Mike Walton (blackeagle)


By: Posted On: 2019-08-19

 coffee house

(This was written and shared with the Scouts-L youth programs discussion list in March of 2001. In looking for content for a new book of short stories this evening, I found and thought I would share this with everyone.  Diabetes has taken a massive hit on my caffeine consumption, and I currently drink an average of a pot of coffee (that’s 12 cups) a day now.  Very seldom do I drink a sugar-flavored cup or mug of coffee, and when I do, it is natural sugar, not one of the various substitutes.)

For the record, I drink Folgers in a Braun 14 cup coffeemaker, with Melita #4 coffee filters. Both Braun and Melita are German companies, and I found something that I wanted to share with everyone but didn't have the topic time to do it.

When I attended InterCamp in 1984, I visited a British Troop from the host city, Lahr. The Scoutmaster was having his morning coffee and invited me (actually, he saw my brown merimite coffee mug (I have to find another one of those!!) and asked me if I wanted it filled....do I sound like a fool? *heheheehee*).

He told me to place my mug on the table. He then took out this plastic thing which looks like the top part of my coffeemaker, placed a filter inside it, and added three tablespoons of coffee.  He then went over to the fire, picked up the coffeepot with a set of mitts, and brought it over to the cup.  He then poured the hot water through the plastic "cup" with the filter in it, into my mug.

Once the water has left the filter and the coffee grounds, he then removed the holder and threw the grounds and filter into a garbage bag. 

"Where did you get this?? This is just GREAT!” I told the Scouter.  He explained that he did not want Scouts to get into the habit of bringing tins of coffee to camp, so he as Scoutmaster would control who would get coffee. He found this "filter for one cup" at a German coffee store (I've seen them at US coffee shops that sell Braun coffeemakers since the item is made by Braun) and has used it since.   He also says that it makes a tin of coffee go a long way because you "drink as you go," instead of making a large pot and wasting half or three-quarters of it because everyone only wanted "one cup."

I bought one, but when Andrew (my oldest son) was growing up, he used it outside to learn how to sift sand.   It did an excellent job of it, too, so I let him keep it, and I never bought a replacement one.  I guess that now that all three are out of "sand stage," I'm safe for a while to get another one.

So, for those Scouters that feel that John is correct in asserting that perhaps we SHOULD take a look at what we are promoting on campouts, this MIGHT be a way to control it.

And this all started with John Pannell:

We teach the Scouts to avoid things that are harmful to our bodies. Caffeine is a physically addictive drug. B-P wrote that coffee should be avoided on camps.  Beside its addictiveness, coffee and caffeine have other effects on the body in significant quantities.

As a person that drinks two POTS (that's 28 cups for those counting!!) a DAY, I can tell you that coffee is indeed very addictive. I have tried to go without coffee for significant periods of time.  I get nauseated, I sweat.  My hands and sometimes, my legs have shook.  I find it hard to concentrate on even simple tasks because my head is pounding as if someone used it as a war drum.  I went nine days once without coffee, attempting to use Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC, Mountain Dew and even Kick and something called "Ski" (all with high caffeine content) instead.  It didn't work.  NOTHING tastes smells and goes down like COFFEE.

As a general rule, we do not allow children to drink it. We are to lead by example.

My mother allowed me to drink coffee when I was only nine years old. I guess in part, that's the reason why I was never attracted to other drugs or alcohol during my "formative" years growing up.  They were there, in my community, but somehow while everyone was huffing and puffing and taking pills and doing six-packs, I was just content with a pot of coffee -- and Scouting.

I have NOT lived a pious life, but to me, a cold beer is NOT the same thing as a cold (or warm) cup/mug/glass/container of coffee.  A mixed drink is not the same as hazelnut blend coffee with Pet {tm} milk and REAL sugar! I discouraged my kids, starting with my daughter, who was the most curious. But I understand that my youngest son Aaron has taken to drinking coffee while living with his mother.   I have also discouraged my Scouts from drinking coffee during campouts, but it’s VERY HARD to enforce that policy when every time you see me, it’s with a mug of coffee in hand or nearby.

Therefore, why do we allow the consumption of coffee on campouts?

I think John, it's a combination of having something familiar to us as adults when we awake in the morning, something that we can use as an "icebreaker" to socialize (I don't know how many times I've visited other campsites under the "pretense" of asking if they have any coffee...it's one of those "secret passwords" we as Scouters have used to identify ourselves to each other....<grunting> REAL SCOUTERS DRINK COFFEE!! </grunting>). Coffee is also something that is ALMOST universally used as a "gathering point," as in during the evening Cracker barrels at camp or after an OA ceremony (or after a rather successful Troop meeting in which you didn't have to repair or replace ANYTHING!!). *heehehehehee*

Rex Goode brought up something I always wanted to know: 

As a Mormon, I don't drink coffee, but I wouldn't dream of banning its use by non-Mormons on Scout property.

I made the rounds one morning and stopped by a campsite "bumming" a cup of coffee. The Scouter that responded told me that "we don't drink caffeine here," and after I apologized, I went onward.  This begs the question for our Mormon and other Scouter friends whose religious beliefs exclude the use of coffee, tea and chocolate (two of the four "Mike Walton" food groups represented there....*smiling*) :

>What warm beverage IS acceptable as a "universal drink"? Cocoa and hot chocolate (and their imitators) are out.  So is tea and coffee.  What else is there?

