Tree-Land Foundation Inc.

Helping young people learn to grow by creating hands-on, local and international environmental education programs that benefit the earth and its inhabitants and foster an “attitude of gratitude” among participants.

Robert J. Martin

Scouting:  I wouldn't 
trade the memories

       I 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 canned,

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 required.

     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.

Robert J. Martin, Jr., writes from Frederick .


                    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."



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    Email:     Tel.:  ( 301) 471- 9998     P. O. Box 535 , Myersville, MD 21773 USA  

WITH GREAT APPRECIATIONThis 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