I've wanted to post about this for a couple days now, I just haven't been sure how to do it.
We took our Venturing Crew on a camp/river trip last weekend. We've been planning this trip for months. We floated down the Green river from Flaming Gorge Dam to Little Hole. It is a very popular spot, both for rafters and fishermen.
We went up on Thursday evening and set up camp. I finally got my wish to have the young men do all the cooking, except for the peach cobbler they requested from me. (Of course, cooking is really easy when you do a can of beef stew for dinner, cold cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch.)
We spent most of the day on Friday rafting the river. That evening, the boys cooked a fantastic dinner of Dutch oven chicken and potatoes, cornbread, and chocolate cherry cobbler. Later, we sat around the campfire and shared stories. Scary stories, jokes, even a few true stories from leaders' LDS missions.
We got up Saturday morning and headed back to town. It was a pretty good trip. Mostly.
The troubles were with the rafting. Now, this section of the river does not have any really serious rapids. It's pretty tame, actually. Which means that the fun thing to do along the way is to have a water fight. Everybody knew going in that we would get wet. That was the plan. Everyone knew it.
We had one young man, however, who didn't want to get wet. At all. "Why can't we just casually float down the river and enjoy the scenery?" he asked. Well, after a while the water fights stopped and we did just that. I really think the other guys were trying to be nice and gave a little to make his trip more enjoyable.
As far as I could tell, though, he didn't even like the casual trip. He didn't seem to be enjoying the scenery. He just complained. He didn't even want to come, he said, but his mom made him. He would rather be at home playing video games. "Why is it that we can have a water fight where we could get hypothermia and die but we can't have a paintball fight?" It was pretty tiring.
After we finished the first run we ate lunch and went back for a second run. This time, the other guys were going to have a water fight. That's what they came for. They gave in on the first run, but not this one. Sure enough, we got wet. And we heard complaints from the one young man the entire time, with one exception.
At one point, we came up on another rafting party, this one containing young women. I saw our complainer, who didn't want to get wet, sitting up on the side of the raft with his leg dangling in the water. Later that evening as we were going to bed, I overheard one of the other boys ask this young man if he had any fun. The answer was no. The first boy persisted, saying he thought it looked like he was having fun. "I was just pretending to have fun because of the girls. I was really thinking that I'd rather be home playing [some stupid video game]."
This just confirmed in my mind what I suspected the whole time. I think if he had just been willing to loosen up and join in that he would have had the time of his life. But he refused.
What do you do with a young man who refuses to be a part of the group? Someone who is so determined NOT to enjoy the activity that he refuses to let himself have fun? What can you do?
But that seems to be pretty typical with this young man. He moved into the ward a few months ago, so he doesn't have the same connection with the others that they all have. Naturally, he is having a hard time fitting in. He seems to want to fit in, but only if everyone else bends to fit in with him. He is so far unwilling to give even an inch in order to belong. And I think it's having a negative effect on the others. Toward the end of the second river run, one of the other boys told me they thought it would be more fun. Apparently, a single poor attitude dampened the entire trip.
I don't want to be angry or upset with this young man. I know he has different interests from the others. But I see everyone else trying, at least a little, to include him. I don't see that from him. And I don't know what to do about it.