I got a good laugh the other day. I was driving down Park Street toward the Park Street Grille intersection, following a truck which carried a bumper sticker that read “Vinalhaven – Where a little off is right on.”

Always knew there was something I liked about Vinalhaven!

I have been to this particular island several times in the past 30 years. Once, we took our two small boys over there on the ferry, and had lunch at the park on the shore near the ferry terminal.

This was in the days when we could not afford to go away for a traditional summer vacation, and decided to pretend we were tourists at home instead. I have since heard this described as a staycation, and we found a way to enjoy ourselves doing stuff like this for about a week.

Another trip over there was in much colder weather, when I was part of a team that trained local Cub Scout leaders on behalf of Pine Tree Council. At the time, I was Cubmaster for the Rockland Cubs, Pack 206 (I think — I still have my shirt with the Pack number stitched to one shoulder, but obviously, I am too lazy to dig it out it and check.)

The Pack was based at Rockland Congregational Church. Our district training team included people from as far away as Topsham, and we went over on the boat to help several parent volunteers on the island prepare for the life of Den leaders.

The Boy Scouts of America organization has come in for some hard times since those days. One night within the last year, I watched TV station broadcast ads every five minutes from lawyers seeking to be hired by clients who were abused when they were Scouts, as apparently there was a lot of money to be had, and news about class-action lawsuits attracts a certain kind of lawyer the way bait in the water attracts lobsters.

Apparently, the Rockland Pack is no longer functioning. All I could find on the Pine Tree Council website was a reference to two Packs still operating in Knox County, in Warren and Camden.

Cub Scouting was a lot of work and often a lot of fun. It helped establish friendships with a number of other parents I would otherwise probably not have met, as this Pack also took families from the other School Administrative District 5 towns of Owls Head and South Thomaston, if memory serves. How soon we forget!

I got into it the usual way. My older boy, whose grandfather was a retired BSA professional, wanted to join, so I took the lad along to the recruitment night one September, and before I knew what happened, an application to be an adult leader was thrust most cunningly into my hands. There was no backing out.

My uniform shirt (see above) was never quite legitimate. Instead of splashing out bucks for the official adult shirt, I just got hold of a Dickies work shirt and stitched my badges and patches to that. It was a couple of years before a leader from another Pack, down in Harpswell, discovered my ruse. I think I eventually broke down and bought a real one, which had epaulettes to which I could attach my blue tabs.

We knew we had a lot of families in the Pack who were not that well off, yet I was determined that no boy would have to go without at least a uniform shirt to wear at Pack and Den meetings. I used to browse the racks at Goodwill when it was in the plaza down next to Shaw’s, searching for Cub Scout shirts and related items, which I bought for bargain prices and sold to parents for even less. I think we charged them a dollar per shirt, so they could share the dignity of actually buying it.

All in all, everyone seemed to have a good time at our monthly Pack meetings, and when I was elevated to the dizzying heights as Cubmaster after Bill Benner retired, I did manage to pull off a few good ideas.

There was one thing that used to irritate me no end. Each spring, the boys and their parents would build official Pinewood Derby cars, little wooden things on wheels we would then race on a track we stored at the Congregational Church.

The idea was to produce a few top racers who would go to the annual Council Pinewood Derby races, a process normally achieved by the standard method of eliminating boys whose cars lost in each heat.

This tended to produce increasing numbers of boys and parents who were no longer involved and instead had to hang around the church hall for ages, waiting for the winners to be determined. All that effort and yet so little involvement, is how I saw it.

I asked the Pack committee to agree to new rules. Each boy could race his car as often as he cared to, and would accumulate stickers that we stuck underneath the cars to show how many first, second and third places each car achieved.

When we all had enough and decided to call it a day, we simply counted up the number of stickers showing first place wins on each car, and the three top first-placers were declared our Pack winners. At least it kept all the boys engaged through the entire event, rather than kicking them out altogether.

Perhaps our greatest triumph was a Council-wide summer overnight family camp we organized at the playing field on Thomaston Street, marred only by the fact that our Cubmaster could not get a wink of sleep in his borrowed tent, and instead climbed over the fence to go home and sleep in his own bed.

We had a lot of cooperation from the school district and the Coast Guard that weekend. Somehow, we got it into our heads that we wanted to show off Rockland a little bit to the Cubs and their families from other parts of the Council. The idea came to reality when we managed to organize a tour of a Coast Guard ship down at the base on Tillson Avenue.

The school district provided school buses free of charge, simply because we told them many of the families coming to camp were from their three constituent communities. We could never have afforded to rent the buses, so this was a great boost. I suppose we were paying for the buses via our taxes, but I will not forget how easy the school office made it for us.

Nor will I forget the help provided by Tom Woodman, a parent from the South End and former Coastie who had contacts down at the Tillson Avenue base. He organized the whole operation as far as the ship tours were concerned, got the right people involved and worked with the ship’s crew and the base, and it went off like a charm.

It taught me one heck of a lesson in delegating tasks to people who are totally capable of handling them, and also introduced me to the concept of working with veterans. We had other vet parents in the Pack over the years, and I can’t forget how utterly reliable they were when asked to take care of something as part of a larger project.

In fact, where I work today, at the Maine Department of Labor, we have a team of vets who seem to be able to make anything happen.

For example, it is not currently possible for us to stage good old fashioned job fairs, where hundreds of jobseekers wander around dozens of tables set up by employers looking to hire. We’ve been involved in several of these fairs here in Rockland, the past few years, except this year. Of course. Yet our vet team has figured a way to hold virtual job fairs instead, organizing everything online so smoothly and efficiently it’s almost scary.

I guess it’s their training, the idea that completing a task well by working together without any fuss is more important than any individual member of a team.

There’s no need to claim vets are more than they are. There’s a whole section of the Maine State Prison in Warren that is set up to house veterans exclusively, for example. Even their guards are vets. Yet when I visited them a couple of years ago through my work, I could still detect a certain something present in the atmosphere there, even if it was simply the vet inmates and guards had not given up on each other.

Monday this week was Pearl Harbor Day. I did not intend to end up writing about veterans this week, but you can probably see how I got there.

My time with the Rockland Cubs taught me a lot about how people can get things done when they work together thoughtfully, whether they are vets or not, and certainly regardless of their politics. How much things seem to be diminished today, when I think back to my time with of a bunch of Rockland-area parents back in the 90s who simply agreed to do their best for their boys, the community of youngsters who are now the not-so-very-young adults all around us.

We blundered, we bumbled, we still got things done. It sure didn’t hurt that we happened to have a few good vets sprinkled among our numbers.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.