School had just gotten out and my scout troop was working on putting together a campout.

“Where’s Searle?” one of the boys asked.

I looked around group and sure enough, Searle wasn’t there. That really surprised me. Searle was the perfect young man. He never missed scouts and never got into trouble. He was small and spoke quietly when he spoke, but he was quite intellectual. In fact, he was so much so that most of what he said went past the other boys. They would be talking about something and he would speak with words that sounded like they came out of a Shakespearean play.

The other boys would look at him like he had dropped out of the sky, and then they’d go back to their conversation as if Searle hadn’t said anything.

And while the other boys would usually jump headlong into something, Searle would always think through it carefully before he did it.

Father’s Day came the next Sunday, and Searle joined us at church. As we met together for our youth meeting, the boys wrote letters to their fathers about what they were grateful for. I had special cards for them to put the letters in to give to their fathers.

As the boys passed back their pens and unused papers, Searle accidentally passed me his letter. I glanced at it and almost choked as I read, “I am grateful for a good father who is willing to come and get me out of jail at 1:00 in the morning.”

Searle was up for an advancement, and was supposed to stay after the meeting to have a scoutmaster conference with myself and my assistant. As our conference started, I handed Searle’s letter back to him. He blushed when he realized I had seen what he had written.

“So, Searle, do you have anything you want to tell us?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “I missed scout meeting last week because it was the last day of school, and some friends talked me into some things.”

“What kind of things?” I asked.

“Well, it was one thing that led to another, and so on.” he answered, beating around the bush.

“And what were those things?” I asked.

“Well, at first we were just going to climb up on the water tower after dark. But then one of the guys decided it might be fun to put a goat or two up there. Then someone said it would be more memorable if it was a cow.”

He paused as my assistant was having trouble holding a straight face.

“Go on,” I encouraged.

“Well, we got the cow to the base of the tower, and then we couldn’t figure out how to pull her up. I climbed up on top and rigged a pulley, and the guys on the ground started winching her up. We got her about half way up when she got nervous and started thrashing about. She started swinging back and forth like a pendulum in a hurricane.

“That was when the Sheriff showed up. All of my friends ran off, and there I was with that stupid cow tick-tocking along the water tower, and me unable to get down and get away.”

When he stopped, he looked at me. “So, do I not get the advancement?”

My assistant had tears pouring down his face and was chortling so loud I could hardly talk.

“Well, Searle, part of your advancement is based on citizenship. How do you feel about your citizenship when you were trying to put a cow on the water tower?”

My assistant reached over and hit me in the shoulder. “Go easy on him. When I was his age, my father would have been glad to find out I was in jail just so he would know where I was.”

And with that, Searle got the advancement, but only after he promised there would be no more attempts at putting cows on the water tower.


(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at [email protected]“>[email protected]; or visit his website)