Grandfather of the Year?

It’s only halfway through the month of January and already I am preparing for the end of the year. Our oldest grandson, Connor, is a boy scout and he is one of those young teenagers who loves camping. Now I have to tell you that I was never a great camper, and to be perfectly honest about it, the last time I was camping was when we went to Bass Lake somewhere in lower Michigan when I was a Boy Scout way back in the sixties at Bethany Union Church on 103rd Street. Many of my friends enjoyed the outdoor experience, but I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I hated it…

But there were several other members of my patrol who went back year after year and actually became Eagle scouts, something I never accomplished. I just didn’t like the outdoors enough to make the sacrifices necessary to advance to the ultimate level in Scouting. It’s something I regret to this day – kind of like piano lessons. Although I played for years, I gave it up and to this day I wish I had persevered.

So supporting Connor to be active in scouting is something that is important to me. Perhaps he can achieve something I never was able to do. He sure has a heart for it and it’s fun to see him so amped up about his future. He loves camping and sleeping out in tents. In fact, at the tender age of fourteen, he is already something of an outdoor expert – at least in warm weather camping. Which brings us to the point of tonight’s story.

During the holidays, Connor approached me about going camping with him. There really isn’t anyone else in the family who could go with him and I was pleased that he reached out to me. What grandfather wouldn’t be? In this world, it’s not very often that teenagers like to engage with their elders – let alone grandparents. So I gladly agreed to go with him.

Now comes the rest of the story… It turns out that Connor wants to hone his cold weather camping skills and the trip I have agreed to involves camping on the Canadian border in the northernmost parts of Minnesota starting the day after Christmas this coming December! Now he didn’t hide anything from me but if you remember this past Christmas in central Indiana, it was quite mild and I didn’t give it too much thought. However, the last several days it has started to turn cold. Last night I found out the trip is confirmed and the temperature at the campground today is -9 F with a windchill of -22 F – heading down to an actual temperature of -26 tonight. Not exactly balmy weather.

And these kids stay outside in tents, no less! That is unless they build their own shelters out of the snow. They have survival gear to protect them from almost any kind of weather that could befall them. The problem is I don’t have any of it… And that means, of course, that I have to go out and get outfitted from head to toe, including a sleeping bag and everything else a person needs to survive. I am told that they can provide almost everything at the camp but you really don’t think I would take a chance, do you? By the way, isn’t the scout motto, “Be prepared?”

There are several ways to do this: heated cabin, tents, etc. but Connor has picked the “build your own shelter in the snow” option. Of course, he has… What else is new? I don’t do cross country skiing or snow shoeing through the countryside, but I used to ice fish with my best friend, Bob Thompson, years ago. I think I gave it up because it got so cold… this could be a real novel trip for me.

So I can approach this one of two ways – I can worry about it all year or I can embrace it as a challenge and a shared experience that will forever link Connor and me, assuming we survive. I have to admit that it is a little like a cloud hanging over my head, but I am trying to take the high road and figure that I have almost a year to get in better shape and adequately prepare for the journey. I do, however, figure that I have a really good shot at “Grandfather of the Year” upon our return. And I am not without a little worry about the whole thing..

The verse for tonight is from the gospel of Matthew. We are told, in Matt. 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” That’s great advice for me this evening. I will take it one day at a time and see what happens. My encouragement this evening is that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I’m counting on that. My prayer is that Connor and I will be safe and sound in the palm of God’s hand and it will truly be a memorable experience that we will recall with fondness for many years to come. Prayers from the rest of you are welcome as well! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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