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Thank You for Lessons Learned

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 7
4/5/2013


By Taylor Ramsey

I consider myself a fortunate person because some very special people had a large influence on my life. My maternal grandparents and my father & mother-in-law provided very positive guidance for me.

The one person who inspired me when I was young and seemed to know what I really needed was my first scoutmaster. As a young child, I was not aware of what a blessing it was to have this man enter my life, but I certainly do now.

I was super shy as a young boy. My parents got me involved in sports and Cub Scouts and those activities seemed to help, but I was shy and unsure. My disposition did not help me in my school work either.

My parents had arranged for me to attend the scout meeting of a brand new Troop with a new Scoutmaster. I was very apprehensive about meeting a group of people and a man I did not know … that was me.

I remember walking into the meeting and there he was. A giant of a man, dressed in his uniform, barrel-chested and very strong looking. I remember him approaching and standing over me as I looked up at him.

He stuck out his huge hand and I could see that it had scars, dark lines of maybe grease that would not wash off and his rough mitt engulfed my hand as I shook it. He was a “working” man. He did his best to make me feel welcome, but I simply stood to the side and waited.

Mr. Webb knew exactly what he was doing. The first group of leaders were being assigned because we did not know each other very well. Mr. Webb looked down at me and said, “you are our new Senior Patrol Leader!” I looked up at him and wondered if he was out of his mind? Me? But, it was impossible to stand up to Mr. Webb and tell him I would not do it.

Well, Mr. Webb and Scouting brought me out of my shell and I adapted very well. From that moment on, I gained a new confidence as well as a wonderful and exciting learning experience lasting many years.

I visited Mr. & Mrs. Webb’s home many times over the years. Mr. Webb had a room in his home full of mementos, souvenirs, pictures and treasures that were important to him. Every bit of wall and floor space was filled with his precious items. It was obvious this World War II Veteran was proud of his service, but more proud to be an American. I loved that room, as I felt safe and very comfortable in there speaking with Mr. Webb.

Mr. Webb made me earn every rank and award I strove to achieve. He would not let me quit or cut me any slack in testing me. I knew when I earned an award, I really did earn it. Many years later when I was a Scoutmaster, at Mr. Webb’s urging, I asked him to test my son for one of his ranks in scouting. My son was very nervous, and he sat in the very same room I used to sit in at the Webb home. My son was excited to tell me he passed, which made me very proud, for I knew my son had prepared and met the test … great lesson.

Mr. Webb’s mother was blind, but lived on her own. He made sure I visited her home more than once. I later realized he wanted to teach me another lesson about being happy no matter the situation. Grandma Webb demonstrated people can do so much with determination and by the attitude they bring to their lives. She illustrated how to be happy by being grateful to God for what you have.

Every year there is a week dedicated as Scout week. During that week it was suggested we wear our scout uniforms to school. I remember telling my mom and dad that there was no way I was going to wear that uniform to school. The teasing and torment I would receive from my classmates would not be good.

However, it would be tough to tell Mr. Webb I would not wear it. I wore it and I learned I could take the teasing with that uniform on and was stronger for it. Lesson learned.

I learned how to survive in the wilderness, operate power tools, safely handle a firearm, properly use a map and compass, serve others, be grateful for being an American, how to show and gain respect, be loyal, to work hard to achieve a goal, how to acknowledge a goal achieved and to love God and country. The list of lessons he taught and demonstrated can go on and on.
When Mr. Webb passed away several years ago, I was sad, but I felt his presence and it made me happy to think about him as the man he was. I was pleased that in my late 30s, I felt the need to send Mr. Webb a letter telling him how much he meant to me and how grateful I was for all he gave me.

My son and I attended his funeral and I was amazed at all the men in the audience who felt the way I did. Mr. Webb touched so many lives in so many positive ways.

I am grateful for Boy Scouting and Mr. Webb.

taylor@longbeachcomber.com
Twitter: @TaylorPRamsey