It was 10 below zero. The snow was over 5 feet deep. When I heard my patrol leader holler, I woke up and stuck my nose out of my sleeping bag. He was telling me to get up and start a fire for breakfast. I was 12 years old and a new scout.
Second campout. Our troop had snow shoed into the back country in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and spent the night under a pine tree with no tent. I felt great! Until I realized that I had left my laces in my pack boots and there was no way to put my boots on. Well, no one had told me to take the laces out of my boots and sleep with them. Once I got my boots on, I found the fire we had started the night before, which was 5 feet straight down in a hole.
We had not used enough green boughs off the pine trees as a bed for the fire so our coals were now 5 feet down. So, after digging steps down to the coals, getting the fire started and filling a bucket with snow, I was ready to boil water for our oatmeal breakfast. Well, I stuck a stick into the side of the snow and waited for the magic of boiling water. Guess what?
The fire melted the snow below the stick, and the pot of water dumped onto the fire, and I got to start all over again. So, what happened to me? Was I called a bad Scout and sent home to mom? Nope. An older Scout guided me through the process. I was allowed to fail and learn from the experience. It was my first step toward building self-reliance and confidence that I could handle myself in any situation. And, I knew it at the time!
This was not something I figured out 20 years later. Some Scouting lessons take decades to realize. Some take minutes. It is a gift that gives from the moment of the experience and then goes on for decades.
The Scouting program embraces failure as a teaching tool and learning opportunity.
Food gets burned, tents fall down in the rain, but Scouts learn to work together as a team, and leadership skills start to emerge.
Being able to fail, regroup and develop a plan for success is critical to leadership development. Eventually most scouts can help lead a troop in one of several leadership positions. Troops consist of multiple patrols and can be up to 100 boys, with a multi-thousand dollar a year budget, and a complicated matrix of year-round programs and activities. Where else can a teenage youth have that experience?
To lead a complex, multi-tiered organization and be completely immersed in that environment from age 10 to 18? Nowhere. Not another organization on the planet offers that opportunity to youth.
Scouting’s influence on our lives has a deep, profound and lasting impact.
Submitted by: Glenn Adams of FORT WORTH