Coming Out of Your Shell: Finding Confidence from Camp
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United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.
When the last marshmallow had been roasted and the fire was little more than glowing embers, the Cub Scouts retreated to their tents. It was the first weekend camping trip of the year at Camp Miakonda, and the boys were all exhausted after a full day of outdoor activities. Rian, who had recently earned his First Class Boy Scout rank and was serving as a mentor to his little brother’s new pack, was about to extinguish the campfire when he saw a boy sitting on one of the surrounding logs, staring into the dying embers.
“Jeez, you scared me!” Rian said. The boy looked up at him, his face a blank slate. “What are you still doing out here?”
The boy didn’t reply so Rian took a seat on the log across from the boy. “You’re Connor, right?”
The boy nodded once, then looked back down. He was drawing shapes in the dirt with the stick he’d used for roasting marshmallows. Rian considered him for a moment, this quiet boy with sagging shoulders sitting across from him.
He felt like he was looking into a mirror—one that revealed a reflection of himself from when he’d first joined Cub Scouts.
Through the dim light of the embers, he looked at the shapes in the dirt and saw that Connor had drawn a series of stick figures, all grouped together except for one lone figure standing off to the side.
“I used to draw a comic book series,” Rian said. “I was right around your age, not long before I joined Cub Scouts. I called it The Adventures of Wallpaper Boy!” He waved his hand through the air in a grand flourish, as if revealing the title on an invisible marquis.
Connor tilted his head a bit to indicate he had heard Rian so he kept talking. “The comic series was about this boy who had a magical suit that could blend into the walls around him. At school, he was always marked absent because the teacher couldn’t see him. He didn’t mind, though, because he never got called on. He could go unnoticed for days!”
Connor sat up, looking a little more interested.
“The magic suit had two weaknesses, though.” Rian continued. “First, his mom was the only one who could see him—so there was no getting out of his chores. And second, the suit didn’t work outside. His mom, knowing the suit’s second weakness, signed him up for Cub Scouts, and sent him here to Camp Miakonda.”
Seeing a smile start to form on Connor's face, he could tell the story was now one Connor related to. “That first night, I—I mean, Wallpaper Boy—sat right where you’re sitting now, trying his hardest to make his suit blend in with the surrounding wilderness. But, it was no use. Everyone could see him. He wanted to curl up into a ball and make himself as small as he could, just like you’re supposed to do if you encounter a bear—you’ll learn all about that.”
“Are we going to see bears?” Connor asked, his eyes wide.
Rian laughed. “No, not around here. But you are going to learn all sorts of useful survival skills. And, have a lot of fun, too! I’ve met some of my best friends here at Camp Miakonda.”
“What happened to Wallpaper Boy?” Connor asked.
Rian thought back on the day he’d shed his wallpaper suit and proudly donned his Cub Scout uniform—the same uniform he’d passed down to his little brother.
“Well, one day he was on the rope course and saw other boys from his pack struggling. No longer able to blend into his surroundings, the other boys could plainly see he easily navigated from one obstacle to the next. When he finished the course, they surrounded him cheering and asked how he did it. He offered to lead them through the course a second time--giving tips and encouragement until they’d all made it through.”
Rian paused and then finally concluded, “It turned out Wallpaper Boy was a natural leader.”
Standing up to grab his canteen of water he said quietly to Connor, “That was the last Wallpaper Boy comic I ever drew.”
With the story over, Connor looked down at the stick figures he’d drawn in the dirt.
“Why don’t you help me put out the last of the fire?” Rian challenged Conner while passing him the canteen. “Go slow. Not too much at once or else ash will go everywhere.” He coached.
“Like this?” Connor questioned, looking up at Rian.
“Just like that. You’re well on your way to earning your Fire Safety merit badge. Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to my little brother and show you guys the ropes.”
CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Over the course of several weeks, hundreds of FCA Jeep employees helped update cabins, trim trees and paint buildings at the Boy Scouts’ Camp Miakonda as part of the Jeep Season of Service Project. United Way, together with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) - Toledo Assembly Complex, and other corporate partners, strive to build our community through giving and volunteerism. Your support helps us continue to connect resources and support to programs which enrich our youth and set them up for success.
*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Boy Scouts of America, Erie Shores, on behalf of their Scoutreach Program. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the program’s support capabilities.Return to Blog Home
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