On a campout that we used as a hiking/backpacking campout (try to have them every once in a while), was held out at our property. Scouts were only allowed to bring what they could carry in the packs along with scout camping gear and food. One of the main requirements were to bring fishing string and some type of hook to fish in the tank...no fishing poles allowed and they had to catch their bait. Scouts met at the scout hut with packs ready to hike. Scouts had to travel HWY 97 going towards Floresville so it was decided that scouts would ride until they hit the cut off road, vehicles would turn off, stop and let scouts gear up with their packs. Once off the main road, vehicles pulled to the side of the road in the grass and stopped. We had a few that were questionable as to whether they could make the three or four mile hike to the property, but all had to at least try. As scouts geared up with packs, an adult in a vehicle went on ahead to stop at a break point for any scouts that could not make it all the way (did have a few scouts that were not used to much physical work) so that there would not be any harm to scouts along the way.
Scouts started to hike along the side of the road with more experienced scouts leading and following…..when hiking, you hike as fast as the slowest person, no matter how fast they can walk/hike….you leave no scout behind no matter what. With experienced scouts leading and following, more inexperienced scouts are in the middle and can be watched for not being able to carry their load, fatigue from walking/heat/exhaustion/cold, etc. Our scoutmaster and a couple of other adults hiked with them along the way. Scouts reached the property okay but with a couple just barely making it in. It seems like an easy three or four mile hike but those with a weaker physical nature and not being used to doing so but toughed it out and made it all the way with very little complaining. Once scouts reached the property, all set up camp, close to the top of the property. Friday night is always brown bag…bring your own lunch because the troop does not cook on Friday night due to trying to get camp set up, especially if the troop is traveling a great distance. Scouts got camp set up and all were sitting around visiting around the fire and enjoying the warmth. Wasn’t long before we heard chaos going on in a tent close to us and the fire and had to go check it out…seems the scouts didn’t close up their tent screen/fly and wound up with a scorpion in their tent that they had captured in a box. Scouts were really excited about the “nature of it all” and had to show other scouts what they had and discussed it. Scouts released the scorpion back to nature about a half an hour later. All settled down for the night. The next morning all got up and cooked breakfast (of course in patrols) and cleaned up. Towards lunch, all had to gear down and pack every thing up.
The plan was to hike to the back of the property to camp there for the evening…just to give the scouts the chance to feel the move over night. Scouts hiked to the back of the property to the open field and continued to set up camp for lunch. After lunch, all scouts were to pull out what they brought to fish with. Scouts had to strip a strong branch of some sort to fish with. Several did not bring fishing string and thought that if they did not have any, they were off the hook….wrong…they didn’t know me very well because I came prepared (even though I live on the property), I had a couple of reels of fishing line with me. Scouts had to decide how much line they needed and how to affix it to their “pole”. Each scout was to catch at least one fish, if possible All scouts were excited about catching fish but had a couple that just were really reluctant to try. At last, the very last scout that just knew he couldn’t catch a fish and there was no reason for him to try…he didn’t bring anything to fish with, etc…met his match….me... My response was come with me to the tank (he argued all the way…I can’t do it).
I told the scout, how about I do it first, get a branch, hook up the fishing line, place my hook and bait on it and catch a fish….his response was “you can’t do it by yourself”. I proceeded to get my own limb and string my fishing line on it, tie on my hook on it and then the bait. Within two minutes of casting in my fishing line, I yielded quite a good size catfish…the scout was in awe that I could bring in the catfish with very little equipment and be able to take the fish off myself. As I visited with the scout, I did not want to make him feel inadequate or to put him down but to reassure him that he may not do it perfectly but he could take comfort in trying…so he decided to try and I handed him the pole that I had made. I told him here, try my pole and here is a little bait. I stood with him on the bank while he worked on catching a fish. It took him a while but all of a sudden, a fish bit on the bait, he pulled on the “pole” just right and he caught a fish…needless to say quite a few scouters were on the bank watching him pull in his fish giving him words of encouragement. It wasn’t about putting the scout down because he felt he couldn’t do it, it was about giving him some confidence to feel like he could at least try.
Once he pulled in his catfish, he was so excited and all scouts were congratulating him on his catch… and he re-baited and threw it back in just to catch another fish. It’s not about putting a scout down because he thinks he can’t do something…it’s about working with him to the best he can do to help him realize that at least he can try and accomplish with the best results that “he” can do. A couple of scouts fished for the rest of the afternoon having a great time. Needless to say, we had quite a fish fry for supper. Scouts learned how to clean their fish and cook it. One scout was so excited about making his own pole and bring the bare necessity of fishing gear that he actually brought a couple of safety pins to use for hooks instead of using actual hooks. The scout fished most of the afternoon, catching grasshoppers as bait and actually caught the most fish. All settled down for the evening around a campfire telling stories and chatting. During the night, the troop held up to their names as the “rainmakers” as the storms moved in. It rained pretty hard most of the night. As Sunday morning rolled around and storms subsided, scouts geared down equipment and tents. It was a good lesson for all to realize that they can do a whole lot with a little bit of nothing…all they have to do is think about what they need to do. Scouts hiked out to the top of the property and gathered together to decide about hiking back out and keeping every one together. Scouts started their hike back out to the main road till they met the main hwy—hwy 97. At that point all put their packs into vehicles and traveled back to the scout hut.