One inspiring photo from summer camp shows what it means to be a Scout

Scouts are brave, helpful and kind. All three qualities are symbolized in a single photo that comes to us from Boy Scout summer camp.

This is a true story that happened last month at Woodruff Scout Reservation, part of the Atlanta Area Council.

It was Wednesday, and Matthew S. was about halfway through his five-mile hike — a requirement for the Second Class rank. Suddenly, Matthew tripped over some tree roots and hurt his ankle.

He tried to walk, but the pain was too great.

Matthew wanted desperately to finish the hike, but the camp medics told him he needed to get checked out at the first-aid station. His fellow Scouts from Troop 870 of Miami noticed their friend’s dejected look. They said, “don’t worry, Matthew, we are going to finish this for you.”

They chanted Matthew’s name several times throughout the hike — knowing he probably couldn’t hear them but not caring.

The medics bandaged Matthew’s ankle, gave him some pain medicine and told him it’s either a deep bruise or a sprain. They wouldn’t know for sure until the next day.

When Matthew awoke on Thursday, the pain was still there, but Matthew was not going to let that stop him from going to his classes. Not with that First Class badge in sight.

“I have to go to classes because I want to advance,” Matthew told his mom that day.

That’s when the rest of the guys stepped up again. The boys all grouped up together and walked at Matthew’s pace to their morning classes. The photo at the top of this post shows a Scout named Danny helping Matthew by letting him lean on him.

The walk should’ve taken 10 minutes but ended up taking more than 20. The Troop 870 guys didn’t mind; they were all in this together.

By Friday, Matthew learned there was no sprain — just a bad bruise. He could even walk without assistance.

Matthew’s mom, Maddy, sent me the story and photos because she’s justifiably proud of her son and his troopmates.

“This photo speaks volumes,” she says. “My son fell and had a bruised ankle and wasn’t able to walk alone. Not only was he determined to finish his classes for his requirements to advance, but his Scout brothers helped him get to his classes.”

They didn’t just help Matthew get to class. All of the Scouts finished their first-year camper program — known at Woodruff as the Mountain Man program. The Scouts, including Matthew, received their Mountain Man patches at the end of the week.

That moment also was depicted in a photo — a nice reminder that in Scouting as in life, we’re stronger when we help each other reach the finish line.

5 Comments

  1. Props to Maddy’s patrol.
    Here’s a tip for any patrol leader who has an injured scout working on the 2nd class land navigation requirement: READ THE FOOTNOTE! It says:
    ‘If you use a wheelchair or crutches, or if it is difficult for you to get around, you may substitute “trip” for “hike” in requirement 3b and 3c.’

    The important part of that requirement is to demonstrate navigating well over an extended distance/time. Covering five miles on foot is less important. (Although, that’s the most fun way to do this and make sure everyone stays involved in navigating.)

    So, consider arranging a half-day trip with an adult driving through your piece of the country looking for landmarks or geocaches. Prepare a set of maps. (My favorite current site is caltopo.com.) Let the injured scout be the navigator. See where you wind up!

    (Pro tip: pitch in for the driver’s gas, help wash windows and mirrors when refueling, and pick a station in view of an ice-cream stand!)

  2. I am so proud of Troop 870. It is so good to see a group of scouts pulling together and helping each other. My son’s troop has struggled so much with this kind behavior and it has been very hard on my son.

  3. Two things. The brotherhood of scouting lasts a lifetime. I think summer camp is the best activity young scouts can do.

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