Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why does it have to take so much time?

Why do Scout activities have to take so long? Do you really need to take all day?

It's a question I hear over and over.  I finally have an answer: It takes that kind of time investment for situations to develop where real lessons can be extracted and learned.  If the boys' activities consist of simply "Show up at nine, we'll be home for lunch," most times all you really did was wander around the woods for a while before piling in the car to make someone else's deadline.

Last Saturday, I took my boys hiking up Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake.  It's a three-mile trail, with a 2,000' elevation gain on the most prominent island in the lake.  It's probably the only place in the state where you see bison, pronghorn, deer, and even bighorn sheep (5 rams!), and hear the coyotes sing to you, yet still see your local high school's letter on the hillside.  Near the summit, the trail sort of splits.  The trail proper continues along the west face of the mountain, while the left "fork" scrambles over boulders.

With four tired, inexperienced hikers, we opted for the first option to make the summit. It was a hard final push, but worth it when they made the summit and saw the USGS marker noting that they’d climbed two thousand feet, and could see more and farther than they ever had before, from their vantage point atop Frary Peak, 6,600’ above sea level.

The whole crew atop Antelope Island.
After lunch at the top, and a lucky spotting of the aforementioned sheep (so glad I packed the extra weight of my 70-210mm lens, but alas, improper focus), we started back down the trail. Since the boys were rested, we thought we’d take the ridge-line trail back down. It was easy to see where the trails re-joined, ½ mile away, so off we went. It didn’t take long to realize that the ridge-line “trail” was anything but, as it disappeared into the rocks, but only after we’d already gotten to a point where we were committed to the current path. My assistant and I both spent some time finding one game trail after another.  In one spot, I had to pull out my 550 cord, tie all the bags together and lower them down about 30’ while we assisted the boys to climb down the rocks.  (Does anyone really question the wisdom and necessity of 2-deep leadership anymore?)

That half-mile took the better part of an hour, but I saw boys working together, helping each other, encouraging each other and solving problems; they put the is in the Scout Law.

After seven hours, the boys were in high spirits and thought the whole adventure was great! When asked what the best part was, one (the newest 11YOScout) replied, “pushing myself harder than I thought I could go!”

And thus we see that by committing ourselves to finishing a real adventure, an opportunity develops in which to learn Important Things:

We knew where we wanted to go, and we knew that we were not where we needed to be. But by stopping to assess the situation, offer a little prayer and then make a little progress before stopping to reassess, little by little we moved forward until a familiar landmark appeared, and we could just walk to it and reacquire the true path.

"Now, boys, apply this situation to repentance, the Atonement, or your goals."  Given a bit of time to think about it, the poignancy of their answers will surprise you.

If we had limited ourselves to “We’ll go as far as we can for an hour, and then go home” (a constraint which many advocate, and even demand), that kind of discussion could never take place.

(Oh, and if anyone was paying attention, they could have easily identified ten wild animals and native plants that day, because, you know, requirements.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

1 comment:

Fishgutts said...

I love this post! Back to basics. Awesome post!!!