THERE WASN’T anything “best” about it. Not anything even remotely good, at least at the time. It was cold. It was ungodly early. I was wearing a trash bag as a poncho. I’d almost stepped on a dead armadillo. We, Troop 201, were on a sunrise hike at Camp Noark, the Girl Scout camp outside of Huntsville, and there was no sun to rise. We had ziplock baggies of GORP for breakfast as we sat huddled on a cloud-smothered hilltop. We looked like a heap of California Raisins, clad as we were in those damn trash bags. It was miserable.
It would also become one of my most favorite stories to tell.
It’s funny that we landed on scouting as our theme for this year’s “Best Of”—our fifth feature bearing the name—because when we rehashed our scouting memories here at the Arkansas Life offices, there were plenty of groans and eye rolls. Platform tents. Mess hall sing-a-longs. Poison ivy. Latrine duty. We’d all been exposed to scouting in some way, whether we grew up here in Arkansas or farther afield, and as much as we loathed it, we loved it. Some of our best summer memories involved “that one time at scout camp.” And what is summer, if not for making memories?
In that spirit, it seemed appropriate. Our “Best Of” feature is a bear to work on, patched together from this tidbit here and that story idea there and everything in between. (It’s the pinewood derby of Arkansas Life stories, you could say.) But it’s chock-full of fodder for making the most of what’s left of summer, whether you’re up for earning your I Trekked All the Way to Monticello for Thai Food Badge or a star for tackling the trails up on Fitzgerald Mountain. It’s also an opportunity to shine a light on the do-gooders who’ve upheld their part of the scout promise this year—who’ve “done a good turn” and pledged to “help other people at all times.”
And for those of us who haven’t? Well, that’s what latrine duty’s for.