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©1990 Christopher Nyerges
| PIERRE LANDRY: A Committed
Local Scout Leader with over Three Decades of Experience.
Standing next to the stream with a small circle of students around him, Pierre Landry demonstrated several of the most essential knots that every camper should know. Each student was given a cord and they tried to follow Landry's lead. It looked easy when Landry did it, but then he's been involved with Scouting and outdoor skills for over 30 years. Tying knots is second nature to him.
Landry joined the Cub Scouts in Rhode Island when he was eight years old. By age 14, he began to work summers at Camp Yawgoog (named after an Indian chief) in Rhode Island. He started out as a bugler, and by age 20 he was the assistant camp director.
During his fourth and fifth summers at Camp Yawgoog, Landry lived in a small cabin about a mile away from the main camp, with no electricity or running water. "I used an outhouse, I cooked on a wood stove, and I had to walk about 300 yards to get my water," Landry explains.
At Camp Yawgoog, small groups of the scout campers would go on "feature hikes" throughout the day. These would be hikes to outlying locations where the scouts would learn such things as pioneering, archery, and other skills. Landry's little cabin was the destination for one of these feature hikes where Landry would instruct scouts in the intricacies of dutch oven cookery. A dutch oven is a cast iron pot which sits directly in the coals of the campfire. The dutch oven has three small legs, and its lid has a rim so it can hold coals.
"On some days, I would have three groups of scouts. I'd show one group how to cook lunch, then I'd show the next group how to cook a pie for an afternoon snack, and then I'd show a third group how to cook dinner. I could actually feed up to 8 boys out of my 10 inch dutch oven."
"At night, I used to sit by the candlelight in my cabin and write poetry to my girlfriend in New Hampshire," says Landry. "It was a very wonderful and inspiring time."
Landry noted that most of the staff of the camp were school teachers, and so there were always intellectually-stimulating conversations. "They had a high quality staff at the camp, and these people were one of the major features of that camp," says Landry. "Recall that I was there between 1965 and 1969, and there were lots of guitars around the campfire at night with folk songs and political songs. The pay was low -- I earned only room and board my first summer, and only $100 for all of my second summer. So people were involved because they were committed and idealistic. Those summers of scouting were very significant in shaping my character."
With his bushy beard and characteristic scout hat, Landry appears as a cross between Jeremiah Johnson and Grizzly Adams. On weekends and weeknights, his devotion to scouting continues at the Boy Scout headquarters on Grandview Avenue in Glendale where Landry trains new scout leaders. By day, he works for the Southern California Edison company in the department which deals with conservation programs.
Landry has extensive experience in numerous outdoor skills, and he utilizes all these experiences when he is conducting scout outings and while at the Boy Scout camp -- Camp Verdugo Oaks north of Castaic. Landry is knowledgeable in ropes and knots, in primitive shelter building, in first aid, fire making, in using camping gear, and in the unique skill of making things out of twigs by utilizing a dove-tail notch. "Once you master the dove-tail notch " says Landry, "you'd be surprised what you can construct with only your pocket knife. With fallen branches and twigs as your building material, you can make chairs, tables, shelters, and a lot of useful tools and furniture for around the camp."
But Landry emphasizing that scouting is not just some sort of camping club. "Too many people have the wrong idea about scouting. The scouting experience is a way for young boys to get leadership training. It is a character building experience that should affect the boys positively for the rest of their lives. Scouting provides an opportunity for young boys to practice planning, leadership, and cooperation. Where else can a 13 year old boy get this experience in such a dynamic way?"asks Landry.
Landry is currently the training chairman of the Sunrise District of the Verdugo Hills Council, as well as the Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 188 of Eagle Rock. Though he has regular contact with the boy scouts, he generally spends more time with the new incoming scout leaders. "Scouting is an all-volunteer organization," explains Landry , " and so there are always new volunteers who need training."
Landry relates a potentially dangerous situation that once developed at Camp Verdugo Oaks. Someone at the camp forget to properly dispose of trash, and so a bear wandered into the campground. "We had 40 scouts there and 20 volunteers, so we had to do something. Somehow, I was in charge of getting the bear to get moving out of camp. We got out all of our pans and flashlights and made a lot of noise to scare the bear away. He left, and I was in the front of the group chasing the bear away. The bear went up a tree, and I had to scare him out of the tree to get him even further away from the camp. I soon discovered to my surprise that everyone else who had been behind me was all gone. I was all alone chasing a bear away. Fortunately for me, the bear ran away from the camp and there was no problem.""Don't forget to take
Local Hiking Trails
The CCC Road
The Switzers Area
Garbage: Good Enough to Eat?