What's New

Pack’s kindness to strangers is the essence of Scouting

The Dutch family was tired and hungry after a long day of traveling when they pulled into Sequoia National Park in California.

After they tried and failed to get a fire started to cook dinner, their night could have been ruined.

Good thing their neighbors happened to be Scouts.

The Cub Scouts and leaders of Pack 329 from the San Gabriel Valley Council noticed the family’s struggles and offered to help them start the fire. This polite gesture eventually turned into an evening of fellowship with complete strangers as the Cub Scouts and Cub Scouters served the family dinner and performed skits for them.

Overwhelming kindness toward strangers happens all the time in Scouting, but I can’t seem to get enough of stories like these.

So I thought I’d share this excellent example of Scouting kindness, as told by Pack 329 Cubmaster Paul Wong. Here goes … 

Pack 329’s Good Turn

By Paul Wong, Pack 329
We were winding down our five-day Sequoia National Park camping trip at Dorst Creek Campground around 8:30 p.m. We had just finished our evening meal of beef stew and were preparing for the evening skits and songs. Before our Cubbies had settled around our fire, we noticed an RV pulled up at the next campsite.

A family of five (mom, dad, two teenage boys, one teenage girl and a 9-year-old girl) had set up a fire pit but were having difficulty starting it. Wolf Den Leader David Wu went over to help. I followed shortly afterward. They only had one flashlight, and Dom (the father) was struggling in the dim light. We offered to start a campfire for them using our extra bundle of wood. At first they politely refused (probably thinking that a crazy guy in ranger-looking uniform spelled trouble). We prevailed, and with the help of the two boys, we brought the extra wood over.

As I prepped the campfire, Dave learned that they were visiting from Holland and had just come over from San Francisco and Yosemite on a four-week vacation. I got the fire going, and by then, our 13 Cubbies (and siblings), along with parents, had settled around our own fire and were starting their skits. David and I said goodbye and invited them over for s’mores and roasted hot dogs. They politely declined again.

As our boys were performing their skits and singing our perennially favorite “Bear Song” to bring out a bear, I looked over at the Dutch family and realized that their salmon meal had not even begun cooking.

I slipped over to their campsite and asked them to join us. I told them we had plenty of beef stew and other goodies. I had this funny feeling that the Dutch family seemed out of sorts. I chalked it up to hunger (it was nearly 9 p.m.), so I insisted they join us. They came over, and I announced to our families that our neighbors just drove in from Yosemite and were hungry. We dug up extra chairs and seated everyone. Beef stew was quickly scooped into bowls and delivered. We learned the little girl was vegetarian, so one of our moms made a quick grilled-cheese sandwich. Hot chocolate was circulated.

The only thing we asked in return was a song from them.

All the while, our Cubbies grew excited. They finally had an audience to perform to! As we were serving food, the Cubbies sang the “Bear Song” (twice) along with “This Land is Your Land.” They performed their skits and told jokes for nearly 40 minutes. I delivered the Cubmaster’s Minute to wind the evening down when I was reminded that we were going to hike to a clearing and watch for shooting stars. Naturally, we encouraged our newly met neighbors to join us.

Dom’s family returned to their campsite, and we heard them practicing a few songs.

Webelos Den Leader Joanne Jen went over and returned with our neighbors. We hiked up to a clearing above our campsite and watched the stars. I talked about different aspects of astronomy, star gazing, star formation, etc. I even did my Darth Vader impression and drew laughs from our Dutch friends.

One by one, our Cubbies drifted off to sleep, nestled in the arms of our parents. Dom’s family asked questions and remarked at the beauty of the night sky. I encouraged everyone to dream of a future traveling in space and perhaps this night was the night that sparked that travel. We saw lots of shooting stars.

We ended our stargazing around 10:45 p.m., and our Cubbies retired to their tents. As Dom’s family left for their own campsite, Dom gave me a great big bear hug and thanked Dave and I for the evening.

They arrived late at the campsite because they had come across a single-car accident earlier in the day only to discover that the driver had died. They waited for rescue and to keep watch over the body. Dom was very worried that their vacation would be difficult because of the memory of the day’s tragic event.

Instead, we left a sad family with very happy memories and much laughter. The next morning, Dom’s wife told us that they were glad they had experienced their first American “concert” with us. The whole family felt renewed and enamored with our cubbies. They were excited to travel on and were looking forward to the rest of their trip. We all gave hugs and many thanks for being an audience.

