You probably heard or read this week about Michael A., the twelve-year-old boy who was lost in the North Carolina woods for three days. A rescue dog found him–hurray for the rescue dog! And PEOPLE magazine just reported that “his scout training really helped him” (or so says assistant fire chief Joe Ware).
Now–I’m delighted they found the boy. Honestly. I’m proud of the dog, Gandalf, and his trainer, Misha Marshall.
But I also know kids, having been married to a middle school youth pastor for 26 years. And something about this story just grates on me.
Here are various facts I’ve heard over the week (which may or may not be true, but they were reported in the media):
**Michael didn’t want to go on the boy scout camping trip. Dad said he’d give him five bucks if he came home and didn’t like the trip.
**All the boys get up one morning and take a hike. Michael wants to sleep late and won’t get up. So they leave an adult at the camp with him.
**All the boys come back and eat lunch. Michael eats with the boys, then he disappears.
**Reportedly, Michael thought he’d hike out to a road and hitchhike home. But he got lost.
**How lost? He was found a half-mile from his troop’s camp. He asks for a helicopter ride, but doesn’t get one. Now he’s worried about makeup schoolwork and wanting to know if anyone got him on TiVo.
What’s wrong with this picture? I’m glad the boy is safe; I’m glad he’s home. I’m grateful for all those people who prayed and worried and worked hard to find him.
But please tell me someone is going to sit this kid down and tell him to FOLLOW THE RULES. If your troop goes on a hike, you get up and go, too. Don‘t go into the woods alone, don’t go off without telling anyone, and DO apologize to all those folks who worried themselves silly over you.
I’ve seen kids come to activities with their minds made up to have a lousy time. They hang back, they don’t participate, and sure enough, they have a lousy time. But they have no one to blame but themselves.
I just hope this kid learns a lesson . . . and that the lesson is not Break the Rules and Become a TV Celebrity!
Sorry to sound like such a curmudgeon. But honestly!