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From the Archives: My Love Letter to Boy Scouts

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 22, 2010

This story, previously published in the Salt Lake Tribune and at Times & Seasons, is revived tonight as a sort of memorial to Corey Buxton, a Las Vegas Boy Scout who died yesterday while hiking in Zion National Park. Because it is a tribute, I would appreciate having any comments focus on the good things that can and have come from Scouting, while avoiding the usual Bloggernacle discussion of why the church should or should not sever its ties with BSA. Thanks.

Utah’s Boy Scouts have had a rough couple of years with forest fires, massive searches for lost Scouts, and the untimely deaths of beloved sons. Although recent tolls have been heavy, the rewards, over time, have been priceless.

Tessie Dalebout turned six in the spring of 1912. On May Day of that year, as the curly-haired child skipped along the banks of Parley’s Creek in Salt Lake City, she lost her footing and slipped into the turbulent waters.

The stream, swollen by melting snow, caught the tiny girl and tumbled her end over end. She was carried for nearly a block, passing under two bridges before some men who had seen her fall were able to catch her. They pulled her out and laid her on the bank. A crowd gathered around the still form.

Noticing the commotion, 15-year-old Louis Rosenlund ran to see what was happening. He saw that rescuers were using the old-fashioned technique of pumping Tessie’s arms and legs in a vain attempt to restore breathing. Young Louis immediately took over from the adults.

He turned Tessie on her stomach and positioned her arms under her forehead to raise her nose and mouth off the ground. Then he knelt astride the child’s hips, placing both hands on the small of her back. With a gently increasing pressure, he leaned into Tessie, pushing slowly, steadily upward to compress her abdomen and lower chest. Water gushed from her mouth.

Then Louis suddenly relaxed his pressure, and the natural elasticity of Tessie’s body caused her chest to expand and air to fill her lungs.

Again and again and again, Louis applied firm pressure, forcing the breath out of Tessie’s lungs, then relaxing his arms to allow fresh air to rush in. It took nearly 15 minutes, but finally Tessie began to breathe on her own. She was carried home to her grateful parents before any doctor arrived on the scene.

It turns out that Louis Rosenlund was a patrol leader in the Waterloo Ward MIA Scouts. On a recent Tuesday evening, Louis and his friends had learned the relatively new Schaefer method of artificial respiration. While not as sophisticated as today’s mouth-to-mouth breathing, it was light years ahead of the old sailors’ trick of stimulating the lungs by raising and lowering a victim’s arms.

The Boy Scout movement originated with Lord Robert Baden-Powell in Great Britain in 1909. It was brought to the United States in 1910, and an Episcopal minister organized Utah’s first troop in Logan the same year. Louis Rosenlund’s Waterloo Ward boys formed the first LDS-sponsored troop; organized during the winter of 1911-1912, it competes with the independent group raised by an 18-year-old Scout for honors as the earliest Salt Lake City troop. It’s hard to be absolutely certain, but Louis Rosenlund’s rescue of little Tessie Dalebout is possibly the first case of a Utah life saved by Scout training.

Tessie soon recovered from her near-drowning. She grew up and married. When Tessie Dalebout Harrop passed away in 1971, having lived all her life in Salt Lake City, she was survived by her husband, a son, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. They, and all of Tessie’s descendants born since then, have good reason to thank the preparation that Scouting teaches.

Cool-headed Louis Rosenlund continued to support civic and fraternal organizations as he grew up. He worked as the Salt Lake City sales rep of a Minnesota paper company. The former Scout was never robust, however, and heart disease took him from his wife and two small children in 1931, at age 34.

Our Boy Scouts will cope with the lawsuits and relearn lessons of wilderness safety. We will remember Garrett Bardsley and Paul Ostler. And we will think of countless good turns, communities and lives bettered by Eagle projects, and a noble line of boy heroes reaching back to the earliest days of Scouting in Utah.

(originally published 21 August 2005 in the Salt Lake Tribune, and on 28 July 2007 at Times & Seasons)

For those unfamiliar with their stories, Garrett Bardsley, 11, vanished from a Scout campout in 2004; despite two summers of searching, his body has never been found. Paul Ostler, 15, was struck and killed by lightning while on a 2005 Scouting event.



6 Comments »

  1. Thanks again, Ardis.

    Comment by Coffinberry — July 23, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  2. Congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America 100 years celebration. It is one of the premiere organizations for molding young boys into young men, instilling the timeless values of the Scout Oath and Law. The Church has seen the genius of this program and has wisely adopted it at the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood.

    Like all programs, particular volunteer programs it has its faults and imperfections–but I’ve seen nothing to equal its effectiveness and seen nothing proposed by any of its critics which comes remotely close to shaping the lives of young men as well as adult leaders.

    Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

    Words to live by.

    Timeless Values . . .

    Comment by Guy Murray — July 23, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  3. Scouting — the ideal — is wonderful. I haven’t always been a fan in the past, but I have a Cub Scout in my family and it’s been just a blessing. I still think some of the program needs to join the 21st century in a meaningful way, but it does serve to bring families together.

    Comment by queuno — July 23, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  4. I’ve experienced both the good and the bad of LDS scouting, both as a boy and as a Scoutmaster. The LDS were the first major organization to adopt BSA as their youth program, and it has shaped the lives of countless young men and leaders since then.

    Whenever I feel like one person can’t make a difference, I think of the effect Baden-Powell has had on improving the lives of literally millions of boys, and see that a single individual really can make an impact.

    Comment by Clark — July 23, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  5. My son began Cub Scouts recently. For the first time I’m seeing the Scout program from the inside, and what I see is a huge amount of good that far outweighs the negatives. Thanks for this article.

    Comment by Tamary — July 23, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  6. Having received my Eagle from the Boy Scouts of America, I am proud to be a part of this honorable organization.

    And… as one of the living descendants of Tessie Dalebout Harrop, I want to express my gratitude for the Boy Scouts of America. I am one of Tessie’s 30 great grandchildren (of which she now has 133 great, great grandchildren with more coming). If it weren’t for the Boy Scouts of America, and the brave, young Louis Rosenlund who applied what he learned in the BSA, I would not have the family heritage that I now have.

    Thank you Louis, and thank you Boy Scouts of America for the good you have done in this country. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

    Comment by Jonathan Bruce Harrop — March 13, 2011 @ 11:44 am

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