The Troop Song
The Hawk Patrol has standards high
We’re moving forward all the time
This cast of hawks never lets you down
We’re Scouters on the uphill climb
We’re honor bound to service
On brotherhood our aims depend
We’re all of like persuasion joined
That Scouting may not ever end
Fall of the Leader On a sunny August Sunday in the Maine woods, parents, friends and scouts slowly stumble out of their campsites for the breakfast drill. Cooks assemble, coffee pots heat and the pancake griddle sizzles. No one is really awake and several kids pull the sleeping bag over their heads in hope of avoiding yet another work detail. Scoutmaster Pat Donnelly (Mr. D), has yet to appear. This summer marks his 20th year with Troop33, and the memory of many trips gone by drifts over this campground - scenic places along the Eastern seaboard as far north as Acadia National Park in Maine, as far west as Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and as far south as the Great Smokey Mountains in North Carolina.
As shepherd of the flock, Mr. D. had seen it all – hundreds of teenage boys, dozens of adventures, family convoys and the almost accidental progress of boys growing into men. With scouting as a compass, pointing towards the North Star of young adulthood, he has guided these lads past family comforts into the world of uncertainty and beyond. Yes, Mr. D. has seen it all, but today he does not rise for the morning program.
Two scouts playing cards at a picnic table are interrupted by a young boy frightened and shaking as he tries to speak. “Did you hear what happened? Mr. D. has died in his tent. Heart attack”. The card players laugh. “It’s too early for jokes. Why don’t you go chop wood, make a fire and burn some bacon? We’ve got better things to do than to listen to your nonsense”. But the joke won’t go away. As the morning unfolds, a tragedy of silence spreads from Mr. D.’s tent and fear takes holds throughout the troop. Faced with the harshness of a death in the woods adults scramble making calls to 911. A medical team arrives to take Mr. D. away. The troop has lost their leader.
The chaos of an aborted camping trip follows with the slow sadness of campsite breakdown and the long sullen drive home to Maryland with cars full of sorrowful children and grieving friends.