This past week I had the awesome opportunity to participate in three amazing days of training in “the ways of the scout”. The scout is a member of any tribe who acts as a protector for their people. Not through direct physical confrontation, but through reconnaissance, awareness, and stealth.
In modern times, we might try to compare the scout to a CIA spy, or sniper. The true task of the scout is to gather information about the surrounding area and its inhabitants. The scout does this by developing the skills of camouflage, stealthy movement, and awareness.
After some instruction in camouflage basics and stealthy movement, we played some games to develop our sensory and movement skills, which included a giant game of 4-way Capture the Flag.
For our final day, we were given a mission that would test our skills to the max. We broke up into 2 teams, and were given maps and orders to get to a house marked on the map, without being seen, and collect as much information about what was going on there as possible, then report back.
We applied our camouflage, and headed out. Moving quickly at first, and slower and lower to the ground as we approached the intended house. Fanning out to collect as much information as possible, we each belly-crawled into position and dug in for the day.
I won’t give away too much of the mission, for those of you who may participate in this event in the future. I will say that the exercise evoked emotions from exhilaration to utter boredom, sensations of damp cold to the tickling of insects, and an overall experience of the kind of fun and excitement that can only come from a day spent pushing your comfort zone and testing your abilities.
By the time we made it back to camp to debrief the exercise and complete the week, our group was buzzing as we shared our individual stories, trials and triumphs.
When I look back at the week and what I am walking away with, I am present to the increased level of self-confidence and trust I have in my expanded abilities to focus all of my senses for long stretches of time. I was able to stay on task without becoming distracted for hours on end. My mind was quiet and alert. My body was able to be comfortable enough in damp, cold, and dirty conditions. I surprised myself in my ability to move through a dense forest undetected, and to pick up on very subtle sights, sounds, and intuition to evade others, or to find them.
I think one of the greatest abilities that we as human animals have lost through the process of our own modernization, is our awareness. The amount of time we spend “zoned-out” or going through the motions of life on auto pilot is extreme. So to take three days and sink into the mindset and skills of the scout. Where your survival, as well as the survival of your people relies on you catching extremely subtle clues at unexpected times.
When we are that present and aware, we feel truly alive. If I could share only one thing with you from my week, it would be my overwhelming experience of aliveness. I endeavor to continue my practice of these skills and expand my comfort zone, so that I may continue to experience my aliveness.