scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Be Prepared
Fri Mar 31 2000 - 19:03:13 CST
I was talking last night to a friend who was explaining everything she takes
with her on short hikes in the mountains. She has read a lot and has a list
of ten things she always takes. She said it was being prepared. One of the
trails she hikes is a trail I regular jog, (running being a very inaccurate
description in my case.) I told her I take none of those 10 things on the
trail and she was amazed.
Our differences in experience lead to a totally different perspective of "Be
Prepared." My preparedness was an knowledge of the area, the roads and
surounding people. The trail, 10 miles long parells two major highways with
numerous roads coming within a mile of the trail. My preparednes was
knowing where the roads where and knowing that I could, no matter what the
situation, get to a road within a few minutes or an hour. I was not worried
about getting cold, the excercise would keep me warm. I was not worried
about getting lost, I knew where I was and where help was.
She then brought up my toys. Gear. Two rooms full of outdoor gear that I
have collected, evaluated, been given, aquired over the years. I admitted
that they were toys and that they had some value. GPS, hi-tech clothing,
prototype stoves, etc, but when I went out on a real trip, most toys stayed
behind or only went with the mental attitude that they could be left behind
and were not necessary for my survival. I survived on the proper base
clothing and my brain.
I likened those acts to John Muir who climbed Mt. Ranier with his hat, coat
and walking stick. His attitude, abilities and knowledge where what he
This discussion list and my discussions with other leaders seems to spend a
lot of time on the items. Don't get me wrong, the "gear" is important. I
won't go out without hydrophobic underwear and breathable fabrics, excellent
boots, etc. But, the most important thing I take is my brain and my ability
I believe that in Scouting we sometimes put too much time into the skills
and touchable issues of the program and not enough time into assisting the
youth to realize the goals of the program.
A group of 12 people were rescued off a local 14,000 feet peak last weekend.
No one was hurt. They went up the night before, set up camp and where "not
prepared" for the blizzard that struck. Amoung the group was a 12-14 year
old youth. Every rescued person hiked out on their own. No one was
"evacuated" or carried out. The group had taken a cell phone up with them
and when they lost 2 of their three tents to the wind, the called for help.
(Ignoring the discussion of cell phones in the back country.) Over a dozen
search and rescue people crawled out of warm homes to go rescue these
people. My concern is why was a rescue needed at all, if all 12 of the
rescued people called for help. Be prepared for them, meant calling for
someone else to come save their lives. Be prepared should have meant a lot
of other things.
Be Prepared should have meant checking the weather before leaving and
studying the weather on the mountain. It should have meant taking tents
that could withstand the punishment aboe 12,000 feet in winter. It should
have meant taking better clothing and gear. Which is what we teach youth
every day in this program. But if that is all we are teaching, we are
missing the big picture.
Those people should have been prepared to save themselves. They should have
the mentaly ability to think about their situation and determine a way to
self resuce without putting other people at risk. They should have been
able to think about how to solve their problem without relying on anyone
It is ludicrous to believe that being prepared is a list of things to take
through life. We as Americans cannot continue to blindly go through life
believing that technology and other people are going to save ourselves.
Visit a third world country and you see men, women, boys and girls entering
the moutnains or jungle every day without any "tech" gear as part of living.
Wilderness areas that for the first time in my life enthralled and terrified
me at the same time. For them being prepared was knowledge, experience and
their brain. Mostly their brain. (1) how do I not get hurt or in a jam.
(2) If for some reason #1 fails, how do I save myself. No phones, no search
and rescue, no nothing if in those coutnries somethign goes wrong.
I am not arguing against the idea of always having the proper gear. I carry
jumper cables, tooks, and a first aid kit in my car, but I anticipate
problems, do preventive maintenance, and think my way out accidents in
advance. Most of these came about the time my gray hair started being
noticible, but wish and believe it could have been taught a lot sooner.
Yours in Scouting
Denver Area Council
12340 W. Alameda Pkwy., Lakewood, CO 80228-2841
303-980-5353 Fax 303-989-2316