There is an often-quoted phrase on scouting that says, “Once a scout, always a scout”. I have been in the scouting movement for 52 years. The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) started to function on 1 January 1938, under the virtue of Commonwealth Act 111 signed by the late President Manuel L. Quezon. I started my first scouting activity in 1964 until now as a school principal I represent my school as an institutional head. What I enjoy in scouting is doing service to others, the camaraderie of other scouts from other schools, and the fun-filled outdoor campaigns to places where I have never been.
My first ever organized troop of boy scouts in my first teaching area in 1991
My First Scouts
When I was on my first school assignment in 1991, I organized my first Scout troop. It was composed of 4 patrols: Carabao, Horse, Dog, and Cat, with their respective patrol leaders. The troop was led by a senior patrol leader (SPL). This troop was my first completed requirement after I underwent a week-long Basic Training Course (BTC) as a Troop Leader in a mountainous part of Talisay, Negros Occidental sometime in October 1992.
All those pupils were all first-timers to leave their respective parents. I taught them how to make their own tentage, using materials around them, for tents were too costly for the barrio kids like them to buy. They could easily learn it by doing. Every patrol member had his own respective duties and responsibilities to do. Everyone depended on each other and the boys were helpful, as one of the laws in Scouting is to do a good turn daily.
The Scouts had their first outdoor campaign in Barangay Ara-al, one of the 14 barangays in our region. It was located on top of the mountain. The place was very cool during the nighttime. Our troop came out the overall champion for all the Scouting games we participated in. The boys’ parents were very proud of them. It was my first feather in my cap as a new troop leader – and as a new school teacher. I get nostalgic to see their pictures again, and I keep the photos faithfully in my possession.
Dog Patrol putting up their improvised tentage – Photo/Gil Camporazo
“Learning by Doing”
In 1997, after six years as a Scout Master, I took my week-long advanced training course for troop leaders in Barangay Alibunan, in the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo. I belonged to a group of “Balud“, one of the native endangered bird species in the Philippines. Our course number was 196. I was able to pass all the challenges on the said training. It was my first time to do a commando crawl using the hanging rope to get through the other part of the pond. I won’t forget this challenge for I was about one meter from the end of the rope when I fell down to the pond. A frog which was floating on that pond died when I hit it. I was all soaked with murky water from the pond.
Another was a midnight challenge of finding from outside the greatest of God’s creations. Anything which everyone had seen and brought inside our session hall was put on top of a long table on display. I hadn’t gone outside to get anything, for it was heavily raining. As I glanced on the table, I saw stones of different sizes, leaves, grasses, bottles, among others.
I grabbed one of the members of our group and let him sit on top of the table. He didn’t resist. He just followed me when I took his right hand and sat quietly there. Our discussion for that night gave us the time to expound why we had selected the object as one of the greatest creation of God. Everyone had done their part and I came last to explain. The man I took was the oldest member of our group. I started explaining by reciting the process of creation as the Bible tells it. I mentioned man was the greatest creation which God has made, for he was created in His own image. God valued man so much that after his fall, He gave his Son to save him, to redeem him from his sins. I closed it by citing one of the two greatest commandments according to Jesus, and that is, love your neighbor as yourself.
I am carrying our patrol flag, for I am designated the patrol leader of the day. Photo: Gil Camporazo
“We are here tonight to value service. It is in service that we can make other people happy. Above all, we serve our God. Then we serve our fellowmen. And finally, we serve ourselves. It is in doing that we know all these things. And that is the scouting way. Goodnight!”
All photos by Gil Camporazo, the writer