Like a lot of guys, I was once a Boy Scout of America. In fact, I even became an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America). I can’t say that I am a hard core outdoor wilderness guy, but I do enjoy camping, hiking, and the great outdoors from time to time. Now as an adult I am a Boy Scout leader in my neighborhood; working specifically with the 11 year old scouts. This past weekend was one of three campouts we go on as a group.
It had been a long time since I’d last been camping, and to be with a group of 11 year old boys is a whole other story. The first thing I noticed when I got to our camp was just how quiet it was. No traffic. No loud music. No technology hum. All the sounds that make up the background noises of my life seemed to vanish. I felt a little guilty pulling out my iphone to check if I had service — nothing. It was so refreshing.
The camp we were at was an organized scout camp, so there were camp programs and activities. The first night we walked about a quarter mile on what was called the Honor Trail. Every few meters or so we would stop as a camp councilor would talk to us about one aspect of the Scout Law. We were each asked to walk in silence and with our flashlights off. It gave each of us time to reflect on becoming a better person. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see constellations above us. It was beautiful. The moon eventually came out and my eyes had become so adjusted that the moonlight seemed incredibly bright.
The next morning we went on an early morning hike – 5 miles before breakfast (which for me is an accomplishment). The hike was great. The quiet morning before it got too hot and the incredible scenery that I don’t get from my office’s windows. Added to that was the success of each young scout that completed this trek – waking up early, on a Saturday, to do something a lot of them weren’t even sure they wanted to do. By they end, they all agreed it had been worth it.
A part of my faith is to set Sunday apart as a sacred day; to take that time and reflect on how I can serve others, improve my relationship with God, and work on being a better person. I think camping can work the same way. I get caught up in the daily grind of life and taking the occasional overnighter to get away from it all is empowering. Camping is one of my favorite summertime adventures (we’ll talk about winter campouts another time). And hopefully I’ll get to do more.