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Jul 11, 2019
Yeah, those scoutmasters messed up big time. No denying that. But let's not be critical of ALL scoutmasters.
The trip was poorly conceived, poorly planned, and poorly executed. They blew it.

However, let's keep in mind there are scout groups having successful, fun, and meaningful outdoor experiences every single month. We never hear about most of them, because most end without incident. Frankly, it's pretty astonishing that volunteer people lead groups of boys, and don't have MORE problems. I think that speaks well of the preparation of most of these people, who just serve because they are called to.

Several years ago (2013 I think?) I proposed the idea for a YM activity canoeing to Shoshone Lake in the Yellowstone backcountry. I made a presentation to the stake, and they approved our request. We planned all the details, got all the permits, and acquired the appropriate equipment. Each canoe had at least one moderately-experienced canoeist.

Despite all the planning, preparation, and experience, nature can still have its way. As we were about leaving, our bishop promised the boys that if they followed their leaders and the established rules, they would be safe.

To get to Shoshone, you start off in Lewis Lake, near the south gate of the park. You canoe across the lake, then follow the far shore until you reach the Lewis River channel. You continue up the channel until the current becomes too strong (about 2 miles up the channel). Then you hop out of your canoes, and pull them the remaining mile to Shoshone Lake, which is the second largest lake in Yellowstone. It's only accessible by canoe, or by hiking/horseback riding in.

Because it's such a large lake, when the wind kicks up, it can get dangerously choppy. We started into Shoshone, and after about a half mile (with about 3.5 miles to go to our camp), the swells got pretty bad--dangerously bad. We had to pull onto shore, and wait out the windstorm.

After a wait, we decided to have a prayer. We knelt on the sandy/rocky shore in a big circle, we asked the Lord to calm the weather so we could make it to our campsite. The winds died down, and we once again headed out, but kept close to shore, and we did indeed make it to our campsite without further incident. I fully believe the Lord answered our prayers, and kept us safe.

The end result was 3 nights camping in the backcountry, excellent fishing, mosquitoes of biblical-plague proportions, and an awesome experience each of those boys will always remember. I'm really glad for all the leaders who were willing to use their time and resources to volunteer.





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