The Scout motto is to “be prepared.” I often hear stories of mothers packing their kids bags full of everything, much more than they would ever need. Maybe there is something good to that and maybe it is a little too much coddling. Kids need some space to grow confidence in their own abilities and prepare to leave the nest altogether eventually. But all too often I hear stories where the Scouts and the leaders were not prepared enough to greater detriment. It’s a balance to manage the learning experience. Still, as long as everyone is safe, sometimes it goes along with sayings such as “no harm no foul,” and “let’s do better next time.” That’s how an innocent 10-15 mile hike turned out for me.
No kid wants to carry a lot on a hike. Our hike got extra long one hot day when I was twelve years old. There was more than a dozen of us boys and a couple leaders. During a stretch of plains and hills without any cover of trees we had sweat off all of our energy. Our few canteens were long since empty. Kids were dragging their feet. No one even bothered asking how much farther it was anymore.
My Scoutmaster asked if anyone had any water or even food left. I hadn’t thought about food. I had an apple. I held it up high and freely gave anyone who wanted a bite. It’s funny how germs don’t matter as much at that time and besides I got the first bite. It was amazing how much one bite of an apple reinvigorated our bodies and spirits.
Our leader had a little song he taught us–a blast from his childhood past. One kid would sing, “Apple core.” Another would reply, “Baltimore.” Another would yell, “Who’s your friend?” And the one with the apple core would shout, “He is!” And then he would throw the core at a target darting away from him. We played that game with some pep in our step all the way back to camp.