Last week I had the opportunity to attend Camp Morrison Boy Scout Camp. It’s been about 25 years since I’ve been to scout camp and I must say that I was incredibly impressed with how everything was run.
I’ve been scoutmaster for the 11-year-old scouts for about three years. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time with these young men. In our troop, the 11-year-old scouts do not normally attend scout camp. However, this year, my oldest son is 11 years old so I thought it would be appropriate to take him to enjoy the experience.
We had 14 scouts ranging from 11 years old to 14 years old. These young men are amazing young men. In the last three years I thought I loved scouting because of the camping, outdoor activities and the other elements of the scouting program. However, I realized this week what I really enjoy about scouting is developing a solid relationship with these young men.
I think that all too often we think of our youth as irresponsible, arrogant, unappreciative and uncaring. We think that our youth don’t really care. My experience last week was just the opposite. These young men were quick to help each other. They were quick to encourage and assist. When they realized they were annoying another, they were quick to back off and apologize.
Now, I recognize that this particular group may be a bit above average. These young men have great parents and great friends that help them to learn right from wrong. However, I think that many adults could learn lessons in behavior from these young men.
There is an award at camp for the best overall troop called the “Bull of the Woods” (an old logging term). This award requires a lot of hard work. The boys are required to keep camp clean every day. If you’ve ever camped with youth (or with me) you’d know how hard that is. They have to perform service, participate in activities and even the scoutmasters have to pitch in and help.
To give you an idea of how great these boys are, each day, for camp cleanliness, they achieved maximum points. At meals, each of us three scoutmasters could serve the food because we could trust our scouts to manage themselves. They placed second place in a race on the last day that required a substantial amount of teamwork. In fact, even in instances where the scoutmasters were too tired to do the right thing, these great young men stood up for what they knew was right and encouraged us leaders to be better.
These young men had a goal of achieving “Bull of the Woods” and they didn’t let anything deter them from the achievement. They were very proud of the accomplishment and they should have been. They deserved it.
My hat’s off as well to the staff at Camp Morrison for all they did to make it a great experience. Because of the time and work they put into making camp a great environment, I was able to learn at least as much (if not more) than the boys we were meant to watch over and teach. I feel that my relationship with my son, especially, is much stronger than it ever would have been otherwise.
I wish more fathers would take the opportunity to spend this type of time with their children. I’m grateful I learned this lesson when my oldest is 11 and not waiting until my youngest was already grown.