Community Service (Punishment or Privilege)

Ready to hit the road for our long drive to Camp Loll.

Why is it that when someone does wrong in society, they are "sentenced to community service?"

When I did an Internet search on the definition of community service, I came across these: "a service that is performed for the benefit of the public or its institutions," "hands-on activities directly benefiting others," and "time volunteered which benefits a community or its non-profit institutions"—among many others.

Has society become so self-serving that it is considered a punishment to serve others?

As a child, my parents were both greatly involved in various volunteer capacities that served the community we lived in—to this day, they still serve others. Recently, I have tried to explore areas of public needs to find one that I would like to volunteer or contribute my time and expertise to serve for the benefit of others.

In January, I was given the assignment in my local church congregation to serve the young men as the assistant scoutmaster within the Boy Scouts of America. I excitedly accepted the assignment, since as a youth, I benefited from the scouting movement and served several summers on camp staff.

This week, I will be with our young men for five days at—the camp I worked three summers at in the early 1990s. There, these young men will learn how to survive and become adults. They will cook for themselves, learn how to deal with being away from their parents for one week. They will learn various life skills that will help them become contributing members of society. We will likely hike 18 miles to, the second largest waterfall in Yellowstone National Park. To a 12 and 13-year-old, that is a test of endurance with the reward of seeing one of nature's most beautiful sights.

These young men will likely never return to this area, however they will remember these experiences for the rest of their lives. Isn't that the purpose of community service—to help or benefit others.

Post-Event Update

Despite daily rain and a few hiccups with our gear, I would have to say that our trip to Camp Loll was a tremendous success.

Monday—When we arrived at camp Monday, our first task was to set up camp and take our swim checks. With twelve in our group, three adults and nine scouts, I was surprised and impressed to see everyone earned their full swimmer status. Lake of the Woods is a difficult lake for most people, however, the fact that we came in August was probably a benefit.

Once back from our swim checks, we were trying to prepare dinner when we discovered multiple problems with our Camp Chef stoves and propane tanks. We spent the week with only one set of three burners when we hoped to be able to use six.

The opening campfire was cut short due to thunder and lightning as we sat on an exposed rock face overlooking the lake. I had really hoped to hear Delose tell us the story of the Little Green Man—one of my favorite campfire stories.

Tuesday—In the morning, the younger scouts got into their merit badge classes while the older scouts jumped into the ACE program at CEYHO Basin's 90-foot cliff for rappeling and climbing. In the afternoon, everyone spent time in their favorite areas of camp; some canoeing and kayaking while others shot black powder rifles, threw tomahawks and ate fry bread. Rain again canceled the evening plans.

Wednesday—Five of our older scoouts hiked the 18-mile hike with the ACE Program leaders while four of the younger scouts hiked the eight mile hike. Both waterfalls are in Yellowstone's backcountry. The older scouts had to ford two rivers, Cascade Creek and the Falls River on their hike. They also got to swim in Scout Pool, a thermally warmed tributary of Mountain Ash Creek. I later found out that six of our nine scouts and one of our leaders had never been to Yellowstone before this trip.

Once everyone was back in camp, we had been scheduled for an Overnight Canoe trip to the other end of the lake. But with the rain we had consistently been having, I asked if we could still canoe but come back before dark. With camp's permission, we did just that. We canoed the 1.5 miles to the other end of the lake and did a trash pickup for a service project and then returned back to camp in time for the Commissioner Campfire. We didn't have rain until about 1:30am, Thursday morning.

Thursday—My dad surprised me and made a trip up to camp to bring us ice for our coolers. With all the rain and cold nights we had been having, we still had plenty of ice, but his visit was greatly appreciated. The rain came earlier today, about mid-afternoon, but only for 2–3 hours.

Thursday's dinner was prepared by the leaders. A triple meat slow-cooked barbeque consisting of beef, chicken and pork—very delicious. The evening activities consisted of the campwide games in Spruce Grove followed by the Honor Trail where the camp commissioners review the three main points of the Scout Oath: duty to God, duty to country, and duty to one's self.

Friday—While cooking breakfast, we ran out of propane. One of our leaders was supposed to return Thursday night with another propane tank after leaving for a job interview early that morning—he would not return until Friday evening. Delose was generous enough to allow us to use one of the camp's propane tanks so we could cook our food for the rest of the day.

Friday afternoon, our unit ventured out on the nature trail and to Polar Bear Springs, for "the coldest ten seconds of your life" (see image gallery). Our rain for Friday came during and just after dinner but was gone in time for the closing campfire. Before the closing campfire, we packed up our camp kitchen so that we could make a quick exit the next morning so we could come home through Jackson and past the Tetons.

Saturday—It had been the coldest night of our week by far—ice on the windows of the vehicles proved that. It was 34º outside when we left camp at 7:40am.

As we approached the Tetons, I was disappointed that the boys wouldn't be able to see them in their full glory since the storm clouds were covering all but the bottom 2,000 feet of them. It rained some on our way home.

Review—Several of our scouts expressed that this was the best scout camp they had ever attended and that it went too fast. In fact, the program director mentioned at the beginning of the week that they want to provide more activities than any one person can hope to do in one week so that they will want to return next year. They succeeded, our boys want to return to Camp Loll next year.

If you can capture the attention of scouts ranging in age from 12 to 17 and keep them busy, you have a good program. None of our boys ever complained that they were bored or that there was nothing to do. I believe that they all came home with a greater respect of the outdoors and a tremendous appreciation of God's creations.

This is what community service is all about.

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