In 1969, when I was 12 years old, I joined the Boy Scouts. The first time I went on a hike and overnight camp, I was so impressed that I felt compelled to share news of the event with the world. I used a piece of yellow lined paper that was supposed to be for a 7th grade French assignment and instead printed in longhand the 149-word story below. I dropped it in the mail to the local weekly newspaper, the Billerica News, owned and operated by Stanley J. Bocko – who also happened to be the local Democratic State Representative – and they printed it in their next issue, during the first week in December. I didn't think to include a by-line. The adult leaders were puzzled about where the article originated until I fessed up.
I still have the clipping, and so in commemoration of the start of my career as a published writer – and thanks to the modern miracle of optical character recognition software – I bring you the tale from 42 years ago:
Troop 50 goes hiking
On November 28, Troop 50, which is sponsored by the First Congregational Church, on Andover Road, held its annual November Hike This year it was held in Buddy style, scouts being assigned to partners, and hiking in two's. The route began at the First Congregational Church, wound around Farmers Lane, ascended up Fox Hill, and went down to the gravel pits off Pond St. Once there, the partners set up separate camps, using large sheets of plastic for shelter.
All cooking was done without utensils, meaning no pots, pans, knives, forks, etc. At first it seemed hard, but the newer scouts soon got the knack of it.
After eating breakfast Saturday morning, the scouts broke camp, some hiking back to their homes, others leaving in cars. The trip was well enjoyed by the 20 plus scouts who attended, and they are looking forward to the same trip next year.