Near Death Experiences With A Great Bunch of Young Men

TopoMapSawtoothAlpineBaronRedFishJust got back from taking a small troop of 12 and 13 year old young men on a scouting hiking and camping trip in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho with two other leaders.

Here’s the checklist.

Watch a boy think it’s a good idea to stand with his back three feet from the edge of an 80-foot drop and begin pulling on a two-hundred pound hunk of granite while three other boys on the other side push on it with their feet in an attempt to send said large object over the edge.


(Eventually their frontal cortexes will develop; until then it’s up to leaders to say, “Hey, um, make sure you pull really hard.”)

Sleep under stars in sleeping bag I don’t quite fit in with my serial killer ski mask on backwards because my eyeballs are freezing and wake up at 5 am to 27 degrees.


See spectacular views, including one stark place (Baron Lakes) that looks like a habitation for dragons or trolls.


Watch in rear view mirror in the middle of nowhere Idaho as the other scout leader in the pickup with the four boys tries to pass two rabbit farmer pickups at a T intersection (yeah, passing at an intersection is against the law even if the trucks have hazards on and are waving people around), each with a single ton round bale in the bed; see the first rabbit farmer truck start to turn, and then the scout transportation vehicle swerve, miss a traffic sign by 14 inches, go flying off the road at 60 mph, bounce a number of times in the field and come to a halt. Upon flying off the road, spiritual and hippy scout leader shouts, “Oh, s**t!” When the truck comes to rest, the one scout whose father lent us the truck exclaims, “THAT WAS AWESOME!”


(Yes, they had their seat belts on.)

So, all in all, a great trip.

5.5 miles and 2,000+ feet in elevation on the way in and again on the way out, wearing a $6 pair of camo jeans purchased at the Deseret Industries (the local thrift shop) and a $17 pair of WalMart special shoes with soles that were mostly made out of foam, which meant that while they were comfy much of the time, I did get to make friends with a number of pointy granite rocks, proving that “be prepared” for some of us is more of a guideline than an actual rule.

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7 Responses to Near Death Experiences With A Great Bunch of Young Men

  1. The Captain says:

    I have great memories of Scout trips:

    – A 50-mile hike in the back country of Yosemite, with the first day a 1500-foot climb from the valley floor to the top bluffs of the back country. (Whose idea was that route? Um, me,)

    – The same trip, making sure that I used water purifying tablets in my canteen, not knowing that I had at least doubled the dosage. (Which caused several extended trips to the side of the trail to, um, ‘squat’. Yep, me again.)

    – A 70-mile canoe trip somewhere up in British Columbia, with a ride down a swift but smooth river fed directly from a glacier – the water was white with minerals, and was so thick you could almost chew it. (The best water I have ever had. And nobody swamped their canoe.)

    – Scout camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with the boys doing merit badge classes during the day (each boy got at least 8 merit badges during the week). And because the boys did so well in their classes, each night they were allowed to play ‘Capture the Flag’ in the dark in the forest until after 3am. (Yep, I was the leader that let them do that. But each boy was on time for the 7am breakfast.)

    – A trip to Fort Bragg (California coast above SF), where the boys stand on the edge of a small cliff while a big wave crashes up above them. (All is well; nobody swept into the ocean.)

    – An overnight snow camp where the boys built their own snow caves and managed to stay warm through the night. (And where the boys learned – again – that they needed to be prepared, because if they asked their leaders for something they forgot – like TP – the leader would say “What you got to trade for it?” And that meant the leaders got the best snacks from the boys.)

    Great memories.

    Looks like 12-13 year old boys haven’t changed much in the last 25 years. Leaders too.

    • John Brown says:

      So Scouts is a basically a controlled outlet for the urge to do something dumb and say, “Hey, watch this!”

  2. Lesli says:

    Meanwhile, at girls’ camp, they are forced to hold hands in a circle and sing Kumbaya, and read scriptures for an ACTIVITY.
    Someone hangs a bra from a flagpole or smears peanut butter in someone’s underwear and it’s the end of the world.
    Meanwhile, the boys are learning how to streak and not get caught.
    Something you never hear after girls’ camp–glad you all made it back safe.
    What was that?! Did someone say “issues?”!!! Did they?!!!

    • John Brown says:

      Yeah, you and Nellie have the exact same response. And when the church comes around for donations for Scouting, she says, sure we’ll donate a bunch when you raise the same dough for the girls. Although I have to say, I wonder if my girls would be as into throwing crap off cliffs as those boys were 🙂

  3. Lesli says:

    Give him a chance. You might be surprised.

  4. Lesli says:

    Give “them” a chance. Doh!