Philmont Trek Brings Thankfulness

image

This post was written by the CAC Scout Executive, Patrick Sterrett. 

My latest Scouting adventure helped me hit the pause button. I realized just how blessed I am to have such a great family. We all have our health to enjoy such awesome adventures together in Scouting.

In 2008, I took the opportunity to do a Philmont trek with my oldest son and the council contingent.  As if that couldn’t get better, on June 30, 2014, I found myself on a bus heading out of Philmont to be dropped in the middle of nowhere.  This time, my oldest son was our trek ranger, my middle son was our crew leader, and my youngest was also part of the nine boy/three adult crew.  Dreams do come true.

Over the next 11 days and 75 miles we carried 30-50 pound backpacks, climbed numerous peaks, saw a rattlesnake and bear and hiked through three violent hail storms.  I was so proud to watch as the boys from my old troop bonded and took charge.  They shared responsibility every step of the way whether it was cooking, cleaning, navigating our path during the days, setting up camp, purifying water or hanging bear bags.  During the action packed days they challenged themselves mentally and physically shooting guns, climbing spar poles, milking cows, rock climbing and bouldering.

Each night we took time to learn more about Leave No Trace camping as well as discuss our daily devotionals.  Of the nine boys, two are Eagles and I have zero doubts that soon, all will attain that lofty achievement.  I also reflected on the blessings of the two other adult leaders on the trek.  These men are smart, fit, kind and truly exemplify the Scout Oath and Law.  I can’t help but think the boys will benefit throughout their life by having such great role models.

Scouting is truly is an adventure with a purpose.  Nothing else we do brings all that together like the challenge of high adventure.  The trip was a great metaphor of life filled with ups and downs along the trail, but just like life’s journey when we take on big challenges, surround ourselves with great people and have the mindset to persevere and stick together no matter what….the adventure is wonderful and fulfilling.  I hope your Summer was filled with adventure and that you will stop and be thankful to God and the many others that made it possible.

Making Great Strides in the Congo

football+soccer+children+play+xgold

Note: this post was written on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 11:00PM Tenke time.

Today was what I needed. It wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for as I spent most of the morning being frustrated out of my mind. But, tonight I feel that I have finally fully offered what I could; and I did get to have a lot of fun today, too! Once again this morning, plans changed about three times, so I felt lost and blindsided by it all. After my prayers yesterday and today, I woke up feeling so refreshed and ready to run camp. I am a camp staffer at heart, and I think one of the reasons I have felt so lost the past couple of days is because once I’d set my mind on the prospect of being staff again for a week, being taken away from it so often was just disappointing. For those camp staffers who read this, don’t ever take your job for granted. I know that sometimes it seems thankless, but life as a camp staffer is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I miss it all of the time.

Anyway, I felt so energized in the morning with the notion of leading program, but by the time flags were done, I felt that we were just headed down the same dead end again. It didn’t help that nothing was working in my daily Scoutcraft program setup. Nothing was staying together, and even my Firecrafter equipment wasn’t cooperating. The day seemed lost. But God works in mysterious ways. I had a quick prayer, and then David and I just decided to be positive no matter what, and do what we needed to do. I popped a spark soon after that and officially made fire-by-friction possible in the DRC. I was so happy. After a long lunch, we returned to finish program, pass out Bibles, and play soccer!

Scouts got Bibles for having done a Bible study that morning. They are “en français” (in French) and I got one too, so we’ll see how well reading that goes… In program, the Scouts continued to amaze me. Honestly, there is a lot that American Scouts could learn from these guys! The African Scouts are flawless in their skills, knowledge and dedication. I continued to teach fire-by-friction and other fire building skills, which I love, but we also tried to incorporate other fully-rounded Scoutcraft and Firecrafter skills. They made fire with batteries and steel wool, plus a lashed cooking tripod, in just over 5 minutes. These were GOOD fires too. I had them in three groups to make three fires, and then I used the time at the end to explain the importance of the three tenants of Firecrafter: friendship, leadership and service. I talked about the power that comes with being a Scout, and the importance of other knowledge such as first aid, nature and always being prepared. If I could have truly brought Firecrafter to the Congo, I would, because I believe these guys and girls would excel with it (yeah, they have female Scouts, and they are better than the boys at what they do half the time!).

Besides, I feel that Firecrafter is good for everyone anyway. But in the end, I can just keep talking about all of these things and hope they take hold. In fact, David and I did just that tonight. It seems that the best way to get stuff done here is to just do it. So we just made a meeting happen between David, myself, our translator/friend Joseph and the Scout leaders. I had been dying to just have the chance to offer our minds to them so we could show them their ideas and they could ask anything they wanted. I had heard from a few people that the Scout leaders really wanted to talk to us. I wanted to feel like we did what we came to do: show them how we run a jamboree so they can more easily run their own. Our conversation was great. David and I took the initiative, and together, with the Congelese Scouts, as leaders we all made a plan for tomorrow. Whether or not that plan happens, we will see, but I’m content because I got to have conversation with them and answer questions and make a difference. Hopefully I can talk to the SPL tomorrow one-on-one (with translator).

I know these guys are so smart, so I don’t want to push our ways on them. I do want to share though so they can take use them if they want and make the best decisions. As Bob told us, the solution or end product should always belong to the Congolese. We are a different type of missionary because we don’t give free fixes, we give free tools to let them make the fix. I’ve gotten other insights in my head from this trip, but I want to save them for my reflection blog at the end. Our trip truly has been successful. The only stumbles I have encountered have been personally trying to see ALL of the ways we have impacted these people. Sometimes it seems like we are doing nothing and sometimes it seems like we are really making a difference. By the end of our stay I’ll have figured it out.

In the meantime, I’ll take one more minute to describe the real highlight of my day: futbol! Tonight I got to play for the Scout Soccer Championship title with a team of African Scouts. We lost after the second round of penalty kicks, but it was surreal because I got to become part of their team and become one of their friends. Besides, I tore it up on the pitch! I mean, while wearing hiking boots I played over an hour of soccer straight, cleared the soccer ball expertly in what turned out to be a full downfield assist-to-the-assist on our tying goal and scored my penalty kick to the low corner post. My team was awesome! As I’ve said, these Scouts are incredible and fun. Words don’t do them justice. I’ll go to bed tonight happy and praising God and preparing to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to do the community service in Tenke that we planned.

-Mitch and the DRC crew

 

The above image is property of http://timeslive.co.za

A Step In The Right Direction

DSC_2381
Note: this post was written on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:45PM Tenke time.

It’s been a few days since I wrote and it feels like a lifetime. Camp has been running for almost two days. Although we’ve had so much going on that being a part of camp has been a little bit tough. We definitely have done a lot and our plans have certainly changed since we got here, but as Bishop Ntumbo says, “in America we keep time but in Africa we make time.” Tuesday and Wednesday felt like steps in the right direction. We planned for camp with the African leaders, taught them the structure of an American jamboree, saw Tenke and played a lot of games with the Scouts and village kids. We also got to be a part of a very unique church service. There was tons of dancing, singing and drumming. Wednesday the camp opened with a church service in the morning, followed by a tour of the camp.

Along the way, we always attract huge crowds of little African children, who follow and play with us. It’s awesome, because at the same time that we are having a fun playing with kids, we are also recruiting these children into Scouting. They see how much fun Scouts are and they want to join too. Already today, Chief Scout has told us that he is floored by the number of kids who came to him asking if they could join the church and Scouting. It makes me feel SO good. Wednesday afternoon, part of my specialty came in to play: I got to teach a group of Scouts the beginnings of fire by friction. Throughout the week we’ll keep working and refining it, but with that and other Scoutcraft activities in our area, I feel like the camp counselor that I very much miss being. Both of these days felt like a step in the right direction, a glimpse of my calling here and a place where I could feel God leading me.

Today was a little rough, however, but not bad. As part of FPM’s mission to create connections between the big companies and the communities, we went to the Tenke Fungarume Mine. This mine is a colossal feat of engineering and should be a bright shining light for the future of Congo. Honestly, I think it may be a part of the answer to what will happen for the Congo.  This country should be the richest in the world, but its corrupt past and poor current state have barred that from happening. It was a great tour, and even better that we were making connections, but I felt wrong missing everything at camp. The Chief Scout was with us, so we knew that this trip had their approval; that eased my mind a bit. Still, when we got back, we hiked 6-8 km (4-5 miles) round trip to the soccer fields and back to discover that the Scouts had already played the games we had planned for them. We just missed it all today and I hate missing camp. We did get to kick the soccer balls around with some kids and Scouts later, and I was happy about that. We even had some more fun with fire. I think overall our whole team is just on edge because we want to implement the plan we created and the Africans have a different agenda. It is just an adjustment.

Don’t get me wrong; what we have done here is immensely successful! I think these hesitations I have are just a result of my own over thinking and my love of summer camp. I think these next 3 days will clear that up in no time for me, because we’ll be leading and teaching non-stop. In my head, I’m just trying to discover our real purpose here, which seems to be floating just outside of my reach, and make sure that it is realized. God put me on this team for a reason, I believe that, and I’d like to find that reason. Yes, on the surface we are definitely here to run a camp for the Congolese Scouts and to help them learn to run a jamboree. But these Scouts are so incredibly smart, skilled and dedicated that they tend to run their own camp. They make their own plans, ask for our advice and then follow their plan anyway. This isn’t to say that what they are doing doesn’t work, because most of them are probably better Scouts than me! But, it is to say that if they aren’t necessarily getting our lessons on jamboree organization, we want them to be able to take something away from meeting us. I know that collaboratively, what we have done together is great, so trust me when I say that your support has done miracles here. Even as I write this post, my thoughts are scrambled. I’m going to pray tonight for some clarity and direction and have some resolve tomorrow. I know that we will get there! Thanks for sticking with me, everyone. You guys rock!

-Mitch and the DRC crew

 

Pirates ARRRRRR Part of Belzer’s Creek Adventures

3

Ahoy, Cub Scouts and adults!

My name is Kirstin and I’m the rafting instructor this year at Camp Belzer. I absolutely love canoeing and taking the Cubs Scouts out on the creek! We do different activities, like having the Scouts collect different colored flags and lots of learning how to row. We’re also even visited by pirates during the week!

It’s so very exciting to see the kids enjoy it (judging by their cheers at least) and the staff also enjoy helping “chase” the pirates with the Cub Scouts. Adventure Island is a fun theme for this summer and I can’t wait to see what adventures we’ll get into next summer!

2

 

1


Update From The Congo

Lubumbashi.10
Hey America!
First, I want to send you a great day from the Tenke District of the DRC! Second, I’d like to apologize for my lack of blog posts. As we feared, there is nearly no internet connection. I have been trying to send something for the last three days, and I’ve only just now gotten enough internet to send this small message. Once we return to Lubumbashi around Tuesday, I can send the blogs that I have been writing. What I’ll do is post one a day, with a tag at the bottom that lets you know what day I wrote it. Also, I need to take a second to mention that we are going to have plenty of time next week to send you messages from the Congo, as our flight was delayed. For everyone important to us that is reading this post, we will not be home until Saturday the 19th now. The airport in Lubumbashi is under construction. So, definitely check in next week! Our mission is going great, and there will be a lot to read. I miss all of you!
Thanks for reading!
-Mitch and the DRC crew