Tuesday, July 22, 2008

First Contact

I noted on the Monmouth Council BSA website that the first Philmont trek was in 1947. I was a member of that group which was actually in 1946 and have lots of photos of it and also my diary. Is any one interested in that material? I know where there are stacks of historical photos and other material on scouting in Monmouth County.

Over the last several years I have sent at least three, possibly more, e-mails trying to make contact with somebody in the council office but the only response I get is invitations in the mail to come to some Eagle Scout ceremony.

I was a Life Scout with 35 Merit Badges but never passed the swimming requirement as I sank like a rock and did not learn to swim until I returned from service in the Korean War and was a student at the UC at Berkeley in 1955.

I didn't make Eagle but I did make Ph.D., served in the US Foreign Service, speak Chinese Mandarin and Spanish, have been named 'Honorary Citizen' in Manizales, Colombia for my work with the marginal populations of that city and also given the 'Keys of the City in Gold' along with the Honorary Citizen title, the first time such was ever given to a foreigner. By the way, while in Manizales I hosted a reception for Lady Baden-Powell. The Mayor of the Metropolitan City of Gwangju (population 1.4 million) in South Korea presented me with the title of 'Honorary Citizen' (number 24) and an impressive gold medal for my work during the Korean War for the orphans. I have been referred to in the Korean press as 'Godfather of Korean Orphans.' My web site on that topic has over 1,500 pages of stories and photographs. <http://www.koreanchildren.org/> . The center for the preservation of indigenous populations of Peru has honored me for my work with the native populations of the world (mostly in Latin America). I was named 'Outstanding Citizen of the Year' in my home town (for the last 40 years), Bellingham, Washington. My resume of civic and community service activities takes 35 pages to list!

I am writing my book "70 years of Scouting" so it will be ready for the 100th anniversary of scouting. I'll mention the Monmouth Council, BSA and, if the council shows any interest in what happened to a former scout from their district I will share copies of all the material used in preparing the book.

By the way, while working in Guatemala in 1950 with the Inter-American Geodetic Survey (climbing mountains and trekking through the jungles as a true scout would love to do) I took several days vacation time and flew to Mexico City to take my College Entrance Exams for admission to Rutgers University. I left the job with the IAGS to return to the U.S. in time to attend the 1950 National Jamboree at Valley Forge but the Korean War broke out so I never did enroll at Rutgers. I attended the jamboree as an 'illegal immigrant' as I was not a member of a registered contingent. I stayed with my former scout troop from Monmouth Council but Art McKinney, International Commissioner of the BSA saw me at the international camp site and ordered me off the premises. Just then the Chief Scouts of Mexico and Guatemala appeared and, ignoring Art McKinney, came over to give me an embrace. In Spanish I told them my problem and the Chief of Guatemalan scouts told McKinner "Drake is an Honorary member of the Boy Scouts of Guatemala and is here as a member of our contingent". McKinney was pissed and scolded me for breaking rules but he ultimately bit his tongue and left me alone. Years later I got my BA and MA at UC - Berkeley and the Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I retired as Director of the Office of International Programs at Western Washington University in 1990. While there I also served as Professor of Sociology, Chair of the Center for East Asian Studies and for a number of years served as Special Assistant to the President for International Programs. Recently I served for a stint as Research Director for the US National Korean War Museum now being built in Springfield, Illinois.

Scouts are supposed to be physically fit and I try to keep that ethos in mind as I ride thousands of miles on my bicycle each year. My plan is to ride at the National Senior Games in 2010 as an 80 year old. My strategy to win a bicycle race is to out-live the competition. I can recall the suffering I endured on the 50 mile ride to earn the Cycling merit badge. Now, from time to time, I ride 50 or more miles before lunch on Sundays. My bike back then weighed at least 35 lbs, I am sure. Now my titanium steed weighs half that. Oh, I should mention that in December of 1948 I left New Jersey with a new 3-speed bicycle and with a letter of introduction from the Boy Scouts of America I headed for South America. I visited scout groups in Mexico and all countries in Central America. As I note above I returned from that trip in June of 1950.

'nuf for now. I'll send this out in cyberspace and see if it lands anywhere. Do let me know if you want that Philmont Scout Ranch stuff from Wagon Train #-7.

Yours in scouting,
George F. Drake

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