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Be Prepared

The troop of boy scouts was going out on a camping trip for the weekend. It would be fun, surely. Ricky was a second class scout and was participating. Unfortunately, his family was not wealthy. Not even close. So he would sometimes not have the gear necessary for these camping trips. This time it was a sleeping bag that he would not be able to supply. The troop had its own tents, so everyone would be sleeping out of the weather.

There would not be much weather. They were in the Mojave Desert and were going to an area that contained some fossil beds. They would be looking for fossils of ancient tree roots. Not terribly exciting, but interesting, none the less. However, he lacked the sleeping bag that everyone needed to go on the trip.

Ricky spoke to his scoutmaster at the meeting before the trip. He was told that there would be extra sleeping bags that the troop owned and there would be enough for those missing bags. Ricky was not the only one lacking all the gear needed for a camping trip. That was a relief. He went home happy and looking forward to the trip the next weekend. It was not going to be too hot, since it was in the spring. They might even see some desert wildflowers blooming. He loved getting out into the landscape, and he really liked the desert.

His parents had given permission for the trip, of course. It was really their idea that he join the scouts. But it hadn't been too bad. He wasn't as enthusiastic as some, but the experience had been good, overall. He had even won a knot tying contest during one activity for several troops around the area. That had helped his troop win the overall prize. So he was trying to be part of it all, and learning as he went along.

They gathered at the American Legion Hall where the troop met and headed out in vans and cars. It took about an hour and a half to reach the fossil beds. It was late afternoon and they had just enough time to unload gear and set up the tents before cooking their evening meal. Everyone piled out of the vehicles and began tossing equipment and bags out of the stake truck that had carried it all up with them. The sleeping bags were piled up in a separate pile.

When everything was off of the truck they were told to get their sleeping bags and then help put up the tents. All the boys went to the stack and began selecting bags. Some grabbed their personal bags and the others took what they could find. Ricky had a bag and he placed it aside while everyone started putting up the tents. They were finished in about fifteen minutes. He took his backpack and the sleeping bag and found a space in one of the tents. He set down his backpack and unrolled the sleeping bag.

Ricky noticed something as they were gathering about getting ready to cook their meal over the fires that had been started. One of the scouts seemed to be searching for something. He was moving around the camping area and going into each tent. Finally he came out of the tent that Ricky had bedded down in. He was carrying a sleeping bag. It looked like the one Ricky had laid out.

Talking to the other scout Ricky discovered that he had accidentally taken someone else's sleeping bag. It wasn't one of the extras for those lacking bags. So he went to talk to the scoutmaster about getting another bag.

"Ricky, there are no more sleeping bags. All the extras have been taken. I guess you should have remembered the scout motto. Be Prepared. I may have some blankets you can use. Let me check."

Ricky went back into the tent. One of his fellow scouts was in there. He was friendly guy. Not a friend, but they knew each other. Ricky told him what had happened.

"It's not a big problem, Ricky. My sleeping bag is big enough for two. You're not that big. We can share it. That'll take care of that. Okay?"

"Yeah, that's fine. Thanks a lot Jim."

So Ricky spent the night sleeping in a bag with another guy. It was not really that bad. They had plenty of room. Ricky also had plenty to think about.

When they finished the camping trip and arrived home they all went their separate ways. Ricky lived just a short walk away. Actually, most did, because it was a fairly small town. The main street was only about ten blocks long.

What did Ricky learn? He learned to take seriously the scout's motto of Be Prepared. He thought he had done so by talking with his scoutmaster about the bags. That hadn't been good enough. Ricky also had learned something else. There were decent people out there willing to help you. And you can't always trust those in authority. His new motto was Trust But Verify.

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