Pastor John’s View
I knew it was going to be a great camp out when we piled out of the cars at Lockwood Springs to see a black bear loping away from the springs. Lockwood Springs was a favorite spot for Boy Scout Troop 33, and I was an assistant senior patrol leader that year.
Boy, were we excited at the rare treat to see a bear! Well, everyone but Lyndall Rhodes, that is. He wasn’t even a tenderfoot, but that would describe him. He showed up for the camp out with a jacket, a brown paper bag with his Friday dinner, and a flashlight. Someone scrounged him a sleeping bag right before we left town. Lyndall had only been to one meeting and then showed up for the camp out – at least he had his own dinner, though one of us should have checked what he brought. Lyndall was from New York City….shoulda’ been a clue.
Friday night was always “bring your own dinner” and some cooked but most of the boys brought peanut butter sandwiches. We assigned Lyndall to a patrol and then we, senior patrol leaders along with the rest of the youth leadership, went a little way away to set up our camp. Experience goes a long way in having a comfortable camp-just away from the younger boys. The adults set up their camp even further away on the other side of the little meadow.
After setting up camp, we meandered back to the campfire circle and made a cursory check on the three patrol campsites. They looked adequate, but we thought they were a bit close to the fire. The boys said they didn’t want to get cold, so we let it go. Looking around, we discovered Lyndall in an oak tree just outside the camp area. He wouldn’t come down, afraid the bear would return. After a bit of coaxing, we got him down and he set about fixing his dinner. No one gave it any thought, well, we did continue teasing him about the bear coming back.
After a rousing game of capture the flag in the dark and recovering from the battle wounds of tripping over rocks and logs in the dark and a few fights over the flag (“We got your flag fair and square” – “No, you didn’t!”), it was time for the campfire songs and stories. Dr. Beal, our Scoutmaster, always had the best stories! Then it was time for ‘lights out’. Little did we know, Lyndall had an unintentional surprise waiting for us.
Lyndall was back up in the tree, too afraid to crawl into his sleeping bag and after a few taunts from his patrol, things started quieting down. Over in the youth leader camp, we were already dozing off when it happened. There was a loud “BOOM” over toward the center of the camp and as we jerked up, we looked over and it was like fireworks had gone off. There were sparkles in the air settling down on the camp. Of course, we jumped up and rallied to put out all the little fires starting in tents and sleeping bags, but what caused the fire to explode?
Then we started noticing corn kernels all over the ground. Turns out, Lyndall had brought a can of corn to go along with his dinner, so he set in a corner of the fire ring to warm up. He just never thought to OPEN it first and it finally reached critical mass as the water inside the can reached the steaming point. Thankfully, none of the boys were burned…rats, lost opportunity to have tried out our first-aid skills.
That was the last anyone saw of Lyndall Rhodes. He never returned to another meeting or camp out. Here’s the deal; we didn’t disciple Lyndall very well. We teased him and took advantage of his inexperience. Looking back, is it any wonder he never came back?
It’s May 2019. There are many people moving into our community who have never been in church, been away from church, or think church isn’t for them. As we disciple them, let’s not use the Troop 33 method. TNT, concerts, Wednesday lunches, exercise classes, Bible studies and other activities provide us a great way to bring a friend into a very low-key (read that non-threatening) environment centered on fun and social activity, before we invite them into a more formal worship setting. Patience, persistence, compassion, courage, and generosity are keys to making those new friends and then helping them feel comfortable in what can be a very uncomfortable situation as they attend a worship service. Welcoming is the first step in discipling someone in the faith and one we can all do. Keep your eyes peeled for those neighborhood newcomers and take them to TNT.