The Lord has a sick sense of humor… I have a long established dislike of scouting (that’s probably too mild of a word, but I’m trying to be positive), and have recently been caught expressing my feeling that the only calling in the ward I would like less than being Bishop would be as the Scout Master. About six months ago, while I was passing through Amarillo on my way back to DC after an unplanned and very short return to New Mexico, I got a call from the stake Executive Secretary asking if there was any way I could meet with the Stake President before I returned to DC. The Bishop had been in the calling long time, and the talk was that it was time for someone new. Seeing as how I had already left the state on my way to DC and wouldn’t be back for six months, the appointment never happened. About four months later, they called a new Bishop… Bishop Johnson. I joked that it must have been that other brother Johnson they were looking for.
When I got home, everybody teased that I had dodged a bullet. My response was generally along the lines of… “Yeah, so long as they don’t call me to be the scoutmaster instead.” Fast forward a month or so, and lo and behold, exactly that happened. I actually contemplated going inactive for a few years rather than accept the calling… As a more positive alternative, I opted to accept the calling, and am still working on getting my mind wrapped around the fact that I have to have anything at all to do with the BSA. I have been firmly in the camp that believes the church should cut ties with that organization, and have been disappointed every time the decision has been made to stick with them. When I accepted the call to work with the young men, the Bishopric agreed that there was no need for me to dress up in a stupid uniform, and that I could make the program what I wanted it to be. So… we’ll have a bunch of young men’s activities, and help the boys that are interested to earn rank/badges/whatever on the side. That aside, I am now decidedly affiliated with scouting.
The first activity we’ve done (aside from one weeknight teaching boys to handle/throw/tie ropes) was a camp-out and rock-climbing. Of the more attractive aspects of this almost God-forsaken city is that it’s a relatively short drive from here to some of the most beautiful ponderosa forests and high-deserts you’ll find. As a consequence, there are a wide variety of people who rock-climb, hunt, mountain-bike, hike, show-shoe, and almost any other outdoor activity you can find. With several avid climbers in the ward, the scouts have done an annual climbing trip every year for the last four years. All I had to do was show up with a truck to haul all the boys gear and participate in the fun.
Weather here has been gorgeous lately, with temperatures near eighty, and overnight lows only dropping into the fifties. Nobody thought too hard about the fact that the place we would be climbing would be several thousand feet higher elevation, so everyone was shocked when it had dropped down near 20 by morning. I think I was probably one of the only ones who was comfortable (I never rely on scouts to plan and pack for me… I keep what I need to be comfortable in my truck toolbox pretty much all the time). It was a chore to peel the boys away from the fire to get camp broken down, but we succeeded and were packed up and headed to the rock-face by seven thirty.
Of the boys and leaders, everyone but one of the young men went up the rock face at least twenty feet. A few of the boys made it to the top of the most difficult route (I only made it 1/3 of the way up that particular one before realizing pulling my 200 lbs another 40 feet up that route wasn’t something I was going to be able to finish). I was proud of all of them. Of the croud, I managed the worst injuries with just some skinned knuckles and a little road-rash on an elbow (on that last and most difficult climb), so the trip met my criteria for success — nobody in the E.R. and everyone tired and happy on the ride home. Pictures below: