By Darryl Alder
May 07, 2017

Woolen Socks and the Holy Ghost

Looking back it was a pretty miserable campout, but I was determined to do my part in offering our Scouts a bit of privation. After reading Jarom Shaver’s “Does Scouting Keep Boys on Missions?” in March, I wanted to test his thesis. 

Now, ours is troop that camps nearly every month. Matt Johnson, our Scoutmaster, is great with our boys. His Quorum Presidency had agreed this campout would be at Maple Dell to perform service, but it had rained or snowed nearly all day at camp.

As usual we packed and met at the church. The weather in town was mild, so many of the boys only had on jackets and tennis shoes, this despite my warnings about footwear, coats and hats.  But, I really didn’t think much of it until we stopped at camp. 

Our designated campsite was far too muddy to get into, so we selected something on the edge of the meadow, known as the bowl. The rain had stopped, but the ground had a skiff of snow cover and every blade of mountain grass had droplets of rain hanging from their blades. 

The Scouts, of course, were excited to be at camp, and jumped from the cars to search for the best tent sites. In minutes their feet were soaked and cold. Eventually, the Teacher’s quorum advisor and I got a fire going and appreciative boys gathered there in between camp set up and dinner preparations.

The mood was okay, but most of the boys were really quite uncomfortable. As we ate dinner, some toasted tennis shoes on sticks near the fire, while their socked feet warmed a bit.

I had not come prepared to stay and pulled out after dark, but they had a dutch oven full of Krispy Kreme donut bread pudding on the fire and were enjoying each other’s company. As they sat around the fire, the Scoutmaster skillfully led a discussion about why we camp. He asked each Scout why they had come to camp, then he said that he came to be near God in nature. They ate the warm and gooey pudding and headed to bed.

I awoke with a start at five am with a prompting to take them all woolen socks. I dressed and headed toward camp. A Walmart along the way offered the exact number of socks for every Scout and leader.

It was gratifying to see them slip into warm dry socks, but I worried that I had cut their opportunity for privation short. Still they were plenty cold and toughed out chilling night that had dropped to 23° F.

They cooked a endless breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes. It was good to see the quorums working alongside each other. As they prepared for their service project, I headed home, never thinking of those socks again.

Two Sunday’s later, at Fast and Testimony meeting, the Deacon’s Quorum President stood to tell the tale of the woolen socks, only he added his own reflection. He said that the warmth he felt from the socks, made him think of how the Holy Ghost comforts and warms him.

Those socks …they became priceless at that moment!

Darryl Thumbnail
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA is his wards Scout Committee Chair.


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