Carl J. Thurnau’s favorite memory from his time as a Boy Scout was in 1952, when he traveled to a scout camp in New Mexico.
“We had a period where we actually used burros,” he recalled. “We had like 25 of them, and we had to pack them every morning. I remember distinctly we were going up this big mountain with an ice cold stream with multiple bridges, and the burros will not go on the bridges. So, We had to wade through the ice cold water.”
Recently, he made the journey back to Philmont Scout Ranch this time with his son and grandson to tackle some of the same activities. But back in 1952, Thurnau never received the patch that scouts now receive for accomplishing the trek.
“So, when he went back in 2014 he talked to the camp director of Philmont,” Carl J. Thurnau’s son Carl T. Thurnau said. “Then he talked about the burros, ‘All I remember are those darn burros refuse to go on the bridge,’ and he pulled out a patch and said, ‘They still won’t go on those bridges.’ ”
Carl J. Thurnau, his son Carl T. Thurnau, and his grandson Carl “Jake” Thurnau are not only Boy Scouts, they are also all Eagle Scouts, a feat only 6 percent of scouts accomplish, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must make their way through six preliminary ranks, earn 21 merit badges, demonstrate scouting principles, plan and develop a final Eagle Scout project, actively participate in the troop for at least six months between each rank, and participate in a unit leader conference and board of review.
Carl J. Thurnau said that a total of 10 scouts in their extended family have become Eagle Scouts. To achieve his Eagle Scout, Jake Thurnau helped to restore benches at Jenkins Park in Burnt Hills. He also built new benches and a trail map for the park.
“From the woman that I worked with, she lives right across from the park, she says that she hears compliments on them now and again,” he said.
Carl J. Thurnau said that back in his day, things were a little different, and scouts were not required to complete a project. He became involved in scouts thanks to his father, who also joined as a boy. And from then on, the tradition just kept going.
“It was just a great opportunity because we had trips once a month, and we could go out and do different things, and go to different places,” Carl T. Thurnau said. “I’m still an outdoorsman. For me it was a perfect opportunity to get out there, and continue getting out there and expose my son to things that I like.”
This common thread between the three generations has strengthened their bond, and they go on annual trips together that utilize the skills they have learned through Boy Scouts.
“We’ve done a lot of things together; we go on an annual fishing trip together in Canada; we go deer hunting together,” Carl T. Thurnau said.
“Some of us are more successful than others,” Carl J. Thurnau added. “Me being unsuccessful.”
Although some details have changed a bit since Carl J. and Carl. T were scouts, the fundamentals have remained the same.
“I just think its a great opportunity to teach young boys lots of important skills they may or not need depending on what the future holds,” Carl T. Thurnau said. “I learned a lot and of course with all of the different merit badges, like 120 different merit badges, there’s tons of different things you can use to pique your interest. Of course, with the younger generation now they have robotics, computers. Instead of map and compass now it’s geocaching.”
Carl J. Thurnau jumped in, “New titles, same stuff.”
Reach Gazette reporter Michaela Kilgallen at 395-3040, [email protected] or @michaelakilg on Twitter.