Story of the Unknown Boxes & Adult Leaders

By | April 12, 2020

[April 12, 2020]  Three boys; all friends and inseparable.  I thought I might present a short tale about these boys, one that became known as the story of the unknown boxes.  At eleven years old, Randy, Wilson, and me (Doug) became eligible to join the Boy Scouts.  What a great year it would be for us three as we finally began to enjoy the benefits of scouting with experienced adult leaders.

Each of the troop’s five adult leaders had vast practical knowledge in camping, fishing, hunting, and scouting crafts.  They were outstanding men in our small town (there were no traffic lights).  All were on the volunteer fire department, members in good standing in our only in-town church, and had jobs and families.  What could better serve young boys and teach them the ways of adulthood and the improvement of one’s character?

What we did not know was that we were in for some humility training too.  In the previous season, our team had won the regional baseball championship.  We were cocky, but we made a good team.  We had fun and practiced running, jumping, and trekking through the woods surrounding our town.  Our grades were acceptable, and our parents were happy with our moral and intellectual progress.  What the adult leaders wanted to do was some character building in these three “cocky little boys.”

The first evening at the home of the Scoutmaster, we were introduced to a new game.  It was called “the saps keep running.”  They had us running throughout the house with the question of why we were running.  By the time I couldn’t run anymore and being the last of the three, I gave up and just asked what the point was.  They answered that only saps keep running; saps being a slang word for dope.

After getting a little tired out running in the house, now it was time to go outside and hunt a rare bird that only came out at night.  Snipe hunting apparently was an adult pastime that I’d never heard about before that evening.    They told us that snipes were easy to catch.  All one had to do was look under bushes carefully and grab one before the bird ran off.  We all got a chance to hunt the elusive snipes, and none of us ever caught one.

We were also given a task for the next day (a Saturday morning).  Each was to go to the only grocery store in town and pick up a cardboard box.  That box was to be used to create a nature scene from what we could find in the woods.  Easy, we all thought.  The three displays would be given great community attention at the science fair the following week.

By Friday, we all had our nature displays ready for the fair.  We stood next to our science projects.  What could go wrong?  We were well-versed in the ways of nature; each hunted birds, and could skin a squirrel.  As our teacher and mothers walked by our displays, they started to laugh so hard; I thought maybe somebody had given them laughing gas.

Local young women (we were somehow attracted to them) would also smile knowingly at us.  Somehow, we had not got the message.  Something was wrong, and we were the joke.  My display was exceptionally well-designed with a Blue Jay’s nest, fake bird eggs that I had painstakingly created, and a tree branch.  What I didn’t know was that the boxes that we had been given were tampon cardboard boxes.

We all were red-faced.  We’d been had again.  It wasn’t that we were saps or bad at snipe hunting, but we’d been set up for the entire community to see that we didn’t know that much.  Yes, we started the week before as cocky little boys.  We ended the week with a bit of humility training.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Story of the Unknown Boxes & Adult Leaders

  1. Eva Easterbrook

    Humorous article Gen Satterfield. I loved it. Stories about your jobs and growing up are very entertaining. A great story of humility.

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Here is a show of humility by the US Surgeon General Adams when he asked Americans of color to do it ‘for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your poppop.’ He was asking them to help flatten the pandemic curve. I say this because Gen. Satterfield has repeatedly used his “bigmama” (for teaching him life lessons) in his articles but Adams is being called a racist for use of those terms. This is where ignorance and news media stupidity comes in for exposure of their curruption.

    1. Bart Rhodes

      Excellent observation. The news media has failed us.

    2. Greg Heyman

      No one should be surprised with the anti-American, anti-democratic news media.

  3. Doc Blackshear

    Growing up is an opportunity to learn adult lessons slowly and without a lot of risk. But those who fail at it should not be given a pass. You should be given a chance to repeat things until you get it right. I think this is part of the message Gen. Satterfield is trying to convey to us. Teaching, coaching, and mentoring means you must care about those who are in your care. Scouting is about that very thing. When you begin to sacrifice that concern, you are no longer a true leader.

  4. Tom Bushmaster

    A tampon box; what a hoot. I guess you had a really educational week and I also bet that you couldn’t get this in the school system but only at the hands of mature men who knew what being a man is about.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Hi Tom. And, they would not show us shortcuts or give us the answer if we couldn’t “get” it. As a scout, either you completed the task or you didn’t. There was no hint or assistance. You did it or you didn’t.

    2. Harry Donner

      Yeah, Tom I also thought it was funny. Now remember that this was probably more than 50 years ago in a different time when something like this would embarrass a young boy. Today, I’m not so sure.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        I had something like this happen to me but it was with a cardboard box of condoms instead of tampons. As a girl, I wanted to show my friend’s parents how much I knew about constructing paper houses. “Condom” was written everywhere and I didn’t paper it over (I didn’t know). Talk about embarrassing when I found out (but didn’t really ‘get’ it until I was nearly 20).

  5. Willie Shrumburger

    Happy Easter everyone!! I know that General Satterfield was thinking it but I’m writing it. For all Christians in the world, I wish you all the best.

  6. Kenny Foster

    “Humility” …. we don’t teach that anymore. In fact, i will argue we do the opposite and encourage kids to be self-centered. That may explain why so many young adults believe the world “owes” them something.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Kenny, I do believe you are right on this issue. I think Gen. Satterfield, sometime in the past here on his blog, address that very issue. We are teaching people to be stupid (everyone must be equal!), narcissists (me, me, me), and liars to boot. Look at this blog’s ‘leader trends’ mini-series to find more.

      1. the ace

        Thanks Joe for the insight into this blog’s mini-series on leader trends. I’m a bit new here and didn’t know about them. I just went back to read a few and came away thinking, wow, our leaders are not doing us a good service by teaching the things we should NOT be learning.

      2. Lynn Pitts

        Good point, Joe. I will add that we are teaching young people to be dependent, less resilient, pampered, angry, and cowards. Now that is a real list.

    2. Max Foster

      So true, Kenny. We certainly don’t teach humility in school. That went out the door when we started teaching “self-confidence.” That destroyed any attempt for kids to learn that they don’t know everything and that they should be happy to have what they have and not want what the other person has. We teach them to judge themselves based on what others are like and not on what they are like yesterday.

      1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        Great point, Max. I want to let others know that what you said is so very important. Read it again and again. Learn.

  7. Eric Coda

    A bit of a funny story of mentorship, humility, and character building. This is what childhood should be about.

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