...and of course, there HAS to be someone that thinks, as Lisa Varner wrote: 

Why not eliminate that coffee altogether?

Get rid of coffee?? What??  Let's get rid of automobiles!!  We don't need them...give every family a Greyhound/Trailways AmeriPass, a set of bicycles and matching helmets and gloves (which, like seat belts in cars, people won't wear them because "it makes me look goofy" or "it's uncomfortable". As demonstrated here, they DO SAVE LIVES) !!

I was really relieved when Jim Sheckles responded and continued my train of thought... 

I shudder to think, Cannot think.  Eliminate coffee!!  Getting the jerks, withdrawal, thinking...about it.  Lightheaded.  Dizzy. Nausea. Eliminate....coffee!!

Ain't there a law about that kind of talk....slander? Libel? 

This person needs help FAST!!! ;-) 

We'll work on Lisa, Jim!! Thanks for supporting the "pro-coffee side"!! *laughter*

W.W. Mitchell also wrote:

If there isn't a law, there should be. I am willing to endure almost anything on a campout - BUT NOT NO COFFEE!

To me, coffee makes  bearable. During the (First) Gulf War, I would sit in the "boxcar" (a signal shelter, while it had a/c, was STILL quite hot inside), installing software and cards into computers, connecting them and ensuring that they worked. Boring work.  The only thing to keep the day going was the friendly coffeepot over in the rear center of the van.  Between that, and my visits to Mr. Potty, I didn't care if the war went on for another month.

After boring briefings on the U.S. side of the "great pond," I was more than ready for a Styrofoam cup of coffee if nothing else but to let the stinging liquid wake me up. Of course, as I stated earlier, that "let's go and have coffee" line worked wonders, as I used it to get to know the people in my unit, even though many of them didn't drink coffee while we discussed various things.

Coffee has been one of those American things, to go back to what John Pennell stated from B-P, that we just do here. Coffee contains a drug, says our Food & Drug Administration, but we seem to place it on or near the same status as what we used to say about cigarettes and cigars:  It's harmful, but as long as you're the only person being harmed, go ahead.  The difference is that while cigarettes and cigars can and have harmed others with their smoke, coffee only does harm to those ingesting it.

Scouts (and others) have asked me why I drink coffee. I drink it because I enjoy the flavor and taste of the coffee.  I enjoy having a cup or mug with my meals, but I'm not at the point whereby I HAVE to have it first thing in the morning (close, but I'm not there yet).  I also enjoy the smell of coffee, before it's brewed and while it's being brewed.  I love going into coffee shops that sell coffee by the pound, not because I can drink coffee there all day long without being chastised, but because of the various aromas circulating in the room.  I will drink coffee cold, without sugar and milk or cream, and will drink decaffeinated coffee if I have to.   I'm not a true coffee fan, because there are some of those "flavored coffees" that I won't drink; and  I think that General Foods think that "Americans will drink anything" with that international "instant coffee in a can" junk !!

Flavored water!!! Yuck!

Pat Hamilton and I had the same idea around the same time:

In either 1971 or 1972, while I was in college, I wrote a letter to the Maxwell House Company and asked them why couldn't they make coffee bags that worked in a similar manner to tea bags. I never heard back from them...  So much for my shot at the big bucks!

In 1973, I wrote to the American Coffee Company, asking if they were interested in an idea I had. I told them that one of the parts about drinking coffee I hated was the removal and throwing away of the coffee grounds.  I thought that if you placed the grounds into a disposable bag, and placed this bag into the pot, the water would pour through the grounds and afterward, you throw the bag away.   I never heard anything back from them, but a short time after that I was in the Post Commissary doing shopping with my mom, and saw something called "Brim."  It was made I think by General Foods (which bought American Coffee) and featured small packets which had filter and coffee in one.  You placed the packet into the pot where you would normally place the coffee by itself, brew, and then remove and throw away the packet.

It never caught on, and while we bought it for a while, my mother went back to the old “yucko” Maxwell House.

Coffee is a part of living in America as tea would be living under the British Crown. As a Scouter, I do have a responsibility in sharing with my Scouts and fellow Scouters that caffeine, in tablet or liquid form, is a drug and can be addictive.  For me, I can't tell any significant things that coffee does to me...it doesn't make my heart race.  I can go to sleep easily at night, and my digestive system is the same as it was when I was younger.  The ABSENCE of coffee, I can tell my Scouts and Scouters, is VERY harrowing for me, and makes me much closer to being a Bear than a Beaver.

(Wood Badge reference there for those who didn’t catch it)

I am glad, however, that the BSA doesn't make us coffee drinkers stop...and that there are no plans to modify an already hard-to-enforce-equitably policy (I'm speaking of the smoking policies here) with an additional policy covering caffeine.

What would we drink in substitute?? Would the Rockwell picture of The Scoutmaster be touched-up to remove the coffeepot on the cooling coals?

Would the coffeepot be removed from the Trail Chef cook kits?

Would we have to drink during breaks at Roundtables *gasp* Kool-Aid?




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