The better part of valor is discretion. Bravery (valor) is important but it may be that it is more important to avoid some situations rather than brave them. If, for some unlikely reason, I should find myself in the middle of the road I will not panic but bravely manage the situation as best I can. I will not, however, step into the middle of the road simply to prove my bravado.
Our Council Camporee was planned for last weekend. Unfortunately two successive, strong nor’easters were forecast. As of Thursday the next three days were predicted to be rainy (100% to 60% probability), cold (not above 45F) and windy (up to 20MPH). I could imagine few worse places to spend those days than in a tent in the middle of a field.
I called our Council office about [3:30]PM on Thursday to see what the status of the weekend was and was somewhat surprised to be told that we were rolling ahead. In fact the tone of the answer I received was decidedly incredulous; ” Of course were going to have the Camporee – it’s just a little rain”. Anyone who has actually spent a weekend outdoors in the wind and rain at 40F knows darn well that it is not just “a little rain” but actually one of the more dangerous weather conditions one can encounter. I’d rather spend the weekend in sub zero temperatures during a snowstorm – I’d feel a lot safer.
Scouts out in an all-day rain are going to get wet. No matter how well outfitted, no matter how well prepared, they are going to get wet. Place them in a hermetically sealed bubble in the middle of the Gobi dessert on the only day it rains in twenty years and they are going to get wet. After they are wet they are going to get cold, once cold they are gong to get sick (hopefully not until they are safely home). Put them in the middle of a windy field for the day and they very well may get dangerously hypothermic.
Understanding that we had a commitment to the Camporee and fter discussing our options with our SPL and other leaders we decided that we’d go ahead. We told our Scouts that attending required the proper gear (not the theoretical rain gear they swear to have but actual rain gear), having been cold and fever free for the past week, and a commitment to brave the conditions. Anyone who didn’t want to go could stay home. I fully expected to take five or six Scouts, hunker down in a phalanx of tarps, drink a lot of hot chocolate, play cards as the wind and rain whipped the program to a standstill and return home late Saturday afternoon when the Camporee was finally called-off. I even had the idea that we’d have a fun and memorable weekend.
As soon as we settled on our plan an email arrived telling me that the Camporee was now postponed until next spring.
As it turned out the weather went from bad to worse. The 60% chance of rain on Saturday became a 100% continuous, gray certainty well through mid-morning Sunday. Temperatures hovered around the 40F mark and winds were steady. A Camporee held under these conditions would have been memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.