"Always be Prepared" - Preparedness Lessons from the Boy Scouts
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to join my nephew’s Scout troop on a camping outing.
The weather in the inland Northwest can be unpredictable this time of year. But that was the purpose of this trip – to learn to withstand the elements.
Boy, were we sure tested.
Not five minutes after setting off on the trail, loaded with our gear, the wind began to pick up. Then came the rain, with air temps in the mid-40s at midday.
Once our group made it to the campsite, we all knew we needed to quickly set up shelter and get a fire going.
At first, everyone was dashing in all directions, accomplishing little. Let this be a lesson – in trying times, chaos begets chaos. It’s best to get a grip, stay calm, communicate and work together.
The Troop leader halted everyone and made them gather round. We split the group by our two priorities: shelter and fire. My nephew and I were in the group responsible for building the fire.
Even under the canopy and density of the forest, the wind howled. And the rain drove right through it. Half of our group dug out the fire pit a little, to shield the tinder from the wind, slightly. The rest of us searched for the driest wood we could find.
I was of course carrying plenty of backup fire-starting gear, but the point of this outing was to learn how to get this fire going with nothing beyond a lighter and matches. I forgot how difficult this task was without the survival gear I depend on.
I was struck at this moment to ponder human history. It took us thousands of years to learn to control fire, and I found it hard, after this experience to say we’ve mastered it. It makes you think about newer technologies we claim to have under control – like our electrical grid or water infrastructures.
"Nooo! So close." As I was daydreaming, the boys had attempted to light the fire for the first time. The wood they shaved from a stick had caught, just briefly, but was clearly still too wet. I encouraged them to shave more wood, but only keep the shavings from closest to the center of the stick. This time, the fire caught. Then, they smothered it with a pile of more of the wet shavings.
The boys looked at me with a look that acknowledged their mistake. They began again.
This third time, they were able to slowly coax the fire larger and larger. Then we set off to collect more wood.
We split the larger pieces the best we could and laid them next to the fire with the cut side exposed to the flames. This would help dry the fuel out before we added it to the coals.
Just as we finished up, the "shelter crew" also finished. It was time to roast some weenies and cook beans in the can over the coals, just like I did as a Boy Scout. Though I thought I remembered better weather. Just as I thought this, the rain stopped, and a silence fell over the woods. Then the birds began to sing and the sun began to peek out.
I believe God was rewarding us for our good work, as a team, as mentors and mentees. It was a spectacular moment.
Ultimately, this outing has two solid lessons we should all take to heart in our preparedness journeys.
First, is a version of our motto "you can never be overprepared." If for some reason the boys and I failed to get a fire going, I had a few backup plans that would have gotten the job done. Myself and the rest of the My Patriot Supply advisors rigorously test our products before we sell them. So, they have to be good enough for our own bug-out bags, camping kits and so on. And remember: redundancy is key – keep a plan b, c, and d.
Second, it’s important to practice survival skills without all our fancy gear. Mankind has been able to survive thousands of years without the technology we’ve created in the last few hundred. Many disasters could set back the clocks in an instant, so it’s important to know and practice these skills in a primitive fashion. This doesn’t have to be a chore. Despite the rain and wind, those Boy Scouts and I enjoyed every minute of the challenge – especially the rewards that came after. If you practice similarly, you will be rewarded both in the moment and when you need those skills the most – in a true survival scenario.
I hope this story and the lessons therein have found you well this weekend.
If you need advice about any step in your preparedness journey, our advisors are standing by. Just call 866.229.0927 9am - 9pm EST, Mon – Sat, and we’ll be happy to help.
Stay alert and safe out there, friends! And remember to practice!
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply