 years with Ballard’s Troop 100, Scoutmaster Paul is hanging up his hat, and I started thinking of the one thing about Paul that stood out.

There are so many wonderful things I could say about Paul, but there was indeed one thing that stood out above all else, and it seemed to encompass all those other things. It was The Paul Mile.

See, when we were in the troop, the phrase we often heard the phrase, “Oh, it’s a Paul Mile.”

We didn’t know where that came from until our trip to Norwegian – where we had to drive for about 5 hours before hiking in to one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.

Paul had said, simply, that it was a mile from where we parked our cars to where we were camping, so – well, a mile’s a mile, right?

I looked at it on the map, measured it with dividers…

Yup.

It was a mile.

But what we didn’t take into account was that the mile was “as the crow (or seagull, or mightily thrown rock) flies,” not as a scout walks.

 

Not as a scout, distracted by every bug and stick and rock walks.

Not as a scout, who’s wearing a pack for the first time, walks.

Not as a scout, who’s seeing the miracles of the outdoors for the first time, walks.

 

On the way, scouts learned how to build fires.

And how to camp in the rain.

And the mud.

And the snow.

 

Scouts learned about responsibility, and being prepared.

And they learned about being just a little more than prepared and to help those who were still learning.

Lessons were passed on from Paul to scout, and then from older scout to younger scout.

 

On the way, scouts conquered their own fears.

They climbed mountains and crossed valleys.

And some traveled to countries they’d only read about.

They grew more than their faraway parents could possibly imagine.

 

They ate.

Some learned how to cook.

Some learned how to cook well.

And as they grew up and grew older, they ate better than they expected.

 

They laughed.

And told jokes.

And lived stories they would recount years later.

 

They waded in the Pacific

They floated down rivers, and showered in waterfalls,

They swam in lakes cold enough to – well, they were cold.

They made friends.

 

And they grew from Tigers all over…

To cubs in the pack…

To Scouts, in Troop 100.

 

And while some of the steps were longer than expected.

And some were steeper than expected.

And, living in Washington, a lot were wetter than expected,

Looking back, they were all better than expected.

 

And on one cold, clear night, shivering on a Pacific beach at the end of the most memorable of all Paul miles, some saw stars in the heavens they’d never seen, before, or since.

 

See what scouts didn’t know is that a Paul Mile, like life itself, isn’t about the destination.

 

It’s about the journey…

 

Take care, Paul, may your Journey continue.

 

Paul Hendricks, Camp Meriwether, Oregon, 2006

Paul Hendricks, Camp Meriwether, Oregon, 2006

The Roush family, including Michael, Eagle # 128

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Tom Roush

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