COURTESY OF SCOUT TROOP 859 - Dawn Nakano of San Franciso, left, (above photo) has a bandage rewrapped by a U.S. Coast Guard airman as Scout leaders Joe Young (red shirt) and Anthony Holden look on.Editor’s note: The following letter from Dawn Nakano was sent to the Sherwood City Council, thanking members of Boy Scout Troop 859 of Sherwood for their help after she suffered second-degree burns following a camp stove accident in California in June.

Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council Members,

I want to share with you my story to shine a light on a great group of boys and men in your midst. Earlier this summer, I was backpacking with my 15-year-old daughter, her friend (also 15), and my 13-year-old son in the King Range National Conservation Area. We were 11 miles into a 25 miles stretch of the Lost Coast when I had an accident while trying to fix our cook stove. The accident resulted in severe second-degree burns on the lower half of my left leg.

It was midday, we had just completed a 4-mile stretch of the coast that was impassable at high tide, and the next low tide was at 6 p.m. The terrain was rugged, including stretches that required scrambling over large boulders. There was no cell reception within at least a 40 miles radius. Just as we were realizing how dire our situation was, a group of backpackers appeared down the beach. It was Boy Scout Troop 859 from Sherwood, Oregon!

If our story was a movie, no one would believe the part where, right after the accident as we realize how difficult it will be to get to a hospital, along comes a troop of Boy Scouts who dress the wound, call for help, and see us through to safety. But that is exactly what happened. When the boys and men of Troop 859 got to us, I told them about our situation and they flew into action.

They dropped their backpacks, accessed multiple first aid kits, and gathered the medical supplies needed to dress the wound. One of the Troop leaders had rented a satellite phone for the trip and called for help. One of the Boy Scouts had recently recovered from 3rd degree burns on his arm, so he took the lead in dressing the wound and making sure I avoided two common side effects of severe burns, dehydration and hypothermia.

Although the call for help had been made, we had no idea who was coming or how and when they would get to us. We thanked the Boy Scouts profusely and urged them to continue on their way. They had a long way to go that day (12 miles total!) so we didn’t want to take any more of their time.

They refused, however, making it clear that our situation allowed them to practice the skills and core values integral to their training as Boy Scouts. There was no question that they would see us through to safety, so we settled in to wait for help to arrive.

A couple hours later a Coast Guard crew in a helicopter arrived, tended to my leg, calculated the combined weight of our group and backpacks, and took off to burn enough fuel to evacuate all of us. Three hours later, we were rising above the Lost Coast, waving goodbye to our new friends. I will always remember those hours we spent together with gratitude and awe at our good fortune. We connected through all we have in common and across our differences.

My accident left me shaken and scared, but we left the Lost Coast that day feeling better for having met them. One of the group leaders told us that during their long drive to the trailhead, they were talking about how to fulfill their commitment to serve others when so many are in need of help.

The men acknowledged how easy it is to feel overwhelmed, but advised them to focus instead on helping one person. That day, I was that one person. But I’ve shared my experience with friends and family, who have shared it with their friends and family.

And now I’m sharing it with you, with the hope that the kindness and generosity of strangers on a lost coast, continues to touch the hearts of others for many years to come.

A week after my accident I was recuperating at home with my family when the doorbell rang. A box was delivered from REI.

We were puzzled, looking at each other asking, “Did you order something?” “No, did you?” It was addressed to me, so I opened it and pulled out a new stove! After we left them, the boys decided to pool their money and send me the safest backpacking stove on the market. I burst into tears while my daughter jumped up and down screaming. Our new stove will carry us safely through many future outdoor adventures.

I share this story to celebrate and honor these remarkable, extremely competent, kind and generous members of your community. And to request that the City Council recognize Sherwood Oregon’s Boy Scout Troop 859 in whatever way is most appropriate.


Dawn Nakano

San Francisco

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