Bob Mitchell: 'Follow me'
Back in the days of being involved with Troop 76 of the Cassville Boy Scouts, "Follow Me" was the slogan of the movement that was one of the most outstanding in the Ozarks Region. Time after time, the charges of Scoutmaster Charles Vaughan and a stalwart group of assistants proved their superior knowledge of Boy Scout skills in various competitions.
The basis reason for their successes was grounded in their constant practice and use of scout skills. This was accomplished with their own outings and participation in Camporees -- usually with other troops from the area. These general outings were open to all groups that wished to be involved.
Broken Arm valley
Their own camping area didn't do any harm for Troop 76 learning life skills living in the outdoors. The area was some 30 acres of land located southeast of Cassville that was given to the troop by a timber company that had speculated on the land but never put it to use.
To get to the camping area required a hike-in, carrying all the equipment required for a weekend stay. There was always some moaning and groaning about the extended walk to the valley. Sometimes, there were some of the smaller members who needed help from the adult leaders.
A flowing spring at the site added much to the availability of water for activities and meals. Rainbow Trout provided by the late John Pottebaum disappeared when the scouts were absent from their camp.
A requirement for first-timers in the valley was going through the Needle's Eye -- a rock on the bluff above the valley. It was a true needle's eye for some of the adults who were usually on the trip, as the circular formation was quite a squeeze off the narrow trail accessing the formation.
A second place available for outings was the Chester Snider farm on Flat Creek in the Cato community, now owned by Mike Carr. From the Highway 39 Bridge to the camping area strung along the creek, was another one of the hike-ins, which proved not very popular by some of the visiting groups.
With staffers from all those participating, judging of scout skills was tough and strict, as was the arrangement of campsites and equipment. Cassville's equipment was always at the top of the list, with assistance from both the American Legion and Cassville Rotary Club, as well as the scouts' own fundraising. This assured adequate funding.
Old CCC camp
A popular gathering place for district Camporees was the old CCC camp, located off YY Highway south of Shell Knob. There were no facilities in the area at that time, resulting in additional needs. Here again, a hike-in from the Highway 39 junction brought moans and groans from many visiting troops, but it didn't seem to bother Troop 76, whose members were accustomed to this form of travel to an event site.
The only organized gathering of troops Cassville missed was an outing on the football field at what is now Missouri State University. The site was chosen by district headquarters in Springfield and presented no real challenge, as did the rural locations.
At the District facility at Camp Arrowhead near Marshfield was where Troop 76 really put their feet forward for a best effort one year. Each and every member was said have put their best effort in study events and physical competition. It was in the latter where scores jumped the highest.
Tap-out selections for the Order of the Arrow were high for the troop that year in recognition of their efforts.
Had some of today's recording and photo equipment been available in the early days of Broken Arm Valley, the sights and sounds of the "Staff Tent" would have been something for posterity.
This was a rather large tent that was reserved for adults accompanying the young scouts on their trip. In those days, there was a regular group that went along.
With Charles Vaughan, T.J. Smading, Bill Ash, Spiz Stephens, Max Fields and me in sleeping bags, covered head to foot, sounds coming from that tent were enough to keep any varmint out of the hollow for the whole evening.
Hoisting a lantern to a treetop after dark, and providing some other sounds, often led the scouts to believe a Sasquatch was coming down upon them after they had retired for the evening.
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.