Submitted by Sue Ellen Briggs, Flintlock District Chair
Scouting provides wonderful ways to have fun in the outdoors. I would say that there are two types of experiences. The first kind is picture perfect; smiling scouts under sunny skies. The second type is the activity that is better talked about after the fact than it was during the event.
I had the privilege of being an adult leader on one of those type 2 activities. My son and his patrol spent a sunny day on the beach at summer camp lashing together a raft using Styrofoam and pvc pipe. Their raft was ready for launch after lunch. They loaded minimal supplies and paddled off to a not too distant shore to prepare for a night in the woods. They spent the afternoon building shelters. Anyone who has done this knows it is pretty difficult. They compared their techniques. …
I arrived at the site on foot with everything I would need for an overnight. I setup my tent in a clearing not too far from a fire ring.
After dinner, thunder could be heard in the distance. We settled into our shelters for the night. Then the rain started. It was a soft summer rain. One by one the scouts abandoned their “shelter” and congregated around the fire ring complaining about the quality of their shelter and their lack of supplies. Then a scout suggested that they ask me to take them back to the Troop and their dry tents. The reaction of the rest of the scouts was amazing. They stopped complaining about what they didn’t have and talked about what they did have. They got to work creating a fire. They talked about the rain not being that heavy and reminisced about worse weather. In the early morning hours the rain stopped and we got a little sleep.
As a parent I do want to protect my children, and scouts in my care. I would have packed up and taken the scouts to their dry tents if they had asked. With devices keeping parents and children connected it is easy for parents to assist a child with the smallest of obstacle, limiting the opportunities for children to build self efficacy by figuring out their own solutions. Because these scouts decided to stay they each earned the Wilderness Survival merit badge. In the morning they triumphantly paddled their raft to the beach. As an observer I left with hope for these young men in the future. In each life a little rain will fall. When it does these guys will not give up or just endure, they know how to lift spirits and provide comfort in those times.