Yesterday, our Boy Scout troop hiked through the Ape Caves. This isn’t the easiest of hikes, nor is it the hardest of hikes, but it is a hike. You will be walking, climbing, scrambling over piles of boulders, and getting wet. Now, my Boy Scouts took all of this in stride. However, we had some visitors (age 11) from a local Cub Scout pack with us. The Cub Scouts were fine, it is their adult leader that was a pain.
One situation that sticks out in my mind from yesterday’s hike was climbing the lava fall (like a dry waterfall). It is an eight foot wall (drop) and we were climbing up it. To be honest, if your kid likes to climb trees or climb the playground structure at his local elementary school, he can climb this wall. My Girl Scouts could climb this wall (disclaimer: My Girl Scout troop is pretty much fearless and they do an awesome job. In fact, they do a lot of things better than boys. That is for another blog post. And there is nothing wrong like “throwing like a girl”.)
So Mr. Gung Ho Webelos Leader gets to this wall and says “Oh, we can’t climb this. Looks like we need to turn around.” What? I don’t think so. We don’t give up because of a small wall. We passed little kids in this lava tube cave that made it up and down this wall. We passed people that had extra padding on themselves (they were overweight) and they made it up and down this wall. You bet your candy ass, we are making it up this wall.
Sure some of the younger scouts were a little scared but nothing to the point where they were having an epic meltdown. They were frightened but nothing to where we needed to turnaround. Using the EDGE method (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable), we allowed the older scouts to go up, then some of the younger ones, and finally the fat ass old adults.😄
We helped the Webelos Scouts up and they didn’t have a problem making it up. Sure, it might be a little scary but you don’t give up. Overcoming a little hurdle makes a big different in helping to build their self esteem and demonstrating that teamwork helps to accomplish your goals.
You also have to push your child sometimes. A little motivation from older Boy Scouts and other leaders (other than your parents) can be helpful to get over those whiney moments. A little push in the right direction never hurt anyone.
So what happen to the scouts that were a little afraid? They all made it up the wall. Five minutes later the fear of the wall was a distant memory and they were scrambling over the next pile of rocks.
I asked the scouts afterwards “Did you have fun?” This is when they all broke down, started crying uncontrollably, and said they hated me and Boy Scouts. They screamed and asked in their high pitched voices (between all the sobs and sniffles), why I made them do it.
I didn’t wait for an answer, I just turned and walked away. Jumped in the Green Van of Doom and drove myself home. Bye, bye whiney scouts!!
Some other data from the cave hike: we had six Boy Scouts ranging in ages (12-15), three registered Boy Scout Adult Leaders, a Webelos Leader, and three Webelos scouts (ages 10-11). It took our little band about 2 hours to go through the Upper Ape Cave. We started at the lower entrance and exited out thought the upper entrance. Due to recent rain, the cave/tunnel is wet and there is a lot of water dripping. Be sure to wear waterproof clothes to stay dry. Temperatures in the caves average 42 degree F year round. A single person or a group of two (in reasonably good health HWP) could probably whip through the tunnel more quickly. The hike back is very easy. Make sure you take two sources of light (headlamps were better than flashlights), extra batteries, etc. No food is allowed in the caves.