All night long, you’ve watched the scouts of Troop 103 compete and your heart is filled with pride. Second in the knot tying relay after just two weeks ago they were struggling to tie bowlines. First in the compass relay, our scouts are both smart and fast! Third in the bandage relay. They don’t win every event, but they are consistently near the top! Finally the time comes for the Scoutmaster drag. You think back to the time that Mr. A asked “Who can fill in for me? I asked my doc, but he said my knee’s not up to it just yet.” Despite your better judgement, you raised your hand. And now here you stand. Leather gloves and a blanket the only thing standing between you and some serious rope and floor burns. You see your friends on the side of the Gym and they call to you “Nice knowing you!” Mr A. comes up for what you think are words of advice. He looks down and asks, “What kind of flowers would you like?” He grins.

You swallow hard. They hand you your end of the rope. Tied in a loop, it looks exactly like a hangman’s noose. Perhaps this was a mistake. But the scouts have fought so bravely until now. You would hate to let them down. So you grab the rope and plop down on the hardwood floor. A couple of older scouts, suddenly so much wiser than you, offer words of advice. ” Wrap the blanket into the rope, you don’t want it to slip away like it did for…” Their words trail off as if in respect for a dearly departed scoutmaster. Trying to control the excitement, you twist the top of the blanket into the rope and dig in to your position.

Ahead of you, the scouts line up grabbing either side of the rope. Their feet are cocked into the starting position and their legs strain to keep from bursting forth. You are so excited, you don’t even hear the announcer’s call, but suddenly like a shot, they are off. Their legs churning ahead of you in a massive confusion. You lurch forward, desperately clinging to the rope as the crowd starts to blur by your side. Rounding the first turn, there is an older scout manning the rope closest to you. He is desperately trying to control the end to keep you from swinging wide and taking out a dozen or so spectators. The short chute passes like a blur and you approach the second turn. Suddenly one of the scouts ahead of you falters and goes down. The churning legs keep trampling and he manages to keep from underfoot, but when he finally reaches you, your swinging weight catches him full on the side. He tumbles over the top of you and then is gone. you try to look back, but a surge of speed from the scouts hitting the straightaway focuses your attention towards the far wall, now rapidly approaching.

Rounding the third turn, you are holding on for dear life. Another scout flies off into the void. At this point it’s impossible to tell if he was one of ours or a spectator. But you hardly have time to think of that as your vision is filled with the tangle of hardwood and steel that is the bleachers. Lowering your head in anticipation of a calamitous impact, you only raise it after you have somehow made the turn and miraculously avoided the bleachers entirely. Ahead of you, you can see the older scout that they assigned to the job, desperately holding the rope down and struggling to keep you from swinging to wide.

You are now on the home stretch. No more turns, just the finish line lies ahead. You shoot across your goal and spin to a stop. Standing up to thunderous cheering and high fives from all the scouts, you are on top of the world. You suddenly feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t felt the sheer thrill of the Scoutmaster drag and hope against hope that nobody will volunteer for next year, so that you can have one more lap.

Doug Hershberger