Camp Geiger, Tuesday, June 30
Small miracles happen every day at summer camp.
Yesterday, while we were talking to Marvin for the tomahawk blog we posted yesterday, a young man from a troop in Maysville, Missouri stepped up and threw his four tomahawks at the stumptop target in front of him. Three never had a prayer and the fourth bounced off the front. No sticks.
As is his way, Marvin stepped in and explained to the boy why he was having trouble hitting the target and how to correct his technique on his next set of throws. Turns out the little guy was standing two paces too far away from the target. When Marvin finished with him and called for the next group, the young man pulled his hat down over his face and quietly started to cry as he slumped against the picnic table sitting outside the throwing area.
As easily as he could, one of the assistants plopped down on the picnic bench and slid toward the young man from Maysville. "It's really hard to stick a throw," he said. "You'll get it on the next one," he told him.
"I suck at everything," the boy shot back. "I didn't make it into my swimming badge this morning and now I can't do this!" The counselor reassured him he'd be able to learn how to throw a hawk, but when I left, the boy was still crying and brooding about all of his shortcomings.
Flash forward to last night after dinner at the 35-foot rappelling wall and who do we see coming over the top of the wall first, but the young man from Maysville, Missouri - Population: 900. I hoped for the best, but secretly expected him to back out and come back down via the stairs rather than actually rappelling down the wall. He looked nervous. He was hesitant. And from 4 stories below, you could see his hands shaking. Rappelling seems easy from the ground, but when you're ready to back off that tower, even the bravest swallow hard.
But as I said, miracles happen at summer camp every single day.
With a stiff shot of resolve, the young man put his right hand on his back hip, grabbed the rope with his left and walked right down the face of that wall without hesitating once. The sun was setting behind the tower, but when his feet hit the ground, the look on that boy's face could have lit up three states.
It may not be on a rappelling wall, or in a pool, or throwing a hatchet, but the same kinds of miracles are going on with many of our boys. You can see it. And if you listen close, you can hear it in the way they talk about their experiences here. They will not leave here the same way they came. Like the giant caterpillar living inside the netting that hangs from the big tree in the craft and nature corral, our boys, and our troop, will leave here better and brighter than we are right now.
They're learning the true meaning of citizenship. And friendship. And doing for other people. And best of all, they're learning you can have a lot of fun doing all three.