Home > Communication, Youth > Oh, Yes I Did!: Doing More Than Keeping Up

Oh, Yes I Did!: Doing More Than Keeping Up

S (mybrightspots) is an articulate mother of three who shares my enthusiasm for communicating with precision. Our similarities don’t end there, as you’ll see below, but there’s a heck of a lot more to see of her over on her blog. I hope you’ll check her out there!

graduation 3

Doing More Than Keeping Up

When I was fourteen years old, not much older than my daughter is now, I was a member of a Boy Scout’s Explorer Post (Posts are co-ed). I had a severe crush on a really cute, freckle-faced, red-haired guy in the Post named Eric. Gawd, he was gorgeous. His smile made my heart melt. {Side note: my husband of twenty-one years is also a lover of redheads. I guess that makes us a good match.}

I, of course, was painfully shy and extremely childish in my attraction to him. I’d snatch his stuff and refuse to give it back. I’d take lots of pictures of him, to such a degree that he started hiding from me. I dreamed of being his girlfriend but I was clueless how to make that happen. I thought the world of him.

The summer after eighth grade, I was old enough to join the Post on a two week backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Philmont is one of the highlights of a Boy Scout’s opportunities. We had a large crew of fourteen people. My grandparents and parents were the adult leaders. Of the kids, there were two girls and eight boys, including Eric.

Most, if not all, of the boys had gone the year before and were old hands at this. I was determined to show them I was as capable as them. As a result, I always worked hard to stay near the front of the group, to never look tired, to never back down.

One day, we approached the base of a long, steep canyon. Bear Canyon had a reputation as a brutal climb. Looking up, I could see why. It was rocky and barren and steep and had no shade. The campsite we were to stay at after reaching the top had no water. For this reason, we had to stop at an old pump faucet at the bottom and collect all the water we would need for that night and the next morning.

Since I was on the water crew for the day, the guys decided that I should carry the large water bag. I can’t remember now how big the bag was. I think it held 3 gallons, or about 25 pounds of water. They opened the top of my pack and settled the water into place. They grinned like Cheshire Cats as they watched me struggle to lift the pack and sling it onto my shoulders. I bent my knees and leaned forward so I could heft the heavy pack up enough to buckle it at my hips. Standing up, I staggered backwards slightly as I acclimated to the new weight and feel. I was now carrying over half my body weight on my back.

Trying not to sound vulnerable or incapable, I asked, “Is someone going to take this from me part of the way up?” I wasn’t the only person on the water crew, after all.

“If you can keep up!” said Eric, with a twinkle in his eye and his smile showing off those dimples. With that, the boys laughed and took off up the hill. There was no need to stay together as there were no side trails for people to get lost on.

I glared at their backs before starting up the trail. I picked a comfortable pace and settled in. At the first tiny patch of shade, I slowed down just enough to fish my water bottle out of my pack. From that point on, I didn’t stop. I plodded along, sipping water without stopping. I fell into a trance of sorts that has become my salvation on many backpacking trips since. I could have walked forever in that state. I was tired and I was hot but I just. Kept. Walking.

When I rounded a bend, I saw my group of tormenters sitting on a log, taking a break. There was my chance to hand off the water. It’d be fair. It’d be reasonable. It’d be a relief. It’d be letting them win.

I walked past without saying a word. I didn’t even look their direction. It’s like they weren’t there. I think I heard one of them call my name but I walked on. I had made up my mind. Not only was I going to show them I could keep up, I was going to beat them. Beat them while carrying all that extra weight.

And that’s exactly what I did. The last fifty yards was a steep climb. As I crested the top, I saw the three guys who had beaten me to the top and who were not, incidentally, part of the group that had challenged me to keep up. They were playing a game of cards in the shade of a large tree.

“Hurry up!” called Eric’s older brother, Kelly. “Throw off your pack. Come here, sit down!”

They made room for me in their circle, quickly tossed me some cards, and allowed me to pretend to have been sitting there playing cards for some time. I had to carefully regulate my breathing because Eric and his band were mere minutes behind me.

Kelly called out to his brother when they arrived, “Man, what took you guys so long? She’s been up here for ages!”

This event was one of the highlights of my time as a teenager. I learned perseverance and strength and determination. I learned not to let someone’s assumptions about my gender shape my accomplishments. I was always headstrong and convinced I could do anything the boys could do. But this event proved me right and I swelled with pride at my accomplishment.

 last : The Challenge in NO | You Will Not Be A Good Mother (3/21/14) : next

  1. March 14, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Very cute story! I like your spirit! It sounds like something I would have done, too–we can’t let anyone get the best of us! 😉

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you. I just read your story about your Halloween prank as a kid. I was way too much of a goody two-shoes to ever do such a thing but I loved your story and your grandma’s way of teaching you a lesson! 🙂

      • March 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        Thank you! My grandmother was a real prankster, too! 🙂

  2. March 14, 2014 at 11:04 am

    What a terrific story! I enjoyed reading it and getting an extra boost for my day. 🙂 XOXO-SWM

  3. March 14, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I wasn’t on the hike, but I remember that crush and that story. It is wonderful to hear it told in retrospect through the eyes of the extraordinary woman you have become. Thanks for sharing.

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