I just got back from our first camping trip of the year. It went pretty well, overall.
It was originally scheduled to happen in February, but we cancelled it due to extreme cold (-30º). We rescheduled for March, but it was a day I couldn't go. My understanding was that the other advisor and a parent were going to take them, but it didn't happen. We had already planned this one for April and it worked.
There was a question about whether or not we would be able to do this one because of a track meet. Some of the boys thought it would be best to reschedule. However, we had one young man who was determined not to reschedule again. He had one requirement left for his Venturing Gold award, and this camp would do it. He insisted that we go, and convinced the others to go along.
We arranged to go to a local state park and camp in the campground. We chose that location because it was the closest place we could think of to go camping and would be the shortest bike ride. Yep, part of the plan was to ride bicycles to the camp.
The Advisor and I took the camping trailer and all our gear up to the park earlier in the day, then we all met at the church to start our ride. We ended up with four young men. It took us about an hour to ride the 7 miles into the park. The Bishop even joined us on his motorcycle.
When we got into camp, they young men started in on pitching the tent and the Bishop started making dinner. I wish he hadn't. My plan was to let the young men do it all. And I believe they would have, but the Bishop decided that he didn't want to wait around for them to do it. He wasn't as okay with going hungry as I was. We had some really good food, but I think we missed a chance to teach the boys an important lesson.
We also had a couple of special guests come and talk to us about their missions; one in New Zealand and one in Japan. One of the young men invited them as a part of another Venturing award. It worked really well.
We tried to do an ethical controversy after that, but it was getting late and we had too many adults and not enough youth. The adults dominated the discussion and didn't follow the rules. It wasn't the most successful one we've done.
The bishop and our special guests went home last night leaving the four young men and two advisors to stay the night. It got a little cold, but the weather was as perfect as we could have hoped for a camp in April.
I got up around 6:30 this morning, expecting to be the first one up. To my surprise, two of the young men were already up and had a fire going. They were also starting to get breakfast ready. This is exactly what I was hoping would happen. I knew these young men were capable of leading and taking care of all these jobs, but I don't think they've ever been given a chance to do it. They're used to having adults take care of everything and, I think, they're usually content to let them.
We had a great breakfast of pancakes and sausage and were finished with breakfast by 7:30. We had the entire camp cleaned up and packed back into the trailer by 8:00. I didn't think I would ever see that happen. The last camp I took them on we were struggling to get breakfast by 8:00. Of course, they had a little more motivation. They were all going on a "day-date" for prom today. They needed to get back and shower.
Overall it was a good experience. The young men stepped up and took the lead on the planning and work. I think they just needed a chance to lead without a well-meaning adult stepping in and doing it for them. My hope is that this success story will show them that they are capable of doing it themselves and will motivate them to lead more often. And that's how it should be.