By Brad Harris
Aug 09, 2015

A Boy and a Mountain

Twenty years ago I climbed Mt. Timpanogos for the first and only time in my life. I was forty-five and in the best shape of my life. The climb was more grueling than any marathon I had run, but an adventure I’ll never forget. That is why I had to share this post from Brad’s Blog. He wrote:

A mother in Saratoga Springs, Utah shared this story with me [Brad Harris]:“Small things can change a young mans life. Small things like an 11,752 ft. high mountain and some good men.

My 12 year old son Todd hiked Mt. Timpanogos last month, all the way to the top, and back down again. It was hard!!

The day started early. We got them ready and out the door. It had been an ugly weather week with rain every afternoon and most mornings. Our view of Mount Timpanogos from home looked socked in with dreary grey clouds. They left at 7:00 am—five boys and five leaders. The hike was long and hard. Let me tell you, it would have been mighty easy to say, “Let’s all head back. We’ll do this again another time,” but they didn’t. They took their entire Saturday to help my son summit a mountain.

TimpBoysIt was perhaps the most demanding physical exertion that he has ever asked of his body and this kid isn’t a weakling; he usually swam one to two hours a day, every week, but he hadn’t built up his hiking legs, and it was hard for him. There was weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (literally). He wanted to quit. At the top, they made a shelter out of ponchos. He truly felt like he couldn’t make it back down the mountain. His legs were like Jello. He was cold.

But here’s the beauty and the lesson of the day: my son did something monumentally difficult. In this day of ease and plenty, we rarely ask extremely difficult things of our bodies or minds. Scouting asks these things. And it is in those difficulties that we find out who we are and what we are capable of. One day, perhaps six years from now on the streets of Chicago or in the jungles of Brazil, or on a path in China, Todd will feel like he can’t possibly go on. His legs, or his heart, will be wobbling and threatening to buckle. He will feel freezing in body, or in spirit, or both. He will want to quit. But he will remember that he hiked Mount Timpanogos. He will remember that Brother Mason and Brother Skinner and his dad believe in him. He will remember that they stood beside him while he did something that felt impossible. When he is an 18 year old serving a mission, or a young father struggling to find his way in the world, or a middle-aged man feeling lost and in a new place, he will remember that summit. And he will pick himself up and keep going. Because he will know that he can. He has done it before. He can do it again.

Scouting at its heart isn’t about badges and lists and checkmarks. It isn’t about sewing on patches or paying registration fees. It isn’t about deadlines and details. It is about my son. It is about making him a man who knows he can climb mountains, because there are mountains ahead.

Darryl head BW

Contributing: Bradley D. Harris | Brigham Young University.  He has taught Scouting education at BYU and is currently drector of the non-profit management minor and the Nonprofit Leadership certification program at BYU. He is the author of Trails to TestimonyHis purpose is to train students to become leaders in the nonprofit and fundraising sectors

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 thoughts on “A Boy and a Mountain

  1. AvatarKen Cluff

    I have been promoting Operation “ON TARGET” for 30 plus years and this type of experience I have witnessed time and time again. Mountain Peak experiences are a wonderful method to learn and teach challenges in our youth and ourselves. I need to remember this story and print it someday in one of my Varsity Vision newsletters. Thanks for sharing.

    Ken Cluff

  2. AvatarStephanie

    I shared this story of my son with Brad. Thanks for re-sharing it with your audience. I love the scouting program and the way it helps our boys become men.

  3. AvatarCraig Palmer

    Darryl, I enjoyed the article, having climbed Timpanogas a few times myself. Another hard task that Scouts have participated in is 50/20 hikes. I enjoyed Elder Larry M. Gibson’s talk in April conference (2015) . In it he refers to the 50/20 event that he and his 2 sons successfully but painfully finished. All of those type of events take you to a point where you have to make a determined decision. Those decisions are not unlike many that have to be made as boys become men and make their way through life.
    Scouting provides that. What a bargain.

  4. AvatarPei99

    Great story. Thanks for sharing. Scouting is such a great training ground for not only missions but life. Everyone will have to face hard times. It’s great to learn young that you can do hard things.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.