The troop went camping last weekend and it was wonderful. We had a new scout get sucked into a mud hole down by the lake (he did get rescued!), we had a terrific night game and great food. The weather was beautiful as well. But the most remarkable thing to come out of the March, 2006 campout, was an outstanding message from our troop chaplain at the chapel service on Sunday. I wish I could repeat it word for word but he is an amazing young man and his message was not on paper. It was straight from the heart. The message was so relevant, however, I don’t think he would mind me trying to share it with everybody who might stumble across this website. I will try to do it justice.
He started out by saying that he always got sunburned during his family trips to the lake. He said that he was very white, almost never tanned and that he would burn terribly. He said that his brothers and sisters would get a great kick out of slapping his sunburn. Even his dad got in on the act. It hurt. They knew it hurt and they did it anyway.
Then he said that we all have issues that are much like sunburns. When other people find out about the issues that make us uncomfortable, they enjoy slapping “the sunburn”. They bring up those issues and throw them in our faces, knowing beforehand that we are sensitive about those issues. People who wear glasses, people who are short, people who are overweight, people who can’t afford the latest styles of clothing, people who are slow and not athletic, etc. We are all sensitive to some things and people use the knowledge of that sensitivity to hurt our feelings. Sometimes they don’t understand how badly we hurt inside about those issues, but sometimes they do understand exactly what they are doing.
Our chaplain reminded us that some of those issues are beyond our control like size and speed and weight. Some things can be corrected and some can’t. He encouraged us to deal logically with the things that we cannot change and not react negatively when people try to “slap our sunburn.” I think he was telling us that we should have more respect for each other than to use our personal and often sensitive issues as a tool to put each other down.
It was a great message. For all those people who think one of the laws of the universe is that adults talk and children listen, and that adults teach and children learn, I’d like to point out that that is not always the case. Just as evident in this chapel service, I continue to learn a great deal through the eyes of the scouts I am supposed to be teaching. Sometimes, quite often as a matter of fact, the scouts are wonderful teachers themselves.
I was so lucky last Sunday to have this young man share some of his wisdom with me.
Message…”Don’t slap someone’s sunburn.”
© Bill Shaffer 2006