My gypsy traveling blood and adventurous lifestyle is most likely genetic. My grandfather Thomas Cornell and Grandmother Agneus were both adventurers. My grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman, from small game to moose. My grandmother liked to camp with him, and was the first teacher in Park City, Utah. She would ride side-saddle everyday to the school where she would teach at. They both climbed Mount Timpanogos at 11,752 feet, in their 80’s!
As a family, we did a lot of camping. As I got older, my brother Ken and I joined the boy scouts, and later on both became eagle scouts. I had 2 palms, shy of only one merit badge from receiving a triple palm, the highest one could go in the scouting program. Eagle was 21 merit badges, and each palm was an additional 7 badges, so I had a total of 41 merit badges. Each one focused on a different subject or challenge. In order to obtain each badge, we did a lot of camping, and learned many new skills. Our skills weren’t only used for surviving in nature, we also learned a lot of life lessons, many of which I still use today. I have a lot to thank my dad publicly for. Not only did he get us into scouts, but he helped us with our projects and would join the scouts on many of our camp outs. I was one of the youngest eagles in the country at the time when we moved to Hawaii. The very first night we arrived, the scoutmaster from our church came over to our house and asked if we wanted to go on a camp out with his troops. Ken and I were both excited, but a little tired from the flights, etc. I replied: “That would be great, what day are you leaving for the camp out?” He laughed. They were leaving at 3am, and mind you it was already about 8pm at that point, and we were still in the midst of unpacking and such. He assured us we needn’t worry, we wouldn’t need much gear, and we could bring plastic tarp, twine, a couple of hooks, and of course a large knife for hunting and a backpack if we had one. He said we wouldn’t need much but a few camping tools, because it was a 3 day survival camp on a little Island not too far from where we lived called Chinamans Hat. That we would learn how to survive off the land and sea, as he began to laugh. I was thinking to myself, these people have no idea what they’re getting into. For us it was right up our alley, we were stoked! Scoutmaster Logan patted us both on the back, and still laughing welcomed us to Hawaii. He shook my dad's hand and assured him we would be okay. My pops, extremely proud of us, said, “I’m sure my boys will be excited to put their skills to the test, and learn the local way of life.” My mom said with a smile, “we better make you a big dinner.” The scoutmaster waved goodbye, and said “Aloha Cornell family, see you boys at 3.” and left. That 3 day survival on China Mans hat Island was a life changing experience for both my brother and I in the best way possible. I’m confident I can camp and survive as comfortably as possible anywhere in the world, and I HAVE. I like to live the full spectrum of life from surviving the jungles of Java to staying in 5 star hotels in Singapore with a view. I strive to be a well-rounded man, and meet people from different worlds and cultures.
I have had the pleasure to teach local kids how to surf, and hike through the deep Jungles of Java with my Bro “Haskulls” with the sound of roaring tigers echoing through the jungle. I also had the great pleasure of joining one of my fellow travelers and adventurers, “Big Steve Williams” , into remote mountain villages, where the people have never seen a white man. We bonded well with everyone in the village, from the toothless old hunched over woman, to the curious kid about our skin color and “sun bleached” blonde hair and blue eyes. It was an amazing experience. They even had a big festival that night with a ceremonial wedding, and we were invited to attend. It was as I call them, a “ National Geographic moment.” I plan on continuing traveling and adventuring around the world until my last breath. Blame it on the gypsy blood, but that’s me. I hope to bring you along with me on my adventures and travels through my writing.
Aloha, Sharky Cornell