Lego Scouter and Sweetie by Mike Walton
(Throughout this entry, I refer to the small plastic building pieces trademarked and called "Lego®." I don't place the registered trademark symbol anytime except now, but the word and the pieces themselves are registered to the Lego Corporation, with no attempt to infringe on their trademark.)
I love Lego. If you ever want to give me a present for any occasion (my birthday is next week, for instance), there are four things which will make me absolutely happy:
Money (who would not appreciate it, right?)
Coffee (any flavor, roasted, whole bean, ground or instant)
Chocolate (well, I am not supposed to have a lot of it anymore, but you know...)
My love affair with the small plastic bricks started early. In Germany, I was babysitting a neighbor's young child (I was nine, he was five) and he had a large plastic tub which contained all kinds of bricks, bases, gears, motors -- in short, it was as if someone just emptied out all kinds of boxes of those things into this tub. We spent hours just building, playing, tearing down, and rebuilding various things. Paul-Paul and I forgot about time, television, even bedtime, and spent the entire time simply talking, building, and talking Lego. Our imaginations spun into high gear, and I was more disappointed when his parents returned than Paul-Paul was in having me to leave and go back across the street and up the stairs to my family's apartment.
I babysat him for no money. I explained to Paul's parents that it was great that I get to come over and play while supervising him. It was not a Good Turn; it was something I truly enjoyed doing as a kid myself.
When Paul-Paul's dad ended his assignment and rotated back to the States, he left me and my brother half of the tub containing Paul's Lego bricks and accessories. I kept those blocks throughout my life -- I still have some of them assembled as various objects kept in my office room in Minnesota and here in Tennessee. Over the decades, they have been supplemented with additional pieces until I left to go to Dubai during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. I donated all of my loose Lego pieces to the daycare center at Eastern Kentucky University, where I left from to go help fight the war.
I restarted my Lego collection after the divorce of the first wife, upon my return from overseas and work at the Pentagon. It was a personal comfort and took my mind away from things for a short bit. Over time, and with gifts from several friends, including the one who would become the second Mrs. Walton, I amassed a good collection of pieces. I made homes and cars, and when I found small-sized Lego people, I created things for them to play and recreate with as well.
I have been to Legolands all over the nation and in several places in Europe. I shared my love of the small plastic brick with close friends, who look at me and say, "you're grinning like a little boy...is this where you get your youthfulness from?" I have to admit -- next to Scouting, Lego for me is the "big deal."
People - kids especially - love to come into our office area when I was the Regional Public Affairs Officer. Before that, when I was the "senior civilian public affairs person," and before that, when I was the community relations officer for our regional Army command. My boss had Army things in the office. Our videographer had the entire Marvel and DC Universe in figurines, posters, and toys. Our Active/Guard Reserve officer had sports figurines and Green Bay items (our command is headquartered in Vikings country, but you know, I think she has a crush on Brett Farve and the Cheeseheads...er...Packers *smiling*).
I had Lego.
Because in part of our creative natures -- and the fact that we as a team as well as individuals knew our craft, our territory, and our commanders -- we kicked butt as an office. Trophies, certificates, and "invitations" to do public affairs work literally worldwide were awarded to us. Anymore I feel that the reason why we were so great as a team is because of our supervisor's (including me, when it was my turn to be the "boss") willingness to let our imaginations go in creating new ways to share the Army story with those living and working in our region -- the upper Midwest. It worked. We were Army "rock stars."
When I started work here in Tennessee, I brought with me and began work on a new Lego project: a slice of a campsite, with a shark and gator-infested lake; a bike trail; and a campsite with Lego Scouts and Scouters enjoying the outdoors. It's still a work in progress, and when days like this are slow-going, I spend time adding to or revising the "desktop diorama."
My workmate, our STEM program manager, has Lego robots in his cube and demonstrates them as part of the Lego League STEM education program, our base supports, and sponsors.
When I attended the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, I saw a set of Lego Scouts patches, and I started on my quest to get a set of the six patches. Each local BSA Council developed a set of patches for their official contingency to the Jamboree. The San Diego - Imperial Council in California obtained permission from the Lego Corporation to use their brick "people" in designs showing some of the great things. Scouts and Scouters would be able to do at the new Summit Bechtel Reservation, the home to the National Scout Jamboree. The patches were actually worn by their four Troops attending the Jamboree and by staff members to the Jamboree from that Council. The larger patch was designed to be worn on the back of a jacket or jac-shirt. Most Scouts bought and kept a set for themselves to save and trade with other Scouts.
The patches were a hit...and as a result, the Lego Scouts set of patches (shown below) are really hard to come by -- and very valuable items to have. I just have a framed image.
(The fella in the center is Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Lego Scouts (*smiling*) )
My takeaways from all of this playing with toy plastic pieces, letting my imagination run free as I sat and build things? Here they are, in no particular order:
doing anything you love doing will show; it will show in how you do things, the time spent, and the exactness of the task
never be satisfied with doing things "the way the instructions say." There are other ways to do things, and sometimes those are not listed nor even considered
it is YOUR creation. Therefore you must not only design, plan, and build it but you must also "market and sell" the value of it to others. Do your best
Share what you did, how you did, and why with others. They may some fake not being interested, but your pride and enthusiasm will make them consider it for themselves
Don't brag. As simple as it is to build something, it can take an equal amount of effort to have it all come crashing down around you. When it does, sit back, think about it, correct your flaws and mistakes, and make something bigger or better. Or different
You can force the pieces. You can take a saw and cut them apart. It is much better to find the piece you want, work with it, and use that piece to create something wonderful.
Stop along the way, and reflect upon how simply wonderful your mind can actually create something. Share that feeling with someone. Then get back to work.
I love Lego. Along with writing, listening, reading, making road maps, talking, and traveling, it too is a part of who I am. Combine that with Scouting, and it's ability to transform young youth into strong quality citizens of character, and it's a winner!