Scouts discover honor for country in nature

Ben Wolford

The trading post at Manatoc Scout Reservation is alive with the chatter of Boy Scouts just glad to be in the shade. Among them sits Lee Spilker, director of the post, who became a scout in 1965.

He says, sure, Boy Scouts learn how to respect an American flag, but they develop a love of country that’s deeper than folding cloth and reciting pledges.

“When they’re out here, they get closer to the land,” Spilker says. “More so than patriotism, you’re back with nature and you can think about your values, your morals, your loyalties and your relationship with your God.”

The trading post Boy Scouts are getting louder and Spilker finds the cause.

“Check this out,” he says and nods toward a group playing cards with one of the few females on the campground.

They make little disguise that they don’t take her for granted.

“People take everything for granted, like our freedoms and such,” he said. “Then it takes something like 9/11 to happen, and it kind of wakes the country back up. But I don’t think that our scouts have ever lost that sight.”

On a hill in the distance, an American flag flops in the wind. Behind it a mass of trees conceals earthen camp sites where boy scouts make their weeklong homes.

A sign on the road leaving the camp reads, “To these things we must return.”

To nature. To the land.