I’m in the midst of a week long camping trip on Catalina Island with my 11 year old son. He’s a 1st year Boy Scout and is being challenged like never before. Sleeping outside, riding mountain bikes on 7 mile challenges, rowing canoes for 5 miles, eating camp food. Far from the comforts of Pacific Palisades, CA.
The first night was brutal. He was assigned to a tent with a friend, but the tent was more of a shelter than an actual tent. No walls, just a roof. The camp is notoriously infested with red foxes who rummage through the tents at night looking for random Kit Kat and Snicker bars. Dads and other adults sleep in a different camp. The boys are on their own.
My son was really anxious as bedtime approached. My words of comfort did little good. After several attempts to calm him, I tried something different. I brought up our favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I asked him how Big Ben and Troy Polomalu might feel on the first day of training camp. He said he thought they might be stressed, knowing the coming week would be really tough. I asked him about all of the time Ben and Troy had put in all of their lives leading up to that moment. About all of the pain, tears, injuries, sacrifices. He started to think about all of the challenges that his heroes had faced in their journeys. He began to feel better and made it through that rough first night.
So as much as I would love to be his role model, that will have to wait until he is older. For now, his role models are Big Ben and Troy P. He worships them. They inspire him. Whether they know it or not, they do the same for thousands of kids all over the country. They are his role models, and I’m grateful that he has them to inspire him.
We are now more than half way through the week on the island. Things are going great. He is having the time of his life, and doing things I never thought I would see him do. Thanks Ben and Troy. I owe you one.