There’s Nothing Better than Winning – Except – Trying Your Best and Having Fun
I have always been exceptionally competitive. I do not remember a time when I was not trying to beat someone in athletics, academics, or at a random game of Monopoly. Once upon a time, I played team sports. Soccer, basketball, and baseball. All the way through college. And, for my entire adult life and business career, I’ve been in sales. Enough said. It does not get any more competitive than that.
My older boys have done even more. AAU and travel teams. Weekend tournaments in different States. Multiple teams that have won State and Regional championships. My guess is that many of you have given the same kind of “support” to your kids. In all of those environments, winning means so much.
But something different that I’ve never experienced was thrust upon me this past week. With only one day’s notice, on Saturday I ended up at a completely different kind of event. For my son who does not care for athletics, but who truly loves being a Boy Scout, I ended up at the Klondike Derby at Camp Yawgoog in Rockville, RI.
The agenda included events like log tossing, axe throwing, tent building, and sled racing. Traversing the snowy woods for four plus hours. I was not sure what I was in for. I was much more used to parents screaming at umpires, yelling at coaches, and inappropriately berating their kids. Did I mention that in my experience, the parents were the ones who created much of the chaos?
Camp Yawgoog was an incredibly remarkable and unexpectedly beautiful little slice of heaven.
The parents were tremendously supportive. The boys were even better. Every boy I observed was just as you would hope every Boy Scouts to be. Respectful, courteous, cheerful, kind, helpful, and friendly. They were competing. Fifteen stations of various activities. But as far as I encountered, every Scout handled it just the “right” way.
Not that that they were perfect. I know that the most important thing for a Boy Scout is being prepared. Well…. There were compasses that were forgotten. There were pop-up snow ball fights that got them distracted. There was a lack of what sales people call time-and-territory management that left my son’s team crisscrossing the multiple acres employing the zigzag pattern. There was a boy (ok…my son) who threw the axe so far over the haystack that it took 5 minutes to find it in the 3-foot bank of snow beyond the target.
I seriously wondered if some of them could find their way across a street with an old lady.
But, here’s the strange thing. I’ve truly never been involved in an event that I think taught those that were there so very much. From my perspective, whether they knew it or not, the boys learned about teamwork, cooperation, leadership, problem solving, planning, perseverance, and, having fun.
And, here’s the great thing. I did not hear one parent complain. No one cried over a ground ball that went through his legs. Not one participant sulked or grumbled about not winning. Unlike some of my other boys who did not win their sporting events, on this day, my Boy Scout son did not spend the entire ride home being despondent about not getting a trophy or a medal.
At the end of the event, the Scouts had the obligatory presentation of awards. And again, here’s the unique thing. No one complained. No parents yelled at the officials. Everyone cheered for everybody who did well. A total sense of comradely spirit amongst all that were involved. Support, encouragement, authenticity, and genuine good-will. Wow!
Competition in the human experience is both important and necessary. It keeps all of us moving forward and reaching for the highest levels of accomplishment in all important areas of life. But hopefully, in my new-found Boy Scout experience, that should never be sacrificed at the expense of simply doing your best and having fun.
What was my best take-away from the day? Easy. Late in the “competition” one of the older boys in our troop asked, “Do you think we’ll win?”
The youngest lad in the troop said something amazing, in the “drop-the-mic” line of the day and, a sentiment that I will never forget.
“Guys, remember, we’ll always win if we just have fun.”
Go Boy Scouts.