Survival of the Fittest

Most young men I’ve known throughout my life who are involved in Boy Scouts tend to push their luck by putting off their Eagle Scout award until the last minute.

I’ve known guys who finish their Eagle project (the final requirement before receiving your Eagle) the day before their 18th birthday and have the final award ceremony on their birthday.

I’m not going to comment on the politics of the Boy Scouts or their stance on some of the current hot topics. Instead, I’m going to explain to you the most valuable thing I learned from my experience in Boy Scouts.

I got my Eagle just as I was turning 15. That was the same summer I got my driver’s license. That’s how we roll in Montana.

Since I was still under 3 years from leaving the troop, I had some time to work on my “scoutsy” skills. For me, those included camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, survival, whittling, and anything else that would get me outdoors.

By the time I hit the end of the road with scouts I could fit all the gear I needed to survive for 3 or 4 days in the “wild” into a film canister. Here’s a picture for those of you too young to know what that is:

This canister is a little bit bigger around than a quarter and could fit $3 or so. They’re not big, but I could get everything in there I needed.

Here’s what I got down to: a 15 foot fishing line, 3 fishing hooks, 5 water-proof matches, a 2 foot wire saw with finger loops, and 10 chlorine tablets to purify any water I needed.

I could fish for my food, start a fire to keep warm at night, saw off branches to make a lean-to for shelter, drink clean water and sleep anywhere I wanted.

This packet kept me alive for 3 to 4 days at a time.

I’m now a father of 3 amazing girls, ages 8, 6 and 2. I’m married to an amazingly beautiful woman who I love to pamper.

Even taking these circumstances into consideration, I was appalled at how much “stuff” we needed for 1 (ONE) night of camping at the ward camp out a few weeks ago.

This is my new camping reality:

2 ipods

2 cell phones

1 nook reader

4 foam mats

1 air mattress

1 gigantic tent

3 flash lights

1 fluorescent lantern

3 backpacks

1 duffell bag

4 camp chairs

1 camp table

4 frisbees

8 pairs of shoes

More clothes than we could possibly use in the less than 24 hours we were there

8 hotdogs

8 hotdog buns

2 gallons of water

A cooler full of grapes, milk, cheese, soda and capri-suns

A bag of Doritos

6 pillows

5 or 6 pairs of sun glasses

3 sippy cups

5 roasting skewers

All of that fit into our car along with 5 people and 3 car seats. We almost pulled a Romney and tied the dog carrier to the top for our lab and beagle.

I didn’t get to go fishing. The only hiking I did was with my oldest who didn’t want the trees to touch her as we walked by the brush along the river. I slept on an air mattress with foam mats on top of it. When nature called, I sauntered over to the fully plumbed restrooms and answered. I then washed my hands with the foamy kind of soap and rinsed them with hot water.

We were basically at an outdoor hotel.

I guess that will be my camping reality for the foreseeable future.

The one bright “scoutsy” spot for the whole weekend? I only used 1 match and had a fire the whole time.

I still got it!



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