Black Diamond Self-Talk

Monday, September 10, 2012


      I am reminded of a journey I've taken with the Boy Scouts. We set out for a weekend campout where one of the objectives is to hike up a mountain until we reach the summit. Initially this began as a simple exercise on paper and listing the task among those that we might set as objectives. Many other ideas were put forth, but the hike remained after the final cuts were accomplished.

      Some of the scouts had researched the objective. They provided pictures from the summit. We were all able to visualize being above the tree line, standing firmly on the rock boulders and grassy and mossy surfaces of the top. We imagine the unobstructed wind, at the summit, where there are no trees to block it. blowing our hair and clothes in a forceful draft. We imagine feeling the intensity of the sun warming our cheeks and exposed arms and legs, and even through our clothes. We see the incredible view of the clouds in the sky, the other mountain peaks connecting in a line far off into the distance in two directions. We also see the many valleys below and the tiny tree tops, paths, streams and trails below.

      Many of the scouts had never been there before, but their belief that this experience is there at the top is very strong. They know that it is there. They have already lived it in their imagination. The excitement, even love for the natural sun, wind and sights motivate them into action.

      In a Boy Scout troop, the older boys lead, coach and mentor the younger, more inexperienced scouts. To further instill a faith in the attainment of the desire, they plot out the course necessary to begin the journey. One of the older scouts pulls out a map of the available trails, and a selection is made.

      Leaving our homes by bus, the entire journey to the camp site was accompanied by excited discussions of being on that summit. One boy was even working on carving and painting his initials on a stone he planned to leave behind on the summit, marking his achievement. He was confirming his faith that he would be there. There were other plans for more and better pictures by other scouts (and leaders). Better because WE would be in these.

      The day we arrived was overcast and rain was threatening. We set up camp, dinner preparations were begun and all the while excited discussions of our hike the next day continued. Even though we proclaimed "lights out", many could be heard contributing to a din of banter long afterwards and the words hike and summit could be heard as well.

      The next day, after careful review it was determined that the forecast was mild enough that we could still venture upon our journey on this day, without danger. We spot-checked that all were equipped with the tools necessary for the journey: rain gear, trail mix, plenty of water, walking sticks, proper shoes, at least one camera and the like, and of course the initial-carved and painted rock. Then we set out for the first trail marker.

      Step by step we ascended the mountain. Overcoming and clearing fallen branches, carefully navigating the wet rocks that were slippery; small measure by small measure making progress upward, all the while focused on the experience at the summit. The occasional shower didn't dampen our faith.

      The summit was more incredible than any of us imagined. The top of this moutain was above the clouds which were dripping below. We were overcome with the grandeur laid out before us. It brought goose bumps to some and even tears of joy to others. If it wasn't for the faith instilled long before, many of the boys would have found reasons to stop or even turn around and go back, the warm fire and sleeping bags beckoning them. Instead, our entire crew ascended to the summit and still celebrate the accomplishment as a measuring stick upon which all future objectives are measured.

with gratitude and in service,

Tony, Lisa, Michael and Amanda Koker

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