It’s a tough thing to see yourself replaced in the eyes of your boys, but I knew eventually it would have to happen (LOL!). See, I’ve been a scout leader now for fifteen years, and for many of those years, I was the Young Turk with the wild ideas and the unique experiences and the different approach to things. I had the boys in my thrall for many years, and I honestly relished being in that position.
This past weekend, I bowed to the inevitable and watched my light get eclipsed by another younger leader who had the ability of holding all the boys (including my own son) in the palm of his hand. On Friday night, the boys and I, a couple of parents, and the new Webelos Leader, Andrew, set off on a hike from Helen Drive at the back entrance of Junipero Serra Park up to the top of the hill, one of our favorite camping areas called Iris Point. Junipero Serra is an interesting little place. It’s a patch of Eucalyptus, Oak and Buckeye forest in the middle of San Bruno. Up on Iris Point, there’s a camping area where, on three sides, you can see city lights and the San Francisco Bay all the way out to the East bay. It’s quite a view, and a nice little place to “get away from it all” without really having to get away.
The boys had a simple task this outing... well, somewhat :). They had to hike into the park, hike up the hill, set up camp, make dinner, sleep the night, break camp, make breakfast, hike the width and breadth of the park's trails with their gear on their backs, and make their way back to the cars. Anything they chose to bring, had to be packed in themselves and then packed back out. If they didn’t have it, they’d have to do without it. It was a case of every man for himself, packing as though he was the only one out there. To that end they did great, and I’m proud of all the boys for the work and preparations they made. To add to the fun, the boys invited Andrew and the Webelos scouts along for the weekend. Andrew had a few additional tricks up his sleeve to show the boys... in addition to a lot of backpacking and rock climbing knowledge and additional scouting skills (the bed he made for one of the boys out of a hammock and a tarp was nothing short of ingenious :) ), he brought along a small arsenal of machete’s, throwing knives, bullwhips, a boomerang and a llama hair sling that he’d made and used as a missionary in Peru (he told the boys of a number of times he had to use the sling to fend off feral dogs that would sometimes chase him and his companion down… and he’d smile from ear to ear as he described this, too (LOL!) ). Needless to say, the boys were more than delighted to learn how to use the bounty of extra stuff he was willing to shoulder in :).
As we set up all of our gear and camp sites, and had our dinner for the night, Andrew went and set up some wooden blocks a small ways from the camping area and created a throwing range for the boys. As I’d been up since 4:00 AM that morning, I decided I’d call it an early night. As I lay in my tent, I heard for the next couple of hours the tell tale “thock, thock, plink, thock” and the shouts of laughter and cheering to show that those boys were having the time of their lives (LOL!). With that, I drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, as we all gathered our gear together, made breakfast, and set of on a day’s worth of hiking, each of us got an additional chance to use the throwing knives and hurl pinecones with the sling until our arms couldn’t take it anymore. As we all laughed and tried our hand at the sling, and I watched those boys look in awe and admiration at Andrew, I chuckled a little and took my position at the rear of the company, letting Andrew take the lead. I remembered my first feeling about a dozen or so years earlier, when I was the young buck that was handed the lead of a group of Scouts, and how the older leaders let me lead the charge with the boys, the “new Sherriff in town”, so to speak. Now it’s my turn to hand over the reins to another younger leader, perhaps a little more in tune with my guys. I know they still like me, and I expect we’ll still have plenty of adventures ahead of us (well, we will if I have anything to say about it), but I know that there are younger leaders that are coming up that will capture their attention, and I’m alright with that :) ).