"I stayed overnight alone in the dark woods without a tent," Michael said. Although his mother was not too far away, other stipulations for the weekend of self-sacrifice and service required no talking and eating. The Scout was mum on details, as the requirements are to remain secret from incoming honor campers. His mother earned the distinction as well, becoming the sixthwoman in the Baltimore region to attain the honor.
Two Scouts from Catonsville have reached Star Life and are working toward the Eaglerank, the highest of all. Four boys have made it to First Class; the average troop member takes about 2 1/2 years to advance from one rank to the next, while other Scouts take approximately a year to attain First Class.
"It takes the boys a little longer to advance between ranks, but they get beads to put on their belts for each accomplishment and are awarded instantly for anything they do," Norene Parker said.
Although certain allowances are made, Scouts must meet requirements for obtaining ranks and badges. "It would be easy to cheat; we want them to tie those stupid knots. Tying knots is the most difficult -- and Michael has only the use of one hand," she said.
Routine Scout procedures for camping are sometimes bent a little, and supervision is close.
Vehicles are parked as close to the campsite as possible so that backpacks aren't carried for great distances. The troop forgoes three-mile hikes because those would exclude some of the handicapped Scouts and the Parkers prefer not to split the troop by ability.
But the rest of the activities are like those of other troops. There's food preparation, cleanup, exploring the outdoors, makingup skits and finally off to sleep -- which isn't until around 2 a.m.on the first night out.
Photo albums depict various camping tripsand activities of the group. There are jubilant Scouts rappelling down a hillside, climbing a rope fence, canoeing across a river, ridinga helicopter and shooting arrows during archery practice -- proof that these Scouts know how to have fun.