By: Sandy Churchill
Our 12 year-old son Timothy is a Boy Scout—and we are blessed to be part of a super-active troop in our town. Among the scouting adventures is a bevy of camping opportunities, where scouts and chaperones hone their skills at tent set-up, cooking outdoors, hiking, and earning merit badges of all sorts.
While earning badges in environmental science, geology, mammal study, railroading, first aid, and citizenship, among others, a central joy in these camping experiences resides in the most elemental, simple moments discovered while camping.
Falling asleep beside a roaring river, awakening to birdsong, chatting by the fire with fellow scouts and parents, and hiking here, there, and everywhere in bug-sprayed jeans—seem to recharge us somehow. When we are cooking outdoors—or more often, surviving on whatever the pre-teen or teen “grubmasters” concoct on the camp stove or Dutch oven—the focus on basic needs keeps us present, in the moment and not distracted with concerns about work, bills, politics, and the like. When a teen asks for help on a rank requirement or needs assistance locating an item for the patrol, we are called to be attentive, helpful, and truly present.
The quest for a back-to-basics experience does more than bring fresh air and sunshine into our camping weekends. It provides family bonding alongside troop bonding and newly-forged friendships.
I love to witness my son mastering a new skill or growing in confidence as he cooks bacon outdoors, learns to tie a square knot, or engages in saw safety in his Flight to Eagle classes. But I also enjoy watching the older scouts eagerly present home-made chili or breakfast quiche in the woods, proud of their accomplishments and awaiting our reactions. I am thrilled to see them master a safety or survival technique or help each other with a team challenge. It’s as if scouting makes us all parents of all the boys and proud of how they are growing and learning on their journey to become men.
We beam with pride when one of the scouts rises through the ranks to Eagle, an accomplishment that comprises hundreds of hours of dedication, service, training, planning, budgeting, and leadership as their work culminates in a final community service project.
So it is with gratitude that we look forward to a summer of camping adventures with our spirited Boy Scouts. A summer brimming not only with fun and relaxation, but growth for each of us as we embrace life, savor the outdoors, and tackle new adventures.