I was fortunate to earn the Eagle Scout award at the young age of fifteen. Earning this award was very exciting as it was something I worked toward for five years since starting Scouting at the age of ten. While Boy Scouts was very much fun and filled with great experiences, there were events that challenged me and grew me as a person. One such event was the first year I went to Scout camp. The camp our Boy Scout troop attended was held at Cherokee Hills. This week of camp was the first time I had been away from home by myself for that length of time. I had fun with the other boys in our troop at camp and I liked the activities and working on merit badges but I got homesick. It was rough for me, especially early in the morning. I was so glad when “Parents Night” came on Thursday night and I got to see my mom and dad. After that night we just had a couple days and I’d be back home.
While the first experience was difficult, it forced me to get out and experience different things. From this point, I looked forward to future Scout Camps and other new experiences. Leaving home, while never really easy when I was younger but it was good for me to get away from home from time to time. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 1989 National Boy Scout Jamboree a few years after my first Scout Camp. It was there that I got to see President George H. W. Bush speak. I also go to hear from Steven Spielberg. It was a fascinating trip for a fourteen year old boy.

Through the years I’ve been blessed to travel around much of the U.S. and internationally to Germany, Jamaica and Brazil. Traveling and having experiences that gets us out of the norm is good for us to “broaden our horizons.” For example, I led two different mission teams to Brazil through youth ministry. These were wonderful trips that challenged me both as a Christian and as a leader. Spending time in a different culture helps to grow us in our understanding of others and helps to develop our character.

If you have never taken the opportunity to get away for a week or two to camp or mission trip, get out there and have some experiences…make some memories! You won’t regret it.