When I was 14 the scouts went to a huge district camp in the West Desert of Utah where there were several hundred scouts. All the scouts and leaders were to follow a marked trail to a large camping area about a mile away. I was excited to get to the camping area ahead of all the scouts in my troop. I was a fast hiker and knew I could get to the camping area quickly. I wasn’t hiking alone since there were so many scouts from other troops. I knew I would be safe. I ended up hiking with a father and son from another troop. We kept hiking together for quite a while not seeing the camp. We knew we were in trouble when it started getting dark and no camp was in sight.
Since I was with an adult I didn’t worry too much about being lost. I only had my backpack with my sleeping bag and my food. I ate my dinner then unpacked my sleeping bag. I climbed into my sleeping bag early because I was cold. The scout and his Dad had a tent only big enough for two so I sleep under the stars. I remember I had just started dozing off to sleep when someone had found us. It was like a dream. I do remember them asking the man I was with if I was the missing scout. I was asked what my name was and what troop I was with. I am sure the news I had been found was a relief to my scout master. I was told to stay with the scout and his Dad until morning. The camp was only a few hundred yards away from where we were. That night it ended up raining so I got wet in my sleeping bag. It became a long cold night. I was never more thankful when morning came and we found the rest of the scouts in my troop. I found out that a few scouts changed the signs and rocks that were marking the trail so everyone could find their way to the camping spot better. Their prank could have been more serious.
At the next scout court of honor one of the scouts got up to tell about our last scout camp. He titled the camp, “Lonely Leonard Gets Lost.” Everyone had a big laugh. I have told this story several times over the years. I have a good friend to whom I told this story. He had been at that scout camp but he never realized I was the missing scout everyone was looking for until I told him the story. He said that everyone was calling my name. In his troop everyone in unison would count one two three, then call my name “Leon–ard” as loud as they could. There was even a search and rescue helicopter that was helping with the search. My friend said, “I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection until now.” We had a good laugh.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 it says “in every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I am thankful for this experience because it made me realize how many people cared about me as a person. It also made me aware of how important it is to stay together as a troop when hiking. When you have a dramatic experience it changes you.