Too Many Girl Scouts

and their failure at primitive survival

I spent the last weekend with one hundred and sixty girl-scouts.

Yup, you read that right. One hundred and sixty. That would be too many girl-scouts for most fancy-pants hotels, and it was waaay too many to be tent camping in northern Texas. I don’t know what their leaders were thinking before they came here, but I know what they were thinking while they were here: they’re never coming back.

160 Dead Girl-Scouts

I’m staying at Camp Tonkawa, which is a primitive survival camp. Here’s what that means: it means people come out here to learn how to survive without any modern conveniences. That means we teach our campers a bunch of skills when they come out here, things like:

After we teach them these things, they should (hypothetically) have the ability to survive for a while on their own.

I don’t know why these people signed up for this; I’m pretty sure they weren’t all that interested in survival. Participation in the classes was pretty low unless forced, and it became clear pretty quickly that these girls didn’t have any intention of actually using any of these skills that we were teaching, so they didn’t have a reason to participate.

They were all just looking forward to ending the weekend, and heading back to their couches and phones.

Why should we learn?

Our weekend was largely a failure. There were definitely a few girls who learned a few things, so not a catastrophic failure, but a failure nonetheless. And I think there’s a simple reason why it was a failure:

These girls had absolutely no reason to learn. They’ve lived in cities all their lives, and probably will live in cities the rest of their lives. They get their food at a grocery store, clean water comes from the tap, and they have a soft bed to sleep in at night. There’s nothing in their lives that requires any sort of survival instinct, so why would they bother learning about it?

These girls had no reason to learn

Here’s my advice to the leaders of that troup: before you try equipping your scouts, give them a reason to learn. Tell them they’ll be going camping in a week by themselves, and I’ll betcha that they’ll pay a lot more attention.

William Barclay wrote that there are two great days in a person’s life: “the day we are born, and the day we discover why.” This doesn’t just go for girl-scouts learning survival, it goes for all life in general: if you want to succeed at something, figure out why first.

If you don’t figure out what your “why” is, you’re gonna get knocked out every single day. We would all be wise to remember that.

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