How about Boy Scout camping?
Got some memories there, too. Learned a lot about roughing it that way, which I always liked (but don’t do now). We built some pretty cool things–an obstacle course, big tri-pods and a ten-foot high platform over our campsite trail, to name a few–using rope, knots and tree limbs.
I would have to say, though, that my fondest memory of Boy Scout camping would be the summer leading into my Senior year of high school. Our troop master took about 5 of us older scouts 3 hours up into the northeastern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula for a “survival weekend”. He drove us up to one of the national forests up there that had numerous trails in it and had us draw straws. Why? We were to be dropped off at different trail heads–by ourselves–and hike 5 minutes or so into the trail and “set up camp”. Of course, this being a survival weekend, all we had was our sleeping bag wrapped in plastic (if we chose to bring one) and whatever we brought with us in our backpacks (if we chose to bring one of those, too). No tent, no food, just live off the land as best we could from Friday night to Sunday morning.
So it was my turn for drop-off (#3 straw, I believe). Dusk was beginning to settle in as I hoisted my backpack on and began hiking into my trail. Let me tell you something: To say that I was praying a lot is an understatement of the highest order. A 17 year-old kid 3 hours away from home being dropped off alone literally out in the middle of nowhere to hike into an unknown trail as darkness is closing in….yup….definitely an understatement. Oh, I had a map, but that’s like putting a man in a sinking rowboat and telling him to bail it out with a coffee cup. Not much of a comfort. But God’s presence always is. And as I hiked into this trail, praying and looking for a place to lay out my sleeping bag for the night, I began to hear the gentle sound of water flowing. At the same time that I heard this, I could see a big stand of tall pine trees coming up around the bend in the trail ahead. As I rounded that bend and entered the stand of pines, I suddenly found myself walking into a northern Michigan oasis. As I looked around, I realized that I was standing on an extremely thick carpet of soft pine needles. The trees were so tall that the branches didn’t start for a good 10 feet up. Because of that, I could see through the trees to a small river that had a gentle rapids flowing through it. It was so peaceful! God’s presence was certainly felt that night. Falling asleep to the gentle sound of the river and a light breeze blowing through the treetops above me was something I will never forget.
I fully believe God orchestrated that whole event…just for me. He knew which straw that trail would be. Sure, I’m the one who chose it, but that’s what’s sweet about following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. After a while, you get to know His voice pretty good and can tell when He’s prompting you in a certain direction–especially when you’re trusting Him to do so.
So, once again in my life, God showed Himself faithful.