My son wants to go to sailing camp this summer with his cousins in California, and approached my wife and I about it around Christmas time. When we talked about it we made a deal: I would sign him up for the camp when he passed the BSA swim test.
For the last couple months he has been spending quite a bit of time in the pool, even swimming laps on his own when we would head to the pool for the open swim time. Watching him I didn’t think he would have a problem, but in his mind he obviously wasn’t so sure. He worked really, really hard, staying focused over the span of weeks and months. One might even say he has been “Minecraft focused”.
Last weekend his Webelos den met at the pool to cover the Aquanaut Activity Badge. When they finished, the Den Leaders offered the chance for any interested Scout to take the full swim test. I could tell he was nervous before his turn, but other than some words of encouragement I left him to sort it out inside his head.
He cranked right through it without a problem. When we congratulated him at the end, he was over the moon with excitement. I think he has been on cloud nine ever since.
Scouting has a range of challenges, and the reward to the individual Scout for meeting that challenge is immeasurable. Scouting has tiered some of the challenging activities into age appropriate categories, but we should remember that what is challenging varies from Scout to Scout. Sometimes the things that look challenging from an adult perspective are breezed through while some we don’t even register as a problem are the Scout’s biggest fear.
We shouldn’t shield them from the challenges, just be mindful of the struggle for each Scout. If we removed the challenge, we would rob those Scouts of the experience of overcoming it. Without the challenge, adventure would disappear and they would become tourists in an outdoor club.