For the past couple of years, I’ve carried a little something extra in my camera bag or backpack. In the case that holds my cameras’ memory cards is a patch with the name “Brennan.”
This name patch was given to me by the adult leadership of Troop 380 from Plano, Texas, in February 2017. I had spent the weekend with the group in Palo Duro Canyon State Park less than a year after they lost a remarkable Scout to a tragic traffic accident.
In talking with his mother and his Scoutmaster, it was obvious Brennan flourished in Scouting. His favorite part was hanging out with the guys and going places. Always ready to try new things, take on new responsibilities and volunteer for different tasks, he thrived being part of the group.
His affable nature and innate leadership qualities quickly led to him being tapped for the Order of the Arrow and being made Senior Patrol Leader for a weekend camporee even at the young age of 12.
His mom told me that “no matter if it was with Scouts or whatever, he wanted to go and do things and to see things.”
In that spirit, I was given his name patch to take on “a few” of my adventures that I am so very fortunate to have as part of my job with the magazines of the Boy Scouts of America.
I’ve carried that patch everywhere ever since.
Brennan’s patch has been with me on assignment in 17 different states for 25 different stories … so far.
With the patch in my bag, I’ve hung out with a very funny and talented professional magician and Eagle Scout in Los Angeles. I’ve been with a crew photographing and interviewing another Eagle Scout and amusement park engineer next to one of his roller coasters 200 feet off the ground in Florida. Brennan’s patch was with me as we interviewed a third Eagle Scout and actor on the set of a popular television show near Hollywood.
Brennan’s patch has gone with me paddling down the Buffalo River in Arkansas, visiting a Harry Potter-themed Blue and Gold event, sailing and kayaking the Great Lakes out of Cole Canoe Base in Michigan, and with Scouts helping a community recover from a devastating hurricane in coastal Texas.
He’s been with me hiking in the Mark Twain National Forest of Missouri and across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, as well as cruising with Sea Scouts in the waters of the San Juan Islands offshore Washington state.
Brennan’s patch has “ventured” to the Summit Bechtel Reserve for VentureFest, through the Atchafalaya Swamp out of Louisiana’s Swamp Base and experienced all kinds of fun and games at the Venturing Fall Fun Rally outside of St. Louis, Mo.
His patch was with me when I caught up with Eagle Scouts bicycling across America in Wyoming and South Dakota, and watching Scoutmasters belly flop at Camp Buffalo Bill just outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Brennan’s patch has even been downhill skiing … in IOWA (!) and traveled through time during a camporee near Lancaster, Pa.
This name patch has been illuminated by campfires along the Point Reyes National Seashore in the spring and outside the City of Rocks of Idaho in the winter. It has seen early morning sunlight high up in the Uinta Mountains of Utah and gazed at the stars over the Pisgah Astronomical Research Center in North Carolina.
When I covered the massive effort of the Greater St. Louis Council’s annual food drive in Missouri, the inspirational one-night campout of the Scout unit based out of South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, and a Winter Powderhorn in North Eastern Pennsylvania that included an evening of adults and youth putting together model airplane kits for disadvantaged kids, Brennan’s patch was in my pocket.
Brennan’s patch has been a witness to the terrific changes within the Boy Scouts of America as I photographed girls in a dynamic Scouts BSA troop learning new skills bringing them closer to First Class rank while camping at Half Moon State Beach in California.
Just as Brennan did and would have continued to do, his patch has been part of the fun, excitement, challenge, service and learning of Scouting.
It has and continues to be a privilege having Brennan along with me.