Don’t let the title fool you, this one’s all about the “sand”. They say that things happen in threes. I don’t know who “they” are, but they are wrong. For me, they’ve happened in dozens. The Toilet and The Sand are forever linked in my memory–not because of their similarities, but because of the timing.
In my previous article, I explained the details an the aftermath of the toilet incident. On January 24, 1992, my physical therapist released me from further therapy on my finger. Functionally, the finger still didn’t work, but followup surgery wasn’t worth the recovery for me. So, the only thing left was to rehab the wrist. Six months immobilized in various braces left my left wrist very weak. The wrist wasn’t just weak, it even looked frail. To this day, I really don’t know a good way to rehab the wrist other than using it. Just 15, I refused to be held back.
The therapist released me sometime around 11am that Friday morning. By 5pm Friday night, I was headed to Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana for the “FUN” camping trip. Every year in January, the adult leaders of Troop 244 treated the boys to a fun camping trip. On this trip, the adults did all of the cooking, cleaning, setup and tear down. The boys did everything else–a.k.a. PLAYING! For the entire weekend we enjoyed roaming the winter woods, engaging in snowball fights on the lake, skiing and tobogganing.
Although I fit in to the group of the “boys”, I was the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL). This meant that I was responsible for rest of the campers. I still had my fun mind you, but I was the one responsible for making sure we didn’t lose anyone. If there were any problems in the ranks, they fell to me. I still had my fun mind you, I just had to keep an ever-watchful eye. Despite the work, I still looked forward to the weekend. You see, even though I still had to watch the other campers, it was still less responsibility than a normal campout.
I honestly don’t remember much of that campout, except for the last 2 hours that is. All of the Pokagon trips tend to run together. For me, it was all about the tobogganing and exploring–I wasn’t much of a skier. During the last two hours of the weekend, the boys were getting restless. They didn’t want to wait around and watch the adults clean up and pack down. Who could blame them? The longer we watched, the more likely we’d be asked to work! So, my ASPL (assistant), Shea Sandusky, and I took the boys on a hike.
One of them spied a “large” hill about 1/4 mile from camp, so we went there. The path took us down a ravine, across a semi frozen creek bed and up an embankment to a clearing. Sure enough, there was a 50-foot tall plateau as large as a football field. We soon realized we were climbing a frozen, snow-covered sand dune. More fun! SNOW-SANDBALL fight!
Ready to get home to football, I stood back and watched. (it was Super Bowl Sunday after all) I enjoyed watching until I heard my name. “LET’S GET THE SPL!!” Uh-Oh! The next thing I knew, 15 scouts swarmed me. As far as I can remember, the goal was to tackle me. Fortunately (or unfortnately) for me, I was much larger than most of them. However, when 15 of any beast decides to do something, they usually succeed. I held on for a few minutes, until someone grabbed my ankles and pulled. Before I knew it, I was going down…and trying to break my fall. The only thing I broke though was that same left wrist.
It didn’t hurt all that much, but I knew something was wrong. I pulled off my glove and the wrist was misshapen and the hand was twitching. My fingers also got blue very quickly. The leader of the gang, I wasn’t about to try to calm them for the hike back–why ruin their day too? So, I delegated my authority to Shea and returned through the woods on my own. Only having one working hand made the return trip much more difficult than the first. I arrived at camp only a short time before the rest of the group.
The adult leaders all agreed it was broken and splinted it above my heart to my chest. They all decided that it could wait for the 3-hour trip home. I was ok with that until we got on the road. Before that though, I must tell you about Wally Althaus. On that cold, January day in 1991, Wally,the son of the then scoutmaster, almost lost his life. He did not go with the other group and when he saw me, he had something to say. He walked up to me and slugged me 3 times right on the break.
Before the 3 adults around us could react, I unloaded. Until then, you see, it didn’t hurt all that much–no more than what I had with the finger. But the moment he punched that broken bone, I had pain I had never even imagined. So, I came unhinged. My dad stood there and watched until I landed the 4th blow on poor Wally’s chest, shoulder and neck. Then he decided that Wally got what he deserved and stepped in. When Wally’s dad tried to rebuke me, dad stepped in and told him that if he said another word, HE would get what Wally just had. They took Wally aside and we left for home.
The next 4 hours as it turned out felt like an eternity. That old 1977 Suburban shook with every bump in the road. I nearly cried. Dad was pulling the troop trailer with gear. So, we had to drop the trailer off with the quartermaster. Then we had 3 other boys to drop of. Finally we headed home so we could change quick and then headed to the clinic. I didn’t just break the ulna clean through, I also impacted it. Before casting, the doctor had to pull the bone apart to position it–8 more weeks in a cast.
And so, begins a long string of strange and unfortunate events. 10 weeks later, my church youth group traveled to Denver, Colorado for a missions trip. (A makeup trip for the shortened one the previous July) We skied…I say WE, but I was only allowed down the bunny slope once. I spent the rest of the day watching. No Scott accidents allowed on that trip!
On a side note, the day I got my cast off, my mom made an egregious error. She said: “I’ve NEVER broken a bone in my life, and you’ve already broken 4”. When we returned from Colorado, she was wearing a cast on her right wrist. While we were gone, she fell and broke BOTH bones in that wrist. Lesson learned. Don’t ever say that you’ve NOT done something or NOT had something happen to you. Those things tend to come back on you!