Michael Brought his Scouting Skills to Switzerland

Michael in climbing gearMy name is Michael, and I am a 10th grader at Pace Academy in Atlanta.  I have been involved in Scouting in the Scouting since the 1st grade. I am currently a member of Troop 467 and I’m preparing for my Eagle Board of Review in January.

For the last ninety days I have been studying abroad in a Swiss village called Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn with no technology at all: no internet, no laptop, no phone. The things I learned as a Boy Scout helped me significantly during my semester abroad in many ways, of which I would like to point out two.

Boy Scouts taught me to never stop going, physically and mentally. On our first day in Switzerland, we were taken for a 0.75 mile hike up the Matterhorn Training Course. While to most people in Scouting, myself included this distance probably sounds trivial for a hike, but a tiny detail would dictate otherwise. It’s 0.75 at a 45o incline on a muddy trail. My group of six people stood at the base of the trail nervously. When the guide asked for a volunteer to go first, I immediately stepped forward. Unadjusted to the altitude, my inflated sense of confidence internally crumbled to dust within the first twenty feet. As my Troop’s Historian, however, I understood poignantly that the future is what you make of it by your actions in the present.  I also  knew from Boy Scouts that the guy who quits first, loses first. I was determined, I could not stop, never mind the silent screams of pain emanating from my legs. Finally, we reached the top of the course, having accomplished our first baptism by fire!  Everyone shouted a heroic, loud scream.

Michael on a mountaintop in Switzerland

Boy Scouts taught me how to stay calm and deal with medical emergencies. One day my friends and I were skiing on our favorite route and noticed something funny. The area wasn’t groomed as is normal, and instead was pockmarked by moguls, a very difficult ski terrain. Though one of my friends, Franklin, was a beginner, he insisted on skiing the path anyway, saying “what could possibly go wrong”. Within about fifteen minutes, Murphy’s Law decided to answer his question. Franklin’s edges got caught on one of the moguls, and he flew like the namesake of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song “Free Bird”. Upon impact, I noticed he had the telltale signs of a concussion, which I learned by having reread the First Aid merit badge pamphlet a thousand times on a car ride when I forgot my copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though not necessary for the given injury, I felt relieved that I had my BSA pocket first aid kit on me, (which for that matter, never left my ski jacket the entire semester). With one classmate in front and another behind, we safely carried Franklin down to the ski center. As we had no technology, I used my limited knowledge of French to borrow a phone to call our headmaster, and our group on the next ski lift down.

Michael is an Eagle Scout Candidate from Troop 467 at Pace Academy in Atlanta, GA.