Last week I spent time with our school’s scout troop during their week long camp. I taught a few different things and watched them grow as scouts and young adults. For some it was the first time to tie knots or lash together anything, let alone a structure that had to support their own weight. We had a few wilt under the culmination of daily hikes and workouts, but they persevered hopefully learning something about themselves in the process. They continued the great scout tradition of testing themselves and their skills in different challenges. Not everything was as I remember about the summer camp experience. Meals were taken outside, no dining hall in sight and with no tents to sleep in the concrete floor of a school classroom had to suffice. However, the emphasis on leadership, personal development, teamwork, and personal standards were all there. During a teaching session with Zach, the troop leader, and myself, one of the scouts asked, “What is a scout?” The question gave us both some pause, but I think the answer shows the universal nature of the scouting program.
A scout is one who goes ahead of others. Someone who sees what is ahead, either on the trail or in life. They advance ahead of their peers because of their work ethic and discipline, but because of their leadership and commitment to community they then return. Not continuing on ahead indefinitely, but coming back to guide others forward in the direction they have already been. They lead with sure footing because they are prepared for the task having already tested themselves on the challenges of life.
I give thanks to my own scouting experience and I hope my excitement shows through for getting to share with another generation of scouts, even if it is in a different part of the world.