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the dishes—they were in a hurry to leave,” Maheu says. “So they’re scrub- bing everything real good today. And the Scouts decided on a new plan. At the first troop meeting after a campout, they’ll clean all the dishes.” That way they can leave quickly

on the final morning and wait to scrub everything when they have easy access to sinks and hot water. Also, the Scouts—not some unlucky dad who stores the gear in his garage—take responsibility for the cleanup. “Scouts need to make mistakes out here,” Maheu says, aiming his weathered hand toward the sandy, sun-streaked camp at the national park’s Stovepipe Wells site, “so they don’t make as many back home.” He speaks from experience. “If

you bring canned goods and forget the can-opener, that’s only going to happen once. I don’t forget the can- opener anymore, but only because I have forgotten it before.” While Scouts do last month’s

dishes, the adults prepare a gourmet feast. Remember, the troop comes from Berkeley, arguably the foodie capital of California. Arlene


Zuckerberg slices an onion like a pro chef. Lisa Gessow cuts new potatoes effortlessly. A bottle of pure olive oil sits next to a loaf of 12-grain bread. There’s cinnamon challah bread to dip in goat cheese. Delicious, for sure, and because

several of the troop’s Scouts and Scouters are Jewish, the food’s all Kosher. If not for Troop 19’s willing- ness to prepare meals for different religious diets, Gessow wouldn’t be here. “There are several Jewish troops,” she says, “but before Troop 19, I couldn’t find one in Berkeley, so I appreciated how accommodating they are. We almost didn’t join Scouts because we didn’t know if it would be possible.” But this troop seems to make everyone feel welcome.

IF TROOP 19 WAS A ROCK BAND, senior patrol leader Isaiah McCole would be the lead singer. Younger Scouts shower him with attention and a barrage of questions. He wears fashionable sunglasses. He keeps the brim on his Scout cap flat and cocked to the side. But here’s the thing: For the cool kid, Isaiah shatters any notion of cliquish-

ness. He talks to Scouts his age, but he doesn’t shun the younger guys, either. He works at keeping every Scout engaged and happy. That’s especially important for

Scouts such as Caleb Sperry and Elias Spainer, both on their first troop trip. As the Scouts on breakfast duty prepare food, Isaiah jokes with Caleb and Elias, two of the youngest Scouts out here. They form a triangle and toss a football around, engaging in friendly ribbing that goes both ways. “Isaiah, you throw like Tim

Tebow!” Caleb says. “Thank you,” Isaiah replies. “That’s not a compliment.” Nearby, Maheu pays attention. He

sees the exchange as emblematic of one of Scouting’s strengths. “This is one of the few organizations where all ages are mixed, and that’s great,” he says. “In school they’re all the same age. In Little League they’re all the same age. But in Scouting, they get that unique mix of ages that really teaches them and helps them grow. I encourage that.” What Maheu means is that unlike some troops, Troop 19 doesn’t form

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