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Scouts were prepared for long wait for president

CENTRAL POINT ' Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts got a taste of patriotism along with a lesson in the virtues of patience during President Bush's visit Thursday.

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? — ? — ? — ? — — — — 10 a.m., nearly 600 youngsters in neatly pressed uniforms had lined up outside Compton Arena at the Jackson County Exposition Park.

After hours of waiting punctuated by bathroom breaks, restless stretching and waiting to go through security, followed by a long speech in a hot arena, most youngsters admitted they would have enjoyed less speech and more of a chance to meet the president face to face.

If I would have got a chance to talk to him I would have told him I respected what he said about preventing fires, said 11-year-old Erika Cleary, a Girl Scout from Brookings.

Before the president's arrival, uniforms were straightened, bathroom trips were encouraged now and not later, and troop leaders lectured on the buddy system and not making fun of government officials.

As time dragged on, uniforms became rumpled, the smallest Scouts fell asleep and restlessness prevailed.

When's he going to get here? Do you think he's going to bring his dog? asked a Cub Scout.

While most spectators wondered about the president's speech, the smallest Scouts had some other questions.

If he's coming to the fair why ain't there any rides?

Can I take this off?

Why isn't he here yet?

When Bush finally appeared on stage just before — p.m., dozens of youngsters scrambled to their feet, fumbling with disposable cameras.

I liked it when he comed out and everyone was all excited, said Brownie Olivia Berryessa, 6, of Medford. And I liked the music and the part about stopping fires. That made everybody happy. But I thought we were going to get to meet him and take his picture.

Eight-year-old Joshua Thornton of White City had a favorite part, too.

I liked the part when my leg fell asleep and quit hurting, admitted the Cub Scout.

Some Scouts were excited about the possibility of seeing the president ' and maybe themselves ' from home.

We made signs and held 'em up, said 8-year-old Kelsie Bartley of Brookings.

The cameras saw 'em, they said 'We Love Bush,' and I bet our pictures are going to be on TV!

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at .