On this blog I usually talk about fatherhood. Today I want a chance to talk about brotherhood and breaking down expectations.
This past weekend I was one of the leaders for Troop 327's camping trip to Camp Alpine in New Jersey. The trip was a make up of a trip that we had to cancel because of a blizzard a month earlier. We were going to do some hiking, get camping requirements out of the way and just have a good time. Little did we know that a lot of our boys would do some growing up.
We had all our regular campers and our two newest scouts. These new scouts, twin brothers who had found us by calling the local council. The boys are both developmentally disabled. But they have a strong spirit and have no quit in them. We took all of the boys on a five mile hike. It was complicated by several inches of freshly fallen snow. The brothers fell to the back of the pack, where me and another adult helped them along. We encouraged them when they fell.
As we made it to the main part of our hike (along Camp Alpine's Red Dot trail) I made a decision. I called over a couple of boys, they gave me a "I didn't do it look". I assured them they weren't in trouble. I said look at these two guys I want you to make sure they stay in front of you until we get back to camp. It was a big responsibility for two scouts who have not really embraced that part of the scouting program. I knew that they had it within them. And as we trekked through the back country the brothers were being encouraged by a new set of brothers.
These two boys who would normally be considered class clown types stayed with the brothers as we lost the trail and had to traverse some really difficult back country. I heard no complaints from any of the four. We eventfully made it back to camp and all of the boys went out of their way to help these brothers. But not in a condescending way. Which for rambunctious teenage boys is a lot to ask. They were warm and caring. And made them feel like full members of the team.
Later in the evening one of the brothers was scared of the sparks flying off the bonfire our senior scouts had built for a flag retirement ceremony. Other scouts waved him over and one put his arm around his shoulder. Kind of saying don't worry you are safe.
There were things the brothers are still incapable of doing, but our junior leaders knew not to ride them and made sure they were assigned tasks that they could succeed at. When we returned home they ran to their mom, who you could see was both happy to see them to hear about their weekend and relieved they made it back ok. She thanked our Scoutmaster for watching out for them and helping them to be a part of something while learning independence. As they left one of the brothers turned to our scoutmaster gave him a high five and thanked him for taking him on an adventure.