My first long-term Boy Scout camping experience took place at Camp Steiner in the lofty Uinta Mountains of Utah near the border with Wyoming. For a solid week I was in Boy Scout heaven. My buddies and I roamed the forests and lakes and streams and climbed snow-capped peaks in search of adventure. We canoed, stalked deer, fished, launched a homemade rustic raft on Mirror Lake and fought the “Battle of Steiner” from rowboats.
Now, the Battle of Steiner was the highlight of the whole week’s adventures. I was fortunate to be selected from our troop to be one of the four-man rowboat crew
whose goal it was to sink all the other rowboats before they sank us. We had two oarsmen, one boy with a large bucket whose job it was to swamp the other boats, and a fourth boy who had a much smaller tomato juice can to be used to bale water out as our adversaries poured it in.
The thing I remember most was how cold the water was that came at us by the bucket-full. It hadn’t been long since that water had been clinging to a mountain-top as snow. We weren’t the last to get swamped but neither were we the first. As is often the case, older Scouts had the advantage over us younger guys. But what a blast we had as the other members of our troop cheered us on!
Each morning after reveille and before breakfast, the troop would gather at the foot of our makeshift flagpole where we paid our respects to the American flag, had uniform inspection and then got oriented about the day’s activities. One important part of that gathering was the reading of the “Weather Rock.”
The weather rock was a regular-type, non-descript rock that probably weighed in at four or five pounds and was suspended by a rope from the limb of a tree. A designated weather man from the troop would critically inspect that rock and then announce with exaggerated authority the weather that could be expected that day. The criteria he used were very specific:
If the rock was cold, it was a cold day. If the rock was warm, it was a warm day. If the rock was dry, it wasn’t raining. If the rock was wet, it was raining. If the rock was white, it was snowing. If the rock was swaying, it was windy. If the rock was nowhere to be found, there was a hurricane…and so on. Now you just can’t get much more accurate than that!
I’ll bet General Dwight D. Eisenhower would have loved having a weather rock for the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War II. The invasion was delayed several days, at the risk of being discovered by the Nazis, because of uncertainties in the weather.
I’m constantly amazed today at how accurately the weather is predicted by our television station meteorologists. Using astounding satellite technology and computer projections, they can often tell us right down to the minute when we can expect it to start raining in our specific area. Even so, occasionally they miss the mark and, when they do, we relish taking them to task for their apparent ineptitude. Anyone who attempts to do almost anything has to take criticism now and then. Some of us are so sensitive to criticism that we are continually changing from one course of action to another.
Aesop has a fable about a man and boy who were leading a donkey to town. A passer-by laughed at them for walking while the donkey had no load, so the man had the boy get up and ride. Soon they met a man who criticized the boy for riding while his father walked. The boy got off the donkey and the man climbed on. Soon another person called the man selfish because he was making the little boy walk. Both started to ride, and they were accused of cruelty to the donkey.
They then tied the donkey’s legs together, put a pole between them, and shouldered the pole. People laughed at them so much that they started to let the donkey down; it began to kick, rolled over into the river, and was drowned.
During Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, He went steadfastly forward in the fulfillment of His mission, unaffected by either praise or criticism. He came into the city on Palm Sunday amid the acclaim of an enthusiastic multitude. By the next day his popularity had waned. Instead of being surrounded by an admiring crowd, he was being questioned and criticized by the Pharisees. He made the same reaction to seeming failure that He had previously made to apparent success. He was seeking to do His Father’s will, and He remained quietly indifferent to the praise and blame of men.
We can make ourselves wretched by being too sensitive to the opinions of others. No one can fill any position of leadership or take an open stand in behalf of any cause without having some people approve what he does and others find fault. We just have to make our plans carefully and prayerfully and forge ahead. Perhaps we could take a lesson from the weather rock and scrutinize conditions around us before taking action but try to avoid being overly sensitive when things don’t go entirely as planned.