Until today I thought I knew everything about Eddie Kay's adventures at TMR. Eddie, Bernie Sussman and I had very strong bonds of friendship during the period 1950 through 1952 when we all headed for different parts of the USA and the world. We had lots of discussions. But never about the Wallenpaupak.
Eddie went into the Navy (aboard the Worcester where he was an outstanding radioman, Morse code to him is easy), Bernie into the Air Force (to London, England where he distinguished himself as an air traffic controller) and I (eventually) went into the Army (where I became a clerk typist in the S-2 Section of a Nike Guided Missile Battalion Headquarters at a sub-post of the Presidio of San Francisco) across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. That job was a natural for me considering my "Pencil Pusher" career at Brooklyn Scout Camp Headquarters, the summer of 1951 under Bob Broadwell's tutelage.
But, I never knew, until tonight, that Eddie and I made the Wallenpaupak Canoe Trip together in 1948. It's really amazing to me since we've had hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of discussions, but never a word about that summer experience until now. And that excursion has great personal significance for me.
Yes, I too remember the calluses that developed on both my hands on that trip; I believe that I can still feel them today. And the tiredness in my back. And the sun baking down on us day after day reflected on us from the water, in a day when no one used protective lotions, etc., etc. I remember all of that.
But the thing that stands out in my mind was the hike back up into Camp on a very steep and seemingly endless trail from behind Nick Dale's property at the very end of the trip.
I remember that climb as clearly as if it happened yesterday saying to myself, "I'm gonna die on this hike up this hill.... I'm never going to make it to the top, much less back to Camp."
And someone, one of our leaders, was nearby urging everyone to keep trudging up that hill and saying, "You can make it, you will make it, you must make it, on your own... there will be no truck or bus or car to take you back to Camp. Each of you will make this hill on his own."
And I did. And we all did. And I learned a great lesson that afternoon. In the end, when you think you have nothing left, when you are so damned tired that you just want to lie down and die, to quit, to not go one more blessed step; that's when your "second wind" comes into play if you keep on plodding along. AND YOU CAN MAKE IT, YOU WILL MAKE IT, YOU MUST MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN, IF YOU JUST KEEP MOVING.
That lesson has been repeated innumerable times in my life. I owe that realization to the Wallenpaupak Canoe Trip. It was important at age 14 and more important at ages 15 through 18 when I ran track (half mile) at Lincoln High School; and again when I entered College and never got enough sleep, and in the Army (on bivouac in 6 degrees below zero weather at Camp Carson, Colorado in winter Basic Training) and in Law School when finals came each year, and then the Bar Exam and then, and then, and then.... Many tests and many times the thought of "not" making it.....
What an experience Scout Camp was and still is........