I am very proud of our Scout families and especially of our Cubbies. They welcomed our neighbors with open arms and joyfully sang and joked and all the while sharing their s’mores and hot dogs. I am glad we made a difference in a family’s life, however brief and fleeting.

pack-329-2 pack-329-3 pack-329-4 pack-329-5

30 Comments on Pack’s kindness to strangers is the essence of Scouting

  1. You guys are awesome! Thank you for being great ambassadors for Scouting.

  2. The True Spirit od Scouting!!!!

  3. Pack 329, what you did was neither brief nor fleeting. There is a family from Holland that will never forget this trip. You will be immortal in their minds.

  4. Pretty cool :) Reminds me of the time our GS troop was camping at a state park, when the whole place had to be sheltered in the (tiny) cinderblock women’s restroom due to big storms coming through. Our girls entertained the families and little ones who were pretty scared by the howling winds with tons of camp songs :)

  5. Acts of kindness are just a natural occurrence to scouts, we do not even realize that we are doing them, what alone even look for recognition. Perhaps that is why you cannot get enough of these stories. Kind of a shame because scouts do wonderful things everyday.

  6. Tom Ventriglia // August 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm // Reply

    Way to go! Now that is one great turn. Bravo from Troop 235 & Crew 885 North Plainfield, Nj

  7. Scouting is a stepping stone to the police force or the military. The saluting of a person seen as being above you is militaristic. The focus on grave stones putting flags on them is worshiping the dead. The way scouts is run needs to change or cease to exist.

    • Connie Knie // August 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm // Reply

      How can that possibly be the only thing you can think of to say? I have to say I sincerely hope you are not a registered leader in the BSA.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I am not even going to argue your point as it is just that………yours………..
      But this was a beautiful thing these Cub Scouts and their leaders did. Not only did they help a family overcome a potentially traumatic memory of a vacation to a memory (that while it may never go away) that is instead a night filled with good food, good friends and humanity at its best.
      And the lesson that was taught to the Cub Scouts?………..priceless

    • We don’t salute those “above” us. We salute the American Flag. And I didn’t realize that paying our respect to those in the military who died serving there country was worshiping them. You must not be a Scouter…..

    • Mr. Troll (aka “artiwhitefox”),
      You are obviously not in scouting, nor do you know anything about it, so unless you can add something constructive to this subject, please do not say anything at all.
      Go back to the rock you crawled out from under.

    • Bruce Dolder // August 4, 2014 at 10:29 am // Reply

      The general rule of etiquette for a blog like this is:
      If you agree with the thought, feel free to praise it to your heart’s content.
      If you disagree with the thought, and feel you must be critical, then be critical in a constructive manner, or DON’T PROVIDE ANY FEEDBACK AT ALL.
      When you criticize is a destructive manner, all you are doing is showing your own ignorance.
      You obviously have no experience in Scouting, as the mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
      The Cub Scouts of Pack 239 and their leaders deserve all of the praise they have received, and more.
      We always joke that in Cubs Scouts, the leaders plan all of the activities, the Cub Scouts show up, have fun, and learn something, including life lessons, along the way.
      The lessons those Cub Scouts learned and the memories they will have from that experience will be with them FOREVER. It would not surprise me if this memory ends up being discussed at each of their Eagle Scout Boards of Review!
      KUDOS TO THE CUB SCOUTS AND LEADERS OF PACK 329!!!

    • Paul Minenna // August 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm // Reply

      Your opinion of scouting is yours. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ideals of what scouting is and has been for 100+ years. Scouting is about learning by doing, service to others and living by a code of ethics [scout oath and scout law]. You can’t name another organization which does not “cut” a member but accepts all.

      As far as a military connection Lord Baden Powell was a military man and used much of what he knew to start scouting. The number of former scouts in all professions far out numbers those entering “police” mentality professions. What is wrong with being in such a profession anyway? It is about respect, honor and patriotism that we teach in scouting. I sure hope that you are not in any profession that works with youth. Your thinking I highly flawed.

  8. Very awesome pack 329!

    I’m sorry you are so hateful artie. Scouting isn’t to train for military or police work. It’s showing respect. Flowers on graves is also a sign of respect people put flowers on families graves all over the world everyday. And so many kids these days need to learn respect because they dont have any… for anyone. If you don’t like scouting then you could have passed on this story and moved right along.

    Mom of a boy scout and a cub scout.

  9. Pack 329 showed the true heart of Scouting. What these Scouts, their leaders, and families did for this family in their time of need is just what any other Scout would do. Coming to this family’s aid is what any Scout would do just because it is the right thing to do – not for recognition but for the shear joy oh sharing and helping another.

