The Deacons went on a camp out and 10-mile hike last weekend. We timed this camp out just right and had only a little rain as we were going to bed Friday evening. If the weather had moved in one day earlier, we would have been the victims of freezing rain and sleet, which probably would have stopped our Saturday activity - a 10 mile hike.
Saturday's weather was a little cool, but great for a hike. We went to Prince William Forest Park in Virginia - about 35 miles south of Washington DC. In contrast to our last 10-mile hike which was along the C&O Canal to Great Falls, this hike was on small trails with lots of rocks, roots, climbs, and descents. As a result, it took us a lot longer than the flat C&O Canal towpath.
Initially we made good time and stopped about half-way for lunch. As we departed with renewed energy, it was a little hard to tell exactly where we were due to a lack of landmarks but we took a guess after reviewing the map and figuring out how long we'd been hiking.
About an hour or so after lunch, we came to a signpost that pointed the way to a trail that was part of our hike. We were a little confused because we saw no trail intersection on our map at what we thought was our location. It was quite demoralizing after a few minutes to finally figure out that we weren't nearly as far as we thought we were. There was some discussion about whether to just take this shortcut or continue on the planned hike. We decided, with some dissent, to continue on for the full hike.
We did eventually make it back to our camp. As usual, the scouts didn't seem to be affected much, but the adults stiffen up and ache quite a bit. Everyone was tired though and I'm sure we all slept well that night in our beds.
The next day was Fast Sunday. During the testimony portion of Sacrament Meeting one of the Deacons that went on the trip shared his feelings about the hike. He told us that he'd been thinking that the ups and downs of the hike were a lot like life's challenges and that we just needed to keep hiking to overcome difficulties we faced. One of the members in our Stake Young Men's presidency asked me after the meeting if we talked about that on the hike and I had to say that the adult leaders had nothing to do with planting that idea in his head. His thoughts and conclusions were totally his own.
It was good to hear that one of the youth gained something more than a requirement for a merit badge. It caused me to think that as a leader of young men I should be more diligent in looking for opportunities to plant those seeds. In this case, however, it was not necessary. The seed was planted and bore fruit with no encouragement other than the whisperings of the Spirit.
Although I should have learned by now, I'm always surprised by the thoughtful nature and spiritual sensitivity of our youth. It helps me realize that I need to look beyond the weekly problems with discipline and attention span during our Scout activity and look at our small group of 12 & 13 year old boys through the eyes of the Lord, who knows the potential and glorious destiny of our youth far better than I.