I had the chance to spend this past week out of town. Rather than be at work or even at home in front of my computer, I went up to the hills around Mt. Jefferson to camp with the Boy Scouts at Camp Pioneer. With the exception of a little misty/drizzly weather on Sunday, it was a fantastic week! We had sun, clear skies, warm weather, and more than enough fun and excitement to go around.
The program at this particular camp is geared incredibly well for the scouts. There is a "Scoutmaster Merit Badge" for adult leaders to pursue - it keeps the adults busy all week long so they stay out of the scouts' hair and let them do their own thing. There are also ample opportunities to leaders to make fools of themselves for the scouts' benefit - a Scoutmaster Belly Flop Competition, a Scoutmaster Armada (a canoe race where the competitors have to jump out and back into their canoes on command), and much more.
A few of us even banded together for some more service-based activities. When you enter camp, there's a vintage 1930s shed along the road marked, "Flammables." This was the original generator shed, and is now used to house paint, gasoline, and other flammable material well away from where the scouts are enjoying their week. Unfortunately, the shed is very old and the roof was in an incredible state of rot and disrepair. Under the leadership of our Scoutmaster, Chris, we climbed on ladders, ripped down the existing roof, replaced rotten rafters, hung plywood, and re-roofed the shed.
It took the better part of 3 days to finish the project, and we spaced our work out with various other camp activities along the way (I had to jump in the lake with my boots on, the Scoutmaster swam a mile, we both competed in a "marathon," and so on). All-in-all, we invested over 150 working hours between the 4 of us completing the project. I hope it will stand the test of time and keep the ancient shed useable for years to come.
At the same time, a Scoutmaster from another troop took on yet another project. He designed a new deck for the camp store that would give space for pedestrians and allow wheelchair access at the same time. When I wasn't working on the roof, I was over lending Russ a hand with his deck. Whether it was leveling the supports, spacing the floor boards, or anchoring handrails, I tried to pitch in whenever and where ever I could.
I felt very accomplished by the time Friday afternoon came around and both projects were labeled "complete." I put in more than 25 hours of labor between the two on top of my other responsibilities during the week. I know both Chris and Russ invested many times that, though.
What impresses me more than just completing the project is the level of humility with which each of these men approached it. We were all offered the chance to win an award for our service. Twenty-five hours or more is a gold award, 50 hours or more a silver. I know Chris spent the majority of his time working, but he only filled out 3 hours on the time sheet - more to appease the camp Ranger than to qualify for the award. Russ avoided praise just as much and consistently credited his assistants for the entire deck project.
Both of these men had an oustanding philosophy towards service, and I'm honored to have worked with them. It reminds me why I got involved in the first place, and reminds me to question my motives whenever I begin any volunteer project. Who exactly am I doing the work for? Is this service to others, or merely a quest to fulfill my own self-agrandizing needs?
What is your "spirit of service?" How do you keep on track?