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Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's called your imagination

I must admit, I was a little nervous this past weekend with setting up an obstacle course in less than 2 hours.  In my head I had a half baked plan and about 3 obstacles for sure for the event but nothing elaborate.   I grew up with an older brother and when I was young and before I was in scouts the boy scout troop we grew up in did a fundraiser at a 4th of July event every year, where they set up an obstacle course and charged a quarter to run it.  As a cub scout I got to be around this and learned from the best on obstacle design and implementation.  So I have been around obstacle courses almost forever, set up many of them and have also planned them.  The thing is I need to let go and allow the youth in our troop do this while I just sit back and wait for them to come to me with issues or for advice.
The boys had patrol time in our weekday meetings to brain storm ideas to build and how to implement them.  This planning would have been great if many of those boys did not have conflicts and couldn't make the campout.  So plan B was to figure out what we did have and could do.  So the magic happened.  Have you ever been so nervous about the forest that you were too scared to even enter.  That is how I feel when letting go of things I love but the end result is so much greater.  I talked to the leadership about what we had and where we were supposed to put the course.  I then showed them where I wanted the course and let them go after it.
I went back to my camp, drank some coffee, and ate breakfast.  Then after an hour I checked up on the boys and I was so amazed by what they came up with.  There was an entrance, cargo net crawl, walls to climb, things to balance on, and the course was marked off.
You can see in these pictures that the boys simply took some rope, wood, and their imagination and created neat things to climb through.  They had so much fun that when the groups of webelos came to the event it  always wound up in a scout challenge on if the webelos were faster than the boy scouts.
The boys also were proud of making these events.  They wanted me to do the course with them and they let me know what they built.  Then I had the chance to show them a way to improve the event or how to fix the event.  The above picture is of our moving log balance.  The log is suspended by four ropes but after time the log starts to sag.  I showed them how to tighten up the log and they added the line to give some assistance for those that needed it.

I had some fence panels in my garage that were used as obstacles to run around.  This is one easy way to turn junk into something useful.  Now they didn't exactly blend into the surroundings but gave the event a rustic look.
The last event above was what I call the spider web.  The boys turned it into what they say were laser beams and you had to maneuver through them and not get hit.  Back to that imagination at work.

I teach knots and lashings about a thousand times a year it feels like.  Boys never really want to sit with me and learn these things by themselves.  The motivation is building something.  When you turn knots and lashings into obstacle courses, towers, and military things the boys instantly want to know how to build it.  Now that I have showed them how through the years and given them the opportunities to try and fail.  I now can sit back and enjoy what they come up with when given a challenge.  I still have hope of building that ewok village someday!  I also had the odd challenge from a rock climbing and rappelling teacher that scouts could not build a 20 foot tower that could sustain a person on it.  Please, give us a real challenge.

This is also why I love to camp.  No cell phones, no video games, and no TV and the boys could not be happier.  Then there are the stories and the adventures.  Probably the funniest thing I have ever heard was when Dustin and I were discussing cast iron care and somebody asked why we were so passionate about this subject.  If I remember right Dustin said, "Cast Iron has never hung up on me."  I have never laughed so hard in my life.  Like that needs to be a bumper sticker or something.  Maybe a T-shirt.

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