aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

God is an eight-color patch

When I finally get around to writing my book on Christian Education in the local church, the chapter on Scouting ministries will bear the title, God is an eight-color patch.

At the 1993 National Scout Jamboree, I was so sad at seeing all the patch traders sitting on their blankets by the side of the road (instead of out having fun), that I decided that I simply must "cry out" upon them, prophetically. So I lifted up my voice and began to chant like a beggar, "Patches! Patches for the love of God!" Several Scouts began throwing patches at me, God bless 'em.

My friend Lane was a Troop Chaplain in Kansas. He was out camping with his boys' troop when a horrific storm blew up, carrying their whole campsite away. The kids were huddled in a ravine while the fierce storm blew over them. One 11-year-old kept saying, over and over, "It's my fault. God's out to get me." Lane was aghast, but before he could counsel this Tenderfoot that he could not possibly have done anything to make God so angry with him, the next little boy said, "No -- it's me he's after."

When I was a teenage staffer at Camp Wapehani the last year of the camp's operation, we had no dining hall service. The troops cooked all their meals in their campsites, and we staff had to eat what they cooked. I kept getting assigned to this troop from Bedford, all of whose members were Catholic. They always asked this little kid named Gonzo (short for Gonzales?) to say grace. Gonzo had an amazing talent: He could say, "Bless-us-O-Lord-and-these-thy-gifts-which-we-are-about-to-receive-through-the-bounty-of-Christ-our-Lord-Amen" faster than you can read it, and still have his hand in the first serving dish before anybody else.

In 1997, I was the head UM Chaplain at the Jamboree, and we had 3,000 Scouts and leaders for a service of Holy Communion. At the end of the service, as people were wandering off and those of us who were feeling pleased with how well it all went were talking, two Scouts came up through the crowd and approached Chaplain Phyllis. They explained that they had started late, and found the way longer than they expected (typical of a Jamboree). But they also said that they had had a kind of worship experience along the trail, just the two of them, and what they wanted to know was: could they take communion? Don't you just love getting questions you know the answers to?

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