[July 17, 2018] As I write this from Boy Scout campsite Yawgoog, our boys are getting ready to trek to dinner and show their scout spirit. This is the end of day 2 at Boy Scout summer camp in rural southern New Jersey. So far, we’ve re-learned a few leader lessons worth sharing.
The Boy Scout Motto is “be prepared.”1 And that is the first lesson re-learned by our boys. Most would say that “yes” they were prepared for this year’s summer camp. They talked about it, had a senior scout give a hands-on presentation of what gear and clothing to bring, and the Scoutmaster spent time discussing common mistakes scouts make every year. But they still were not as prepared as they would have liked. Nearly everyone forgot to bring something they had planned to bring or were not mentally prepared for the hot and humid weather.
The last line of the Boy Scout Oath (or Promise) reads, “To keep myself physically strong …” Boy Scout Camp is tough on boys who are physically weak. Navigating all the fun challenges, merit badge requirements, and keeping our campsite clean is a daunting task. It requires the scouts to walk along trails all day long under an intense sun often being wet and tired. I would guess that each scout walks at least five or more miles a day. Blisters on the feet and a few swollen ankles make this a bit more challenging. Oh, there is no sleeping in; wake-up is at 6:00 am.
The Boy Scout Law has 12 values that each scout swears to each day. The 5th one is “courteous” and the 8th one is “cheerful.” After a few days of living outside in a wooded area with mosquitoes, wasps, and critters that bite, as well as walking around in humidity that feels like you just took a shower and a hot sun, all can together make young boys’ tempers flare up. All of us can get a little testy sometimes and the conditions at scout camp are made for it. Fortunately, none of our scouts have cried yet and begged for their mommies.
It is not surprising to those adult leaders who’ve been to scout camp for many years, that there are lessons each scout had to re-learn. They intellectually know and understand what is required of them. Executing those requirements, on the other hand, is challenging. That is how scouting ultimately brings out the best in boys and why the adult leaders are present to guide them.