My parents divorced when I was 8 years old. My mother picked me up from second grade during the last week of school and told me that we were going on a trip. She had a suitcase packed for each of us and she had a taxi waiting for us outside. I asked my mom why dad wasn’t going with us and I don’t remember her exact words, but it was evident he was not part of the trip. Yes, living in a cramped apartment with two parents who fought all of the time was very stressful for me, but not a stressful for what was about to transpire in my life.
Being uprooted from my childhood, now living thousands of miles away from my father without friends or familiarity, I was bitter and angry that my mom just pulled me away like that. I suppose my father could have pressed charges against her for doing that, but he later told me that if I had to live with only one parent than I should be with my mother. What I really wanted was BOTH of my parents whom I loved, but who were no longer going be together. Those first few years apart were very difficult for both me and my mother. And for the sake of getting to the point of this story, let it suffice to say that I now had limited access to a strong father figure to guide me through my adolescence, and as a result, I got into a lot more trouble than usual.
Fortunately, a man came into my life named Fred Davis. Fred was a member of my mother’s and my religious faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints https://www.lds.org/ otherwise known as the “Mormons.” “Brother Davis” as we referred to him, spent most of my years as a youth, involved with our Church sponsored Scouting program. Before I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, I had spent a total of 7 spring breaks from 6th grade until my senior year in High School in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York on 50 Mile hikes alongside brother Davis, not to mention the countless other scouting activities. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/fifty.aspx.
And after all those years of campouts, and hikes, and merit badges, here are just a few of the lessons Brother Davis taught me that I have since taken into manhood to help me along my personal journey of life.
- Take care of and appreciate nature.
- Sing a song and sing it with heart.
- Never leave a straggling hiker behind.
- Be frugal with your money.
- Don’t be ashamed to pray towards a higher power for thanks and help.
- Start your day early in the morning (I’m still working on this one).
- Being prepared pays off.
- Don’t use foul language (I could do better here, too:)).
- Learn from last year to improve for next year.
- Finish what you start.
- Know how to improvise when necessary.
- Appreciate simple things.
- Love God.
- Lead by example.
- Serve others selflessly without asking for anything in return.
Ironically, Brother Davis never personally achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, but that way he described its value and importance to us kids, he made it sound like achieving it was like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. And because of Brother Davis and other leaders who selflessly gave of their time to serve our Boy Scout Troop, I was able to complete my Eagle Scout rank which gave me a solid college level education before I ever graduated from High School.
Many years later I had a bitter sweet conversation with his Brother Davis’ daughter who informed me that her father had passed away from the cancer. She confided in me after his death that she was jealous that her father spent so much time involved in the Boy Scout program, but she felt good that her father’s influence was helping so many other people. I told her that her father’s selfless service would continue to live on through the lives of the countless young men that he mentored throughout the years. I am a better man because of Brother Davis being there for me when I was an angry, troubled young boy.
Thank you Brother Davis.
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