By Bill Derby
I don’t remember whose idea it was. Maybe it was a consensus agreement among our little group. It was a big mistake, bad judgement on our part. We were the oldest scouts in our troop. We should have known better.
A couple times a year our Boy Scout Troop 40 participated in large group camping programs within the Sequoyia Council. Troops from all over the surrounding counties converged on a particular area for combined activities. This annual campout was scheduled for the Mountain Home VA Center for Memorial Day programs. We were to place American Flags on veteran’s graves.
It so happened our campsite was within close proximity to the VA’s border, which was very close to the Family Drive-In Theatre. The VA had a high chain link fence to keep us in and others out. The drive-in had a high wooden fence too.
One scout in our band had read in the paper that a certain movie was showing at the drive-in at the same time we were camping. As 12-year-olds our curiosity about girls was more on our mind than earning merit badges. It was something we had no control over. The hormonal development just kind of took over our reasoning ability to clearly determine right from maybe not so right. Anyway, that’s the excuse.
The movie playing next to our campsite was some kind of Swedish production. It advertised pretty girls frolicking in snowy mountain scenes. We didn’t know exactly what that meant but felt sure we might gain valuable experience about the opposite sex.
We set our plan in motion. We decided to escape the VA after bed check, sneak over to the drive-in, climb the fence and watch an informational program about pretty girls. All went as planned. We scaled the high chain link VA fence and tiptoed over to the wooden fence hiding the movie screen. We used our Boy Scout skills to climb over the barrier and drop silently to the ground.
The movie was not a box office blockbuster. Only a few cars with the window speakers were randomly parked around the drive-in. We silently crept to the nearest window speakers and turned up the volume. We sat on the ground trying to be invisible.
The people were talking in Swedish. We couldn’t understand a word. They walked along a mountain trail in knee-deep snow in blazing sunshine. All of a sudden the film showed a couple of blond gals sleighing down the mountain bouncing over bumps. As advertised they were topless. I do recall the many bumps their sleigh hit.
We kept looking over our shoulder waiting for the drive-in police to catch us breaking and entering. We were so scared of getting caught we only watched one sleigh ride. That was enough for us and our curiosity. We all agreed it was not worth the danger. We reversed our trail and headed back to camp.
We managed to get back undetected, we thought. Next morning we were told to report to our scout leader, John Cavett. He asked where we had disappeared to during the middle of the night. We confessed our escape but blamed it on our hormonal imbalance.
Mr. Cavett didn’t buy our excuse. He suggested we would have to bring our parents back with us to the next troop meeting and explain to them what we had done. That scared us more than anything. How do you explain to your mother that her good little boy had been caught ogling sleigh riding Swedish girls without tops? We learned a valuable lesson that evening. Our scout leader was responsible for our well-being. We betrayed his trust and we paid the price.
Mr. Cavett was a super guy, a great scout leader who we liked very much. We let him down that evening. I also think it helped us realize as growing young men we must be in control of our emotions and not the other way around.
When we all turned 15 we joined the Explorer Sea Scouts and re-conditioned a catamaran sailboat and were back in the good graces of scouting.
We even learned how to visit the Family Drive-In movie correctly when we got our driver’s licenses. We paid real money, took a date and sometimes even watched a good movie but that all depended on your date.