Always A New Adventure

September 20, 2009

Camden State Park-Lynd, MN

Our troop took a day hike this weekend. Camden State Park is just southwest of Marshall, Minnesota, on State Highway 23. The headwaters of the Redwood River cut a scenic valley out of the Buffalo Ridge with a cold-water trout fishery and multiple-use trails atypical for our prairie home. We saw maples, oaks and sumac starting to show fall colors, turkey buzzards and bluebirds floating on warm breezes, wild turkeys and jumping fish. It was a wonderful late-summer day.

The Second Class 5-mile hike requirement is widely feared by our young Scouts. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and our part of the state is fairly flat, lacking in interesting hiking topography. Camden offers a good 100 feet in elevation change with at least 15 miles of interlaced trails to choose from. They even have a mountain bike race each year.

We don’t do as much hiking as I would like. Our troop has more of a canoeing tradition. Several of the Assistant Scoutmasters are skilled canoeists and our recent Eagle Scouts have opted for Swimming merit badge over hiking or biking options. The Boundary Waters are closer than mountain hiking trails, and I enjoyed trips to Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base when I was a youth, so I understand the tradition.

Yet Scouting to me isn’t Scouting without hiking. Hiking merit badge was one of the first merit badges I earned “back when”. In the years since, I’ve logged many memorable hours exploring prairie and mountain trails across the United States and Canada. There’s just no better way to appreciate the natural world than to get off the pavement and hit the trail.

I suppose it’s the leader’s conundrum. Is it ethical to steer the patrol leaders’ council to activities we want to do ourselves? Do we encourage those we know we can get two deep leadership for? Is it even more simply acknowledging what we know we can get done?

There’s a big old brand new Boy Scout Handbook out chock-full of activities that Boy Scouts do. Scoutcraft, Woodcraft, Campcraft, and more. No one Scouter this side of Green Bar Bill can hope to be an authority on all of them. At the same time, isn’t that one of the unlauded benefits of Scouting? That there is always something new to try? Always a new adventure?

In fact, each new Scout that joins our troop brings a whole new adventure to the group. Each adult, each youth, each parent and family member, bring new interests, activities, competing activities, baggage, experience, love and joy to our Scouting family. We are all part of a Century of tradition that grows and changes with each brand new Tenderfoot starting out on their own personal Scouting adventure.

And on each new adventure, we always tell our Scouts to give it a go and do your best. This is the hard part for me, the unscripted bits between the specific rank requirements. You know, that “Show Scout Spirit” part. So I will do my best and challenge our Scouts to pick up their hiking sticks. They will challenge me to work on my swimming (and oh so much else!). Together we’ll be prepared, for any old adventure that comes our way.


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