Robert J. Martin
was a Boy Scout during the days of Davy Crockett, Wyatt Earp, Cowboys and
Indians, and meals around an open campfire. Davy, Wyatt, the pale faces
and the redskins were all on television and in the theaters, but the meals were
weekend feasts we Scouts prepared ourselves on campouts.
Oh sure, there were ashes in
the stews, raw pancakes, rare chicken drumstick, and the occasional new kid who
would soap the inside of a cooking pot instead of the outside to prevent the
fire scorching the pan. That stuff was to be expected. It wasn't
especially fun then, but I wouldn't trade the memories now.
Half the fun was building
the campfire. There was wood to find and chop, a safe area to prepare for
the fire, kindling to mound up inside the circle of rocks surrounding the little
fire pit, and the arguing over the best kind of fire pattern to lay. You
need different kind's of fires lad for different kinds of purposes. Some
fires were better for providing heat. Others provided coals to cook over
or high flames to roast weenies or hot dogs. A "log cabin"
laying of logs was best for an evening campfires you'd sit and sing songs around
at the end of the day.
Lots of skills had to be
learned to do the above. Planning menus, buying food, packing everything
properly for starters. Having the right cooking and eating utensils,
knowing how to prepare the food and cook it. Having recipes. Knowing
how to safely handle hatchets and knives and matches. Being responsible
for not burning down a forest. Where to pitch tents so they didn't catch
fire. All kinds of skills.
Sigh...How times change.
Today, often as not, it's
bagged or freeze-dried something or other that Boy
Scouts cook over plastic boil-in-bags. Heating of food or water happens
over propane or Coleman gas stoves. Campfires are made up of a bunch of
flashlights and lanterns heaped in a pile. You warm your hands over a
chemical light stick.
Now I need to say something
right here. Change and progress are not bad things. Lots of things
today are a zillion times better than they were back in the 50's. The
camping technologies are wondrous. I'm not someone longing for the ways
things "used to be."
For over 70 years my family
has been involved in the Boy Scouting movement, from my paternal grandfather to
my dad, to me, to my sons. Today, I own the Frederick Schwinn Cycling
store which is the authorized Boy Scout and Girl Scout Supply Trading Post in
this county. Additionally, we sell that freeze-dried food, those stoves,
and a lot of the other wonderful, lightweight equipment available today.
I'm aware of the ecological
concerns of the day, and the reasons so many of the things we learned to do as
Scouts are not done much now. Parks we used to camp in are closing.
Open fires, even in fireplaces, are forbidden. Streams are polluted.
Trash is left places. Opportunities for kids to learn about and from the
great outdoors, much less use nature's resources as I did as a youngster, are
evaporating, and I don't like it.
But I don't just not like it
and want to gripe about it...I want to propose something that can be done about
it. Right here and soon. In a way, this is a "Want Ad."
I want to find someone who shares my notion that a resource should be available
for our kids to use. Where they can go with their leaders and learn how to
use their training in nature's classroom. Where they can pitch tents,
build fires, practice woodsmanship, camp, and have fun.
Somewhere in Frederick
County there must be a parcel of property that is densely wooded, away from
development, accessible by car to within hiking distance, with or without a
stream, and pretty good for nothing except, maybe, Scouts to have constantly
available as a camping ground. My Scout shop could be the clearinghouse
for troops to request use of the camp. No development, permanent
construction or improvements would be allowed. No charges for use would be
If this property became
available through donation, gift, or sale and purchase...that'd be fine.
Right now, this is a "Want Ad." I'm looking for a place, and I
don't know where else to start to ask for help. Help!
I know there are bugs to
iron out. Issues to address. This is not going to be some commercial
endeavor. It's just going to be a piece of private property that can be
used by anyone who wants. Someplace reasonably close, safe, and left in
its natural state. Someplace like the places we used to camp in when I was
young. Someplace where kids can have some of the experiences and get a
start on creating some of their own memories, hopefully fond and terrific ones
like mine, of having been a Scout.
Share my dream.
J. Martin, Jr., writes from
Our Philosophy - R. Martin
"If you want to touch the past... touch a stone.
If you want to touch the present... touch a tree.
If you want to touch the future... touch a child."
WITH GREAT APPRECIATION: This website was designed and created for Tree-Land Foundation by the delightful Beatriz Wallace, an intelligent, very talented and lovely woman who's a student at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass. Thank you, Bea!
Last modified: August 05, 2005