How I Rediscovered Summer
by Albert ‘Abby’ Ybarra
When I was a boy, my father, a Marine veteran of World War II, was the Boy Scout master. At first, not being of Boy Scout age, I tagged along with my Dad and hung with the older scouts. Our trips were usually long hikes with full backpacks to weekend camp-outs. Our camping trips were usually on very dry government reservations or local tribal lands. This land was little developed and a real challenge as well as a great setting for my imaginary exploits.
It wasn’t until we moved to a new community in California that I realized all Boy Scouts did not hike to outings and all leaders were not — like ours — Marines.
I couldn’t wait for summer because the season meant trips to my favorite rivers, creeks and caves, where my imagination could wonder back to another time when native people still lived off the land and shoes and long pants were not necessary. I’ve met a few folks out there who remember when summer meant taking off the shoes and getting “summer skin” on your feet.
The summer still holds that imaginary time for me.
Last summer, I helped hundreds of Cub Scouts overtake Kings Landing Park in Calvert County for a week of scouting activity and summer fun. A full-time volunteer, I would be not only revisiting the summer time of my youth; I’d also get the whole week with my nine-year-old son, Webelo Scout Diego.
Since moving to Chesapeake Country, I’ve tried to stake out time to get to know the natural parks of the area. With its lush growth, Kings Landing is a great place to see both Southern Maryland up close and the wildlife on the Patuxent River. The heat taxed us all, but mandatory water breaks kept us from heat exhaustion.
Most of Diego’s attentions focused on new Webelo activities so he could make the rank for the first year of a two-year program. Day after day we took our turns at the archery range and with BB guns. Occasional drizzle slowed us down, but we got in at least one good hike on the park trails. When we pushed for more hikes, one of the moms let us know that we shouldn’t take one of the long trails because it was “yucky.” I laughed inside because the Marine Scout leaders of my youth would make that mandatory.
We didn’t get our summer feet, but we had a great time every night talking about what we learned and what Diego liked about being a Scout. In between, I’d share my stories of summer camp in the Cuyamaca Mountains of Southern California and the good times I spent so many years ago with my father.
“Dad, I liked it all,” Diego told me as we looked back. “But mostly I liked it because you took off to be with me all week.”
Yes, Abby, there is indeed still a summer.