How Being a Rover Scout, Helped me Discover My Love of the Iditarod

We joined the BPSA scouts in Sept 2017.

I wanted my kids to participate in scouts. To gain an appreciation of the outdoors that I thought only scouts could provide.

But I was against what was happening politically and socially in the BSA at the time. And I felt like Girl Scouts spent too much time indoors. Plusalso – I did not have time to sell cookies.

And at the time, we only had 1 girl.

Through a series of fateful occurrences, we discovered BPSA.

At the time, E was still L but very much gender creative. So my number one priority when deciding to join a scout group, was that the group had to be welcoming and inclusive. Anything less, and we would have walked away immediately.

My goal for signing my kids up for scouts? So they could gain skills and independence and confidence in the outside world.

At the time, we had gone on 11 camping trips in one year. But it was glamping. We did very little outdoor activities, sleeping under the trees.

My gut knew we were missing out on an opportunity. My husband raves about all the opportunities and life lessons he learned as a Boy Scout. Yet, I felt we were failing our children.

So finally the afternoon of the scout open house arrives. I asked 500 questions. And I soaked up all the information I could.

All meetings outdoor? Rain, snow, or sun? How awesome!

8yr olds working with knives and building fires? So cool!

Backpacking trips, friendship, stories, memories. Inclusivity? We found our tribe.

I had zero intention of becoming a scout leader when we first started. Zilch. Zero. I quit Girl Scouts right after I joined. My mom was my brownie troop leader and still complains about it to this day.

I never started a fire by myself, chopped wood, tied a knot, hiked in the forest. I had zero clue what 10 essentials even meant. Sure, it would be neat to learn these skills. But I didnt need to.

And then the Scout Leaders of the pack we were checking out, told us that they had a waitlist. And the only way to guarantee that your child would get a spot, would be if you (I) volunteered.

My husband looked at me with that all knowing look “why did they say that? Dont you dare do it!”

Sure enough. I volunteered. To be an assistant assistant leader. My job description included making sure the kids were paying attention, not hurting themselves or others, and still apart of the group during a hike.

I did not have to make any plans. Or teach any lessons. I just had to show up. And bring B of course.

I was content. I was learning about the outdoors without self imposed stress of having to teach what I did not know.

But my journey encountered another fork in the road. We were starting a new scout group on the westside. I knew I was going to volunteer in some capacity. I was hoping and aiming for an Aux position.

But as fate would have it, we did not have anyone volunteer to be the Akela for the Timberwolves. Without one, we would have had to put our new group plans on hold.

So guess what? I thought about it for a few seconds, and then volunteered as tribute for pack leader of the 8-11 year olds.

This decision, was scary, and anxiety inducing, and stressful.

But this decision was also exciting, and inspiring, and powerful.

This decision has led me to where I am today.

I may do hours and hours and hours of research for just one 2hr meeting. And I may not be the best public speaker. And I may have grandiose ideas.

But becoming the pack leader has transformed my life in more ways than one.

Besides practicing time management and organization, I am learning how to chop wood to start a fire. I am learning how to tie knots to make shelters. I am learning the best approach to teaching youth how to handle knives.

But, I am also going on my own personal quest. I am learning how to rely on myself. I am gaining confidence in my abilities.

Maybe. Just maybe. I might be able to survive in the world, on my own.

I owe that to my journey as a scout with BPSA.

Which brings me to my love of the world of mushing, and the Iditarod.

I never wanted a husky. My husband did. But fate happened, and we had a chance to bring a husky in to our lives.

Turns out, I am a lover of Huskies. and I will never look back.

Something drew me to the world of Huskies. At the time, I did not understand.

But it is quickly becoming apparent.

I have heard of the Iditarod. But I have never followed it. Let alone soaked up as much information as possible.

What do I find so appealing about a 1000 mile race, across Alaska, crossing frozen rivers, and mountains, thru blizzards and negative temperatures, being pulled by a team of dogs, with only yourself to rely on?

It is the same appeal that I found in my love of scouting.

Every musher, and every scout, has their own story. Of trials. Or triumphs. Of heartbreak and victory. Of persistence. And courage.

Every musher, and every scout, devotes their energy to their craft. Whether it be raising and training dogs. Or practicing knot tying and fire building until you can do it blindfolded.

Ok maybe not building a fire blindfolded.

Every musher, and every scout, is part of something greater than themselves. We all have a community of people we can rely on, that support us thru the bad times and celebrate with us in the good times. We all have a tribe of people that we didnt know we needed, until we met them.

Every musher has a pack of dogs that rely on them.

Every scout leader has a pack of kids that rely on them.

And that is what keeps us going. Knowing that we are part of something bigger.

I will never race in an Iditarod. At least, I do not see that happening in my future. I guess, I should never say never.

But mushing for the enjoyment of mushing, that is something I do see in my future.

But why? Why am I so captivated by these 2 worlds?

When you participate in scouts, you are learning how to survive. Learning how to use the tools you have, and the world around you, to survive. In scouts, you are gaining the foundation to being able to understand the world around you.

Scouts helps nurture and grow confidence in your abilities. Giving you the courage to be self reliant. Knowing that you have the ability to survive, if put in dire situations.

When you compete in the Iditarod, you are putting yourself in dire and grueling situations. You only have yourself to rely on. You have to be confident in your ability to survive whatever is thrown at you. Blizzards, rough terrain, stubborn dogs.

Whatever “it” is, you have to believe in yourself.

And that is powerful.

On the trail, whether you are with others or going solo, it is important to have confidence in yourself, being able to dig deep and find the perseverance when the trail gets hard.

On the trail, you have to have the courage to know when to stop. When going further would do more damage than good. The courage to not give up, but accepting it is OK to finish before the finish line.

It is not about winning. It is about doing your best. Achieving your personal goals. Surpassing what you thought you could achieve.

And knowing that you can do whatever you put your mind to.

And that is why I love being a Rover Scout. And why I dream of the Iditarod.

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