Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Son takes a fall--Reminds us why we love Scouts

It has been a challenging time for our family these last couple of weeks. While away for a high school leadership retreat, our son had the ground under him collapse while sitting on the edge of a cliff. This resulted in several injuries including a shattered L4 vertebrata, broken L5, broken bone in foot and a broken jaw.

What I found striking during this whole ordeal is how much his Scouting experience has helped. First of all, it just so happened that his Scoutmaster was at this event along with several Scouts. Thanks to Wilderness First Aid training, he Scoutmaster was quickly and calmly able to organize the people near Conner and prepare him for emergency transfer. Meanwhile, the other Scouts on the scene from what I am told organized the other people around him and helped keep him calm. The school administrator on the scene was amazed.

Once in the hospital, I think Conner told just about every staff member and Dr. about how he had gone through the disability awareness area at Jamboree and as a result felt he had a good understanding what is was going to be like to use a wheelchair a walker or whatever thing will be required. There was no doubt this past experience had helped prepare him for this current experience.

His first question to the Dr. that was going to do the fusion surgery for his back--"Will I be able to backpack again?" Thankfully the answer is yes and we anticipate a full recovery within just a few months.

During his time in the hospital, many of his most frequent and happiest visitors were people he has become close with due to his years as a Scout.

The last several days have without a doubt again illustrated to me the value and power of Scouting in the life of my son and our family. It is not just something my son does, it is deeply part of who he is and as a result we are all better people.

I am going to pause many times during this week of Thanksgiving and I am sure in the weeks to come to give thanks that Conner will be okay and that he brought that little join Scouts flyer home all those year ago.

The right side of the image is the cliff he fell from. Conner is the blue at the bottom. The left side is the sandy spot where he landed feet first. Had he landed in any other spot and in any other way things would have been much worse.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time for a final father son adventure

In less than a week, we will be on our way to Atikokan for our Troop Northern Tier Adventure.  My son is going to be a Sr next year and I know this is going to be our last Scout High Adventure together. Certainly it is closing chapter on an amazing Scouting career together.

Basically we have done it all with summer camps, Sea Base, Jamboree, Philmont and now this. The time and expense commitment has been tremendous but I know the experience and memory investment return will bring great dividends in the years to come. I also am very thankful to be married to a terrific person that has with a smile dealt with her stinky post camp out men and days alone while we were off on some adventure.  

As much as the time with Conner, I have been blessed on these many adventures to have great moments with many Scouts as they have grown up a bit right in front me. Really there are few greater moments than being with a kid the first time he ever is away from home for multiple days, rides a horse, catches a fish, climbs a mountain, leads a team, figures out how to get “unlost” in the backcountry and more.  

These years active in Scouting with my son and our Troop have without a doubt molded both us in positive ways I do not think I yet fully comprehend. I do know that I would not trade back a single moment of it. 

Now it time for a final Troop adventure. I know it is going to be amazing. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Norther Tier Practice Campout

This weekend was our first Northern Tier Crew outing as we work to prepare for our Trip that is coming the last weekend June this year. The Troop has two groups going each consisting of 6 Scouts and 2 adults. Originally both crews were going on the same date but the other crew had to change due to some scheduling conflicts.

Up to this point we have had several crew meetings and some crew training during our March campout. This was the first time and perhaps the only time are camping just crew only. It was also the first time were able to test out our skills on the water and together
Northern Tier is my fourth high adventure in a row with Sea Base, Philmont, and Jamboree in the previous years. Each experience has been very different and for sure I have learned a lot along the way. We are very fortunate to have and adult on the second crew that has been to Northern Tier previously and most of the Scouts on our crew have previously participated in high adventure.

Nonetheless, I know from experience that it is important to not take anything for granted. Discovering and working out group dynamic frustrations and skill identifiers prior to being off on the adventure are very important. Even though these Scouts have been together for many years the function of a small group in a wilderness situation is far different from a small group as part of a larger Troop.

Our weekend went pretty well with the Scouts and the Adults learning some lessons to take and soak on before we train again. As expected, there were Scouts short on gear, Scouts that wanted to take short cuts on learning and Scouts that were just plain excited all the time. All of course is part of the process of team building and learning. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hello 2014

Well it looks like 2014 is here and in full swing. Last year was pretty amazing for us as a Scouting family and especially for my son.

He started the year with his second spring term as the Troop SPL, helped is buddies complete several Eagle Projects, completed his own project which benefited our Charter Org, became an Eagle Scout, was SPL for one of the Council Jamboree Troops, and earned a bronze palm. Whew! Oh and he also turned 16 and got his first car.
Having a blast as Jambo ASM
It was one of those years that I do not think he will truly appreciate until he is much older.

Of course through all of these adventures I was there as well. I saw that he was far more effective during his second round as SPL since he was able to apply many of the lessons he had learned through trial and error the first time. I also so much of this experience go into action as Jamboree SPL which in his own words was the most difficult thing he had ever done. This was mostly due to the Troop dynamics of a Jamboree Troop not allowing a lot of Patrol level segmentation. This basically left him running everything which was difficult but a great learning experience.

His Eagle Project was great with him able to use his leadership skills and many of the skills he has been learning in school through his engineering academy. His Scoutmaster really challenged him to pull off a first class project.
Conner's Project: Donation boxes
Honestly, in my mind I thought he would be done with Scouting after Jamboree and Eagle. I am very thankful that instead he seems still very excited to be part of the Troop and to enjoy time as a leader and with his friends. I can certainly say that thanks to the great Scouts and adults in our Troop I am still as enthused as ever.

Upon reflection, it is just amazing to think of how much Scouting over the years has become part of who he is and who we are together as father and son. I know that many years from now we will look back and tell stories galore about these times. The years have shaped both of us into better people.

What does the future hold?  I am continuing as a Troop ASM and we both have one more adventure ahead with Northern Tier in June. Life is good indeed.

Stay tuned to the blog as I do plan to write from time to time about our Northern Tier planning and experience.