OSCEOLA, MO – Try telling the 1,000 boys and 400 adults camped this week at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation that every gift is wrapped in pretty paper and bright bows.
They’re liable to take you for a walk.
A boy would guide you to the mess hall and run you through the KP drill he performs three times during his ten days at camp. If you’ve ever been a summer camper, you know how important the gift of KP is: It ensures you and your tablemates get three squares a day.
Or he’d lead you to his campsite’s platform tents to show off the patches he applied to the holes that welcome wayward water on stormy nights. Anybody who’s slept in a canvas tent during a summer storm values the tent patcher’s gift.
An adult would walk you to the youth and leader bathrooms at the camp swimming pool. He’d point out the sparkling showers and toilets, products of his gift: Participation in early morning bathroom cleaning duty on his troop’s designated day.
Or he’d point out the boys he’s helping complete merit badges. Between classes in troop campsites, numerous leaders give boys the gift of time and attention as they fulfill important advancement requirements.
Boy Scout camp at the 4,200-acre H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation – whose camps Lonestar, Sawmill and Piercing Arrow will serve more than 6,100 boys and nearly 2,500 adults during the summer’s six camp sessions – relies on an intricate system of give-and-take.
A leader does one thing, and a boy benefits. The boy does something else, and another boy is better off. He performs a good deed, and an adult leader comes out ahead.
I’m thankful donors long before my time had the foresight to make it all possible.
Kansas City’s well-known former mayor, H. Roe Bartle, was the professional Scouter who envisioned the potential of the camp and its unique honor camping program, the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. The tribe engages older Scouts and adults in leadership activities styled around Native American customs and traditions. Mic-O-Say, whose members are loyal and committed, makes Bartle one of the largest and most successful Scout camps in the country.
There also have been significant financial gifts over the years. The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, which makes challenge grants to select capital campaigns in a six-state region, has made several gifts totaling about $2 million to the reservation.
Such Kansas City corporations and foundations as J.E. Dunn Construction, DST Systems, the Hall Family Foundation and the William T. Kemper Foundation, among many others, also have supported the Boy Scout reservation financially.
And countless Scouters, who’ve shared as much as their wallets could spare, have collectively given millions of dollars over the years to sustain and improve the summer camp that has shaped so many youth and adults.
There’s no doubt we’ll get hot and sweaty this week at camp. There’ll be plenty of mosquito bites and sunburns, too.
Through it all, though, a powerful process is occurring. It will have a lasting impact on those who knowingly or unknowingly participate in it.
We’re learning how to give and receive.
In my book, that makes it all worthwhile.
Matt Beem is president of Hartsook Companies, an international fundraising consulting firm. He lives in Independence.