  10. Thank you Pack 329. Your actions, willingness to help a family feel at home in your country is what Scouting is about. Yes, Artiewhitefox, our founder may have been a military man, but he never forgot the service that youth performed during the Boer war. He also started scouting to help young boys become real men. From your comments I believe you have never experienced the love we can share, every day, to others around us. Perhaps you’ve been hurt by an action in the past. I’m really sorry if that is what happened. Scouting today has changed and evolved to help youths discover that sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer doesn’t sum up their lives. That there is an alternative. We may salute the flag, but that is because we ‘serve our country’ by being who we are and what we have learned to do through scouting. We look up to authority because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to recognize that authority is what rules countries. And, the authority exists everywhere you work and play. And you say that Scouting is a step into military and police forces? You’re right, it is, but only if the youth is comfortable in doing so. Other opportunities are also open to him/her. Member of parliament, business owner, lawyer, doctor, dentist, nurse, care giver, manager, culinary chef, taxi driver, teacher and I could go on. For myself, if I hadn’t had scouting offered to me, I wouldn’t have developed skills that today merit university degrees: human resources, executive secretary, First Aider and FA Station Coordinator, board member, plant expert. I heard today something that might help you: Do not look for fame, fortune and recognition of your works. Instead do small things with great love. I hope one day you will see and feel that scouting is a youth program open for all.
    A district Commissioner, Rover Crew Advisor, Training Coordinator and FAS cooridnator for numerous Scout camps….. please note that all of these positions are volunteer. If I didn’t believe in the value and morals of Scouting, I wouldn’t give my time.

  11. THAT’S what it’s all about! Great job Pack 329! Three “Hows and a half!” (“How! How! How! Huh!”)

  12. Squishy627 // August 4, 2014 at 8:03 am // Reply

    Stories like these are ones that me me proud to work for the BSA. It proves that Scouting is an organization that encourages our young people to do what is right. Great job Pack 329!!!! As for artiewhitefox you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. Scouting is a stepping stone for young people to become productive members of our communities, if that means joining the military to serve our country or the police force to protect our communities then so be it.

  13. Your Cub Scouts were not only good ambassadors for Scouting, they were good ambassadors for America.

  14. This Pack did a great job and should be commended from the unit leaders down to the Den Chief. Stories like this should be praised and shared as much as possible.

  15. Excelllent Cub Scouts!!!

    Venturing Crew 261 (SGVC)

  16. Thanks for all the thoughts. I am very proud of the Scout families and their kindness. We always talk about be neighborly and it was great to have an opportunity to show others that Scouting is Fun, Friendly and Funny (and not to mention prepared). Just an FYI, Dolores Estrada is the Cubmaster for Pack 329. Paul (me) serves at the Pack Committee Chair and was the acting Cubmaster for the Sequoia National Park camping event. I’m also a Roundtable Commissioner for SGVC Mission Amigos District.

  17. Fl Den Leader // August 5, 2014 at 11:53 am // Reply

    I lived in the Netherlands growing up and the Dutch people are known for their friendliness and never-meet-strangers demeanor. It’s so heartwarming to know they met with the same attitudes here in the U.S., amongst scout friends! YIS, a den leader from FL

  18. Well done Pack 329!

  19. Awe, GREAT work boys and parents of Pack 329!

  20. This reminds of my first camping trip with the kids I forgot coffee there was a boy scout troupe in the youth campground I walked over ready to donate 20 for a cup of joe I got eggs bacon and they refused to take the money

  21. so awesome! will be sharing this story with our aussie cubs next week!!

  22. Sending you all a virtual cub round of applause. Your scouts are well on their way; they’ve already learned my favorite of the Boy Scout law elements, and put it to use: a scout is kind. Bravo!

  23. Russell Zimmerman // August 6, 2014 at 3:22 am // Reply

    Mr. Wong, Mr. Wu, and all the Scouts (and other family members) of Pack 329 — all I can say is thank you. I’m an Eagle myself (class of 1995, from Troop 1, in Kentucky), and this story brought a tear to my eye. Your generosity and kindness were terrific, and that family’s going to remember these good-hearted American kids for a long time. Thank you for being terrific ambassadors of Scouting, and for sharing this terrific story with us.

  24. Not only did your Cubs and their families represent themselves, your Pack and the BSA in the most positive way possible but also the United States of America. Thanks to everyone involved!

  25. Alexander O. // August 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm // Reply

    As an Eagle scout and committed youth leader in my scout troop (With ten years of actually being a scout ) I feel as if I have a good idea about what scouting is and what it can do for others, and I believe that what Pack 329 did truly was a great thing and will be something to look back upon and be proud of. Those Cubs made an excellent example for not only the organization but for people everywhere.

Join the conversation