Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tough Experience as a Young Boy

I'm sure all of us can relate experiences that were challenging and difficult. Whereas not all such experiences may be appropriately shared in public, here's something that happened to me which helped me appreciate the small things in life and made me count my blessings.

As a young teenager I participated in a Scout Camp here in Norway. I was excited to be a part of the program. I've always loved being in the woods and going on long trips. Much of my childhood was spent outdoors doing all sorts of activities enjoying "mother nature" both summer and winter with friends and family.

However, this particular trip turned out to become quite an ordeal. Why? Because my leaders were misinformed and thus did not prepare neither our group nor me for what would take place. The others in my group ended up doing OK, simply because their part of the program took place in the main camp.

On the other hand, my small group of peers, was sent out on a two-day assignment without food and gear. I was told it would be "a survival quest". Of course, the others were prepared and ready to go. I was not! No one had told me anything.

Going without food for longer periods of time is OK. I'm fairly used to it. Whenever occasion requires me to do so, I can stretch pretty far. But getting soaking wet without the right footwear and clothing wandering through swamps and in the cold was not only irresponsible. It became, looking back in retrospect, nothing but a painful and unnecessary trial. I spent all night trying to stay warm without success. From beginning to end this trip was nothing but suffering and pain.

The long journey home made me reflect on the small and simple blessings of everyday life. I thought about people who suffer like this daily, maybe for the majority of their lives. My suffering was but a shadow of what many people experience every day, even now.

Lessons Learned
Once home, I decided to remain positive about the experience and the group of people involved. It would've been easy to feel resentment towards those who claimed my friendship. Also, one more important decision was made that day: Once a leader myself, I would always make sure to take care of the people I'm in charge of, helping them be a) informed and b) prepared.

This experience has motivated me to always prepare, not only for bad times, but also live "preparedness" in general. How thankful I am for such a valuable, but painfully acquired, lesson!

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