Friday, September 29, 2006

Lesson of a Lifetime

Last year, my son went on the "trip of a lifetime" with his Boy Scout Troop. About a dozen of the older boys and leaders went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for two weeks and 70 miles of backpacking in the wilderness. The photos above are some of the many he took (pretty good for a 17 yo, huh?) - but I particularly want you to pay attention to the last photo.

They trekked from elevations of 6,700 ft up to 12,415 ft. All they had was what they carried on their backs - a tent, water and freeze dried rations. They had to carry all their trash out. Outdoor latrines were the norm. They had to beware of wild bears and snakes - as well as some other critters, the identities of which he thought it best not to share with me. None of this deterred him.

At one point, they were at the top of a gravelly and very steep slope, much like in the last photo. Here, I am going to cheat a little and use his words from a college essay to tell the story:

"I found out that we would be climbing down 1000 feet in only 1/8 of a mile. If this sharp decline didn’t scare me enough, the guide told us that this section of the trail caused lots of major injuries. I was so scared I thought I was going to die. I knew that with the 70 lb. pack on my back, one slip would have me rolling down the mountain like an avalanche. When we finally got to the spot where we would descend, my legs started to feel like jelly. I realized that I had two choices. I could let my fear keep me up there and hold up my crew, or I could overcome my fear and climb down the mountain. The descent really wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. Sure it was steep and there were many loose rocks, but there were also many trees to grab onto in case you felt like you were going to fall. From the experience of Philmont I have learned that I could overcome my fear."

I think this was a wise lesson to learn, at 17 - or any age.


DaveM said...

Sounds a great trip and one he will remember in more ways than one. There certainly are some big climbs, events like this are fantastic for younsters. Hats off to those who give up their time to organise and supervise them.

Kat Campbell said...

What a character building opportunity! Your son is good photographer and an eloquent writer. Way to mother Sunflower!

Ordinary Janet said...

Beautiful scenery and it was indeed a good lesson to learn that he'll remember.

Dr.John said...

Sounds like you have a great son.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thank you friends, I really appreciate you taking the time to stop. So many blogs, so little time.

Dr. John, he is great, I am so very proud of him. He is my child with dyslexia, fine motor problems and other disabilities. Everything has always been a struggle for him, but I think that has served to strengthen him.

Dave, when he got back from the trip, he hated it - it had been cold and rainy and he was plenty sore. But now he looks back and remembers it as a great trip - bonding with friends, getting through adversity, facing the challenges. Looking through the lens of time, he has nothing but fond memories.

Kat - I think both my children have grown up as decent humans DESPITE their mother! Writing is so very difficult for him - but when he writes from the heart, he can't go wrong. A good editor can always take care of those pesky grammar/spelling problems!

Yes, Janet, I was surprised at the many fine photos he shot. He is my child that wants nothing to do with art, claims he has no creativity - but I think that is just to buck mom, who loves art ;-)

Velvet Sacks said...

Your son's words and photos are beautiful. He must get that from you.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Thank you for sharing this. Wise words from an exceptional young man who has had his share of struggles. Is he the one off at college now? You must miss him like crazy. My 18 year old is a senior and looking at schools - I am dreading the hole he will leave behind as he heads to college next year.
My younger son (age 7) shares some of the same disabilities as your son. It is good to know that with the grace of God and the love of Mom, they make it through!
Thanks again.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thank you Velvet - he has his various disabilities, but God has granted him an incredible mind. He far surpasses me, I can't take any credit. The way he thinks is so "out of the box," he constantly astounds me. I'll have to write more about him.

Rev. Dr. - thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, I'm very glad he learned that an imagined fear is usually worse than the reality - and that there are always "many trees to grab onto," to help us along the way.

He is so good at learning from the world around him - I think it is one of the ways he compensates for his areas of lesser talent. I do miss him very much - and it has hit me doubly hard, as now he and my daughter are both away and I am faced with my empty nest.

patsy said...

i found your blog very interesting. this is the first time i have come by and i read every artical.

patsy said...

i found your blog very interesting. this is the first time i have come by and i read every artical.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Hi Patsy, thanks so very much for stopping by and for taking the time to read everything. I'm still the "new kid" on the block.

Love your sunflowers - and the chickens!

Heimdallr said...

I loved this post sunflower. Your son sounds like a great guy with his head firmly o his shoulders. Beautiful photos too.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks Sandy - my now 18 year old son of this post - is the selfsame 18 month old that Tasha "bit." He is now in college and doing great - I am so very proud of everything he has accomplished.

Amazing how quick they grow.