The fastest musher in the history of Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ran the 1000-plus mile course from Anchorage to Nome in just under nine days. The longest time to finish the race is 32 days.
Each year the last musher to finish the Iditarod earns the Iditarod’s symbol of perseverance, the Red Lantern Award.
Finishing one thousand miles, after years of training, preparation, dedication and sacrifice is it’s own reward, a milestone for anyone attempting this massive challenge. Imagine the thousand small victories and defeats known only to the heart of the musher who perseveres to take on the Iditarod. That’s the perseverance the Red Lantern award celebrates.
Scouting isn’t about coming in first, it’s about surmounting the challenge. Large or small each achievement , every attempt along the way, is a red lantern moment. A Scout’s first camping trip, the first campfire, the second, the tenth, the hundredth; all landmarks in a young life glowing with potential. One of our obligations as Scouters is recognizing these small steps and making the most of them – red lantern moments of encouragement and praise.
I am not suggesting a perfunctory, casual ‘atta boy!’ handed out like so much candy. What our Scouts need is our heartfelt realization that each step brings us closer to the main aim. Imagine the powerful force for good you can be in any Scout’s heart if you look for the least little glimmer of what we are aiming for and take notice of them.
Make a point out of sharing honest, heartfelt encouragement in small things, and you’ll see hope and ambition rise in all of your Scouts. All too often I find myself talking about the small shortcomings in a sea of accomplishment. I am getting better at catching myself, keeping my mouth shut, and looking a little closer. When I do I see the red lantern’s light at every turn.