PART 1 - bENCOURAGEd to: be a Happy Camper

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

Tuesday's Tip to bENCOURAGEd...

A trip to a jungle does not make you Tarzan’s wife. As we began to unload our gear a more experienced camper paired the rest of us with our camping mates. My teammate, Jane, had recently returned from a three week trip to the Amazon rainforest. Jane shared with the group stories of pitching her six-man tent in a remote region of the river basin, boating in native canoes, and sharing an environment with exotic wildlife. Since this was my first camping/canoe trip I was thankful that our leader teamed me with “Jungle Jane” for our Missouri outdoor adventure.

Our night in the tent was an unexpected experience. “Jungle Jane” took charge as she rolled out her massive temporary house. She surveyed our campsite near the river and confidently selected a dirt foundation near a large tree. With much instruction I became her personal assistant as we raised the tent and secured it to the ground. After dinner our group dispersed to our sleeping quarters. All was quiet and cozy in our roomy canvas home until I awoke to the sound of raindrops rapidly pelting our cloth ceiling.

Secure with the thought that this tent had just traversed one of the wettest areas in the whole world I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. Suddenly, I felt movement under my sleeping bag. It was as if someone was rolling marbles underneath my body. Then one by one the foundational pegs holding our tent in place popped loose. As I looked up from the horizontal position, me and my sleeping bag had become mobile and rammed into my roommate. I let out a scream as we both toppled over each other with our tent collapsing around us. At this point both the tent and the two of us were a muddy mess. During the flood we apparently slid down a small embankment that was just on the other side of the tree next to the choice location “Jungle Jane” had picked the day before. Leaving the jumbled mess of mud, cloth, and hardware we grabbed two tarps from our group supplies, covered up, and laid down in the bed of a friend’s pick-up for the rest of the night.

We discovered the next morning that our tent was the only casualty of the storm and that the rest of the team were rested for a full day of canoeing. Dawning mud caked skin and hair we ate a quick breakfast accompanied by snickers and giggles from our teammates. We then made our way to the river to rinse off our shame.

At the river’s edge our guide had assessed experience levels from our group and again I was paired with “Jungle Jane”. Putting the memory of current events behind me I leaned on “Jungle Jane’s” knowledge of canoeing. Our group launched prior to a Boy Scout troop allowing us to pull ahead giving each group their privacy. Having never been in a canoe before I did not understand tandem rowing forward, backwards, or turning. For this I mistakenly relied on my trusted teammate - of whom was rapidly losing my trust. Back, forth, sideways - these were all random directions that the river took us. Canoeing, proved to be another skill “Jungle Jane” had not perfected in the Amazon Rainforest Region.

Because of our erratic boating the Boy Scout troop began to pass us, but that was not my biggest concern. The day before our camp leader gave us a quick lesson on river snakes. He mentioned that Water Moccasins are common in Missouri rivers. Although these snakes can be dangerous - the real danger can come from their babies, because when they are scared they cannot control their venom. The bite of a scared baby Moccasin can be fatal. Already not a fan of any kind of snake I was extremely concerned when a scout trooper hollered from his canoe, “Baby Moccasin, crossing. Let him pass!”. I became very concerned.

As that foot long baby snake made its way towards my canoe I began tallying up the lack of experience among myself and “Jungle Jane” - I then made a decision. “Jungle Jane” started giving me advice, but all her words became muted as I stared down the swimming reptile. It was up to me. No skills, no back-up, no knowledge - I rose up in the canoe with my paddle above my head. Snake insight, I closed my eyes and began beating the water and screaming - “Die! You crazy snake!”. Our boat rocked back and forth somehow staying a float. The scouts’ laughter and yelling from my teammates were all background noise to me. I was still beating the water about a mile later when I finally realized what had happened.

Once back to the campsite I silently packed up my things, shook the hands of my team leader and agreed with his parting words, “Maybe I should not have paired you with Jane.” He and I both realized that day that skills are not based on where you have been, but rather what you can do with the knowledge of where you have been. And that weekend the knowledge of tents, canoes, and wildlife was lost on a lady known as “Jungle Jane”.


As I reflect on my memories of that camping trip the words “Happy Camper” do not come to mind. The word happy comes from the word happenings and my happenings with “Jungle Jane” were not happy ones. As you can imagine based on me sharing this story there were many reasons for this conclusion. I can not go back and change who I was partnered with on that camping trip, but I can be proactive with future happenings to create a more pleasant experience and so can you.

I have learned that many times a “Happy Camper” experience comes from who you take on your trip. In my book FLIGHT I refer to this as INVOLVE THOSE NEEDED. One way to help us determine who will be a great member on our teams is “STOW to Go”. Being a “Happy Camper” is heavily influenced by the word


Let us breakdown the word STOW:

S - Strengths: When we consider someone, we must assess that person’s strengths in relationship to the God-given dream that we are fulfilling. A person may be a genius physician, but we may need someone with stellar auto mechanic skills; for this reason, that physician would not be a good fit. Or, what if we already had three very analytical people on our team, then we might want to consider bringing on someone who is more artistically creative. We should consider how this person would work alongside the other people on the team. Skills are important, but so is team dynamic. When we first consider what strengths we need to help us reach our destinations -whether in skill or personality - we will better recognize when people with those strengths come into our lives.

I like to say it this way - Think about a circle of chairs. - If your God-given dream was in the middle of that circle who would you need around it to help you get that God-given dream off of the ground. Label each seat with different skills or strengths needed to fulfill that God-given dream. Then start filling up those seats with people who possess those strengths and the willingness to submit to your vision.

Is it that simple?

Yes and no. We are just getting started. Join me next week as I share more about STOW to Go. bENCOURAGEd Today that no matter what the adventure we can be a “Happy Camper” one God-given dream at a time.

GO TO PART 2 ----->

Inspirational and practical tips through


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