Pico Blanco Boy Scout Camp

When I was 11 or 12 (1970ish) Boy Scout Troop 159 went to camp in Pico Blanco.  Shit got weird.

BSA Troop 159 circa 1974. Different Scoutmaster.

We set up our Army issue pup tents and spent the day hiking, playing capture the flag, tying knots and other Boy Scout shit.  After dinner and a hearty sing along at the campfire we settled in to sleep.  We were briefed that Pico Blanco had not one but two herds of wild pigs in residence.  We were warned not to keep food in our tents lest a pig comes in a roots around.  Trash cans were rigged to be pulled up off the ground to be “pig proof”.


In the middle of the night, I woke up.  I could hear the trash cans being knocked around.  “PIGS!”, I thought.  I could hear grunting and growling.  After a few minutes that seemed like hours, I could hear one shuffling to the tent.  I tried to wake up my tent mate, but he kept sleeping.  I grabbed my sheaf knife and my army issue mess kit knife and waited.  I peeked out of the gap at the bottom of the tent.  My view was then filled with fur.  It stank to High Heaven.  I laid there terrified until I finally fell asleep.  

Our Scoutmaster was an asshole.  Twenty-something he always bragged about his time in the Army.  He’d go on about all the things he’d seen and done.  Like sledding down the Matterhorn on a truck tire.  The ultimate Macho Man, he refused a tent and decided to sleep in a burnt out tree.  

The next morning I was awakened by a clamor.  Everyone was shouting.  There was our fearless Scoutmaster, bare chested.  He was standing with his arms crossed and had a huge black, blue and purple bruise that covered his whole shoulder.  He refused to answer questions, in fact he refused to talk at all.  Apparently, he woke up to investigate the noises.  He was armed with a revolver.  It was cold and he’d crossed his arms for warmth.

Something?  Startled him and he had pulled the trigger.  The pistol did not go off, but the hammer pinched his underarm.  He had stood there all night, afraid to move lest he shoot himself. Afraid to move at all.  We eventually, safely removed the pistol from his hand and underarm.  He quit the Boy Scouts the next day.


Years later and learned about Bigfoot.  Over the years, I’ve never connected Sasquatch to this story.  All I heard were sounds.  All I saw was fur.  We had a pig farm in our town and it kinda smelled like that.  Bad.

This is Pico Blanco today.


What do you think?


How to Really Protect Our Schools

In 1975, New York state alone had over 80. In 1984, there were only 65 nationwide.  By 1999 there were only 26.  What were they? Shooting clubs at schools.

In 2007, a Wisconsin mother was appalled to discover a shooting range in the basement of her child’s school.  Although unused for years, she sued the school district to “re-purpose” the area.  She won.

Before the national  implementation of the “Zero Tolerance Gun Policy”in 1989, shootings at schools usually had one or two victims. Most of them from accidents.    For decades, there were none at all.  This is weird because the kids were packing.  High Schools had rifle teams and shooting clubs.  Student routinely toted them around campus.  In many cases they were stored in the gym.  Not for safety, but because they were heavy to lug around.  Up until the ’70s, especially in rural areas, it was commonplace to see kids entering and leaving their school campuses with rifle bags slung lazily over their backs. Guns were left in school lockers, and rifles and shotguns were routinely seen in high-school parking lots, hanging in the rear windows of pickup trucks.

Setting aside his BB gun at the age of 10 or twelve.  It was a right of passage for a youngster to get his first rifle.  Gun safety and shooting skills were past from father to son ( and more often than you think, daughter).

   I got a BB gun for my 10th birthday.  At 12, I held a real weapon for the first time.  It was at Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Pico Blanco, California.  I was going for the Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badge..  Our instructor was a serving Army NCO and was assisted by a PFC.  In Air Force basic training I realized that I had received the same marksmanship course in summer camp.  In Basic Training it was with the M-16.  In the Boy Scouts it was with the 22 caliber semi-automatic.The shotgun was a 410.

BSA Rifle-Range-1977. This wasn’t me, but our range looked identical.



Click to enlarge. Where have these values gone?

Some have called for armed guards in schools or maybe pistol packing teachers.  How about arming the children again?  Not only with weapons, but arming them with respect of firearms.  Safety engrained into them.  Full knowledge that they hold Life and Death in their hands and not some fairy tale notion that video games give them now.

I took my boys to the range when they were ten and eight.  My daughter starting shooting at seven.  Every time I hand her a loaded pistol we have a ceremony. I hold out the weapon and ask The Question.  “What is this?” Before she is allowed to take it in hand she must answer, “This is Life and Death in my hands.”  She is well drilled on safety.

  • Always treat a weapon as if it is loaded.
  • Always point it in a safe direction.
  • Release the safety only when ready to shoot.
  • Always check to see if the chamber is clear when receiving a weapon or handing to another person.

Her aim is pretty good and she will soon be learning the “Double Tap”. She also is taught, when threatened, to scream “I FEAR FOR MY LIFE!!” and then empty the magazine.