Yes, I learned something about young men. The bottom line up front is that Boys are Boys.
Let me explain.
I recently had a talk with a few adult leaders, we were talking about the differences in Scouts today versus the Scouts of old… and yes we were talking about when we all donned the green collarless shirts.
As we talked we came to the conclusion that Boys are Boys.. Scouts are Scouts.
The difference was in the culture.. not the kid.
When we were Scouts we looked for every opportunity for adventure. We were allowed to.
We would stay out after dark and wander in the woods behind our house. The street light was a signal to stay close to home in the summer and time to head in during the school year.
We made rafts in a local pond and got real wet most of the time, we took our bikes on miles of trail and track, packed a lunch or found stuff to eat.
We put on our Packs and hit the trail for a weekend with out a Scoutmaster or Assist hovering.. and on Sunday… we hiked back out to meet them. (We can still do that in the BSA… most parents just freak out over the idea).
A good story was all it took for us to explore. Tell us there was a crazy man that was the last of a Civil war Confederate regiment hold up on a hill somewhere.. we were climbing that hill to find him.
Our parents and teacher though we were overly active.. full of energy… Now they call it ADHD and medicate till the adventure is gone.
Our parents knew how to spray a leg or elbow with that stinging stuff in a can and tell you everything was OK. Now a black eye will land you in the Emergency Room.
We would come home cut, scraped, bloody nosed and a grin from ear to ear. We were having fun and living the life of the young Indiana Jones.
We all grew up just fine. We all grew up with a strong work ethic, a since of adventure, and a lot of responsibility. We grew up with skills that have stood the test of our time on earth.
We all have a strong set of values and know which way to follow our moral compass.
Skinned knees and worn our jeans were just the way it was if you wanted the next adventure.
So what’s the difference between us and the next group of boys? Well if you ask me its a culture of fear.
We fear for our kids, we don’t want to see them grow up, we don’t want to see them hurt, we don’t want to put them in harms way. Well, OK.. I can grab some of that… but what are we doing when we don’t encourage the zest for adventure. When we foster a willingness in ourselves to let them run through the woods, build fires, use a knife, trap a small animal.. just because we can… tear an old pair of jeans and not have mom freak out. When we foster that willingness.. our boys have a better life. They can go without a pill box full of meds, they can do without a hovering leader, they become the leader and the adventurer.
So what did I learn on the last Back pack trip?
All of the above. I saw the Scouts of our troop take on a adventure, they made decisions, led the way and traversed across a dangerous trail. They did not need medications, they skipped rocks on the creek and stayed up to see the amazing stars. They cooked their own meals and shared with each other. They took themselves to the brink of exhaustion and kept going.
They pushed themselves harder than most have ever pushed before… and in the end were rewarded handsomely by an awesome view, clean air, and hanging out with their pals.
I learned that that the difference between them and me… They are not allowed to be adventurous. And that I thought to myself is my job as their Scoutmaster. Give them the adventure that they don’t get at home, school, or in todays culture of not taking risk and adventure.
I will never stop learning.. and will never quite wanting to live like Indiana Jones either.
Have a Great Scouting Day!