Even at their best, boys can be at their worst. It’s not that they’re that bad. It’s just at times that they are prone to complain, whine, fight, belch, talk back, stink, bully, kick, rationalize and make you dizzy from the roller coaster that is puberty.
And that’s on a good day.
One day, somebody had an idea how to fix that. Let’s take them camping, they said. Let’s remove them from their Life of Sludge, take away their electronic devices, their Facebooks and umbilical cord to the refrigerator, and ship them into the wilderness with other Scouts.
At first they’re numb when they file into your vehicle in the middle of the night, clutching their sleeping bags and tear-stained pillows. They have no idea for sure. For all the boys know, it could be a field trip to the 7-Eleven.
Then after four hours of traveling, it hits them as they look out the window. Nothing but trees, dirt and rocks. Not an air conditioner or Burger King to be found.
It’s a pretty abrupt change for these young men with the initiative of butter, and it sends most into the different stages of grief.
After denial comes anger.
“You did this to me,” they’ll say.
“I’ll get you and your Scout motto, too,” they threaten.
But something interesting happens after the first 24 hours. Some people would call it a miracle. You see two friends barely tall enough to be in the Wizard of Oz pool their money for fishing gear to be used later. Others succeed in overcoming their biggest fears.
Connections are made and bonds are formed here, something that rarely happens during merit badge classes or flag ceremonies. It’s usually during those unscripted moments, when you least expect it.
It’s still not easy at times, because these are boys. They are the bottom-dwellers that eat our food and complain about our satellite television package.
But for one week, in a place where clean showers are a sign of weakness, boys give you a chance to peek into the future. And for the most part, you like very much like what you see.