My first couple of days were very hard trying to mesh strong personalities in my patrol. There were eight men and two women in the patrol. They were strong, strong men who did not want to be in the “Bobwhite” patrol and didn’t seem too thrilled to about having women in their patrol (especially when we didn’t really know too much about Scouting and ummm… camping).
We were each assigned different roles in our patrol during our training. Three days into the training, I was assigned to be the Patrol leader. We were at Camp Makualla in Oregon—a very spread out camp with lots of hills.
Our campsite was at the top of a hillside, about a mile and a half from the dining hall, which is where our patrol leaders council meeting was held. This was the last meeting before our break for the week.
The meeting ran longer than expected and we were told to return to our individual patrol campsites and tell our patrol to get the tents down, break down our kitchens and have them out to the road by 5:15 pm where a truck would pick up the items. If we didn’t get them out to the road in time, we would have to pack them down the hill, which would have taken each of us several trips. The meeting ended at 4:30 and I was panicked about time.
I have had seven back fusions and live with chronic pain shooting through my left hip, leg and back. I really had no business being there with my health situation but I went to the training trying to improve my understanding of getting a troop organized and running well.
After 3 days of camping and intense training, I was exhausted, in pain and feeling a little low because we still hadn’t meshed as a patrol. I was so worried about my fellow patrol members being so ticked about the news I was about to bring them and how it would be received. I had my backpack on and had several binders and cumbersome items in my arms to take back to my patrol members.
I felt intense pressure as I began my brisk walk/half jog back to the campsite. I did not want to disappoint my patrol. About halfway up the hill about 15 minutes into the walk back, the pain was so intense I had tears biting at my eyes. I knew I wasn’t going to make it back in time but I pushed on.
The hill became a mountain to me and the tears started freely running down my cheeks. I finally had to stop and plead with my Heavenly Father to help me. I knelt down and poured my soul out to Him. Please help me to help my patrol members. Please inspire one of them to start breaking down the campsite. (This was something we hadn’t even talked about needing to be done, knowing we were coming back in 4 days.) Please help me to have the strength and courage to continue on this trek.
I arose and started on the path again. It is hard to explain on paper what happened next but …I felt someone’s help lifting me and carrying my load. I turned to see who had to come to my aid …there was a bright light and a quiet stirring in my heart “I am here”. I felt His presence aiding me and helping me along road.
The pain subsided and a quicker step, I made it back to camp by 4:55—I know, not great time, but definitely great time for my health and pain level. “Twenty minutes to break camp,” I thought as I entered the campsite.
Lo and behold, the kitchen was broken down and three of the tents were down with two more to go. The Spirit spoke to the fellow Scouter, who I thought disliked me the most. He said they were all sitting there, talking about assignments when we came back in two weeks, and it hit him: “What if a storm comes during the next four days? We better be prepared and take our campsite down.”
Even though nobody mentioned that we were suppose to, he thought we would just come early and get it all set up on our return. When I told him the assignment, he just smiled and said “I had a feeling.”
We got everything out to the road in time and then packed our personal items and started heading to our cars. On the trek to our cars, I opened up and told them all what had happened to me. They were quiet and respectful and seemed to nod in agreement that something had changed for all of us. Working together so hard and pulling our weight in our various chores really helped us gel together. When we returned for the second portion of our training, we were strong and united.
One of the best experiences of my Scouting life!
Author: Lizbeth Caldwell | Silver Beaver and Scouting mom with grown Scouts. Discovered the value of Scouting as a Primary President in Oregon.