At long last our local chapter of the Order of the Arrow managed to host an Ordeal ceremony. I can’t get into the specifics of the ceremony itself. I can offer that the candidates for the Order must be selected from their troops for outstanding service to their troops. Once ‘Called out,’ they are eligible to go through the Ordeal. The challenge for our particular group was to stay out overnight and sleep alone under the stars. Normally the only problems associated with this are the occassional feelings of loneliness. We had to deal with temperatures that dipped into the upper 20os and a forecast of rain turning to snow. I could barely imagine anything worse for non-arctic, non-mountainous terrain.
Since I was the responsible organizer for this event, I figured I’d sleep out there in their vicinity. If I couldn’t handle the cold, or if it started snowing or raining, then I was going to bring them indoors. Despite a forecast of rain and snow overnight, we did not experience any precipitation, so we stayed out the whole night. I’ve actually never done that before, at least not without a tent!
I remember when I went through the Order of the Arrow. That was an awesome time. After we got up the next morning and returned our hasty shelters to nature, we felt like men, confident in what we could endure, confident in what we could accomplish. I still remember the smells the high.
It’s too bad that Scouting has fallen on bad times in these recent years. These days young men don’t seem to have anyone out there to push them to their limits. “Oh, don’t touch my baby,” mom’s will say. Sports coaches are admonished for “using abusive language.” Pretty soon we’re going to end up with an entire world of gender neutral/fem inhabitants, incapable of dealing with failure, hardship, or less than perfect sanitation.
Men need to get up in the faces of their kids, boys especially, because we’re losing them. We’re losing them to an increasingly feminized culture of peace and tranquility and order. Oh, little Johnny, you mustn’t use your outdoor voice in here. Let me get you some Ritalin. We need to make you behave like little Suzy. Forget that fact that Johnny doesn’t have any outlet for his energy because his dad walked out on his mom (or works all the time) and his mom thinks Scouting is cruel and politically incorrect. So Johnny sits at home and watches TV while his mom or dad ignore him.
You speak to my fears also, my old friend! I’m personally determined to NOT let that happen with my boy! I’m not planning on raising him quite the way the Spartans of antiquity did (no, we’re not that old that our alma mater is considered antiquity. . . I meant the REAL Spartans!). But he’ll be no stranger to sleeping beneath the stars, that’s for sure! He’s going to learn to rock-climb, snow-ski, hike, bike, swim, crawl, walk, run; you name it, I hope to make sure he’s done it by his 18th birthday!
Ritalin! If his teacher suggests we put him on that, I’ll just smile and explain to him/her that I have a better solution. We’ll get up early and go jogging.
Check that. I’ll ride my bike. He’ll run. 🙂