Scouting the past

Kapner attained the rank of Eagle Scout in one and a half years, which is far faster than it takes now. Today, aspiring Eagle Scouts must complete community service projects, among other things.

"I think that's a great idea, we didn't have anything like that back then," Kapner said. "I think that scouting has changed some."

Kapner said the best memories he has of scouting are summers spent at Pioneer Camp at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks and Camp Hawley near Kinderhook. He attended Pioneer Camp in 1931 for two weeks at a cost of $7.50 per week.

"It would be great if every scout could go through it," he said. "The only way we could get to our camp was a 2-mile canoe trip, and we didn't have any buildings, we slept in tents."

The scouts spent time clearing trails and performing other outdoors tasks.

Kapner said his scouting experience served him well when he enlisted in the Army in 1943. His three-year service as a radioman took him to Europe to fight in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge.

"Scouting helped me, I felt it was a big help," he said. "I had no problem with the drilling and the routines and the disciplines."

National Scouting Museum Assistant Curator Gail Mayfield has been gathering oral histories"including Kapner's"from across the country in preparation for the 100th anniversary. She said the response has been so strong she plans to leave the project open so it can continue to grow.

"Initially, the project was basically a local project," she said. "But I said, we really need to be having stories from scouters all over the United States."

She plans to put the database of stories online in the future.

"What I'm hoping is that I'm going to be able to have a section on the Web site itself where people can upload the stories as transcribed," she said.

Mayfield said Kapner's photo album would be added to the museum's permanent collection.

For more information on area scouting events during the BSA centennial, visit the Twin Rivers Council at www.bsa.siigroup.com.


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