Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How not to hike!

Perhaps one of my favorite hiking songs from my Scouting youth. I can clearly remember singing this as we worked our way through Philmont during the summer of 1981. Funny how auditory triggers like a song or an olfactory memory like the smell of a pine tree can take me back.

I hope my next hiking adventure goes a little better than the experience of these Muppets : )

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Meet the Owls

I would like to introduce you to six of my newest heroes. For the last few weeks I have known them as the Owl Patrol. They are Randy, Jeffery, George, Sally, Everett, and Eric. Together they share a common passion to help the youth in our area to live lives based on a common set of values that are seldom talked about in today’s world. These values center on the three Aims of Scouting; Character, Citizenship and Fitness.

Just weeks ago they were strangers to each other and now I can tell you they have built bonds that may last a lifetime. They came together to attend the premiere Boy Scout Adult leader training known as Woodbadge.

Believe me this in not an easy commitment. Participants (and staff) pay to participate and are required to attend two four day weekends of training and then complete five goals known as “tickets” within 18 months. The actual course is action packed with activity starting with breakfast and running all the way to after nine PM.

You might find it surprising to learn this training does not involve fire building skills, camping skills or knot tying. Instead, the participants learn advanced techniques for project planning, team development, teaching others, coaching, mentoring, conflict management and more. I was a leadership trainer for many years and can tell you this course is on par with anything you will find in corporate America.

Back to the hero part.

These are not six super heroes that you will most likely ever read about in the paper or see on TV. With the exception of a Scout related training award or two, these heroes will most likely never get any recognition for their efforts and certainly will never benefit financially. Most kids they encounter will never thank them for their efforts and from time to time there will be conflicts with parents as well as other volunteers. They will have many nights of sleeping on the ground, getting bug bites, and dealing with homesick children. Many will no longer have family vacations due to all off time being used for training or for sponsoring trips. They will ultimately spend hundreds if not thousands of their own money to pay for camps, travel, gas, uniforms and equipment.

But with all these challenges they will press on. Press on with the inner confidence that they are making the only investment in life that actually matters. It is an investment through service and sacrifice in the lives of others. Based on what I know of these folks, the world will reap benefits finer than any gold from their efforts.

Congratulations Owls and “work those tickets if you can”. If that catchy Bette Midler song were not so hard to sing I would belt it out for you now.

Are you a hero? If not sign up as a volunteer and you too will soon be making a difference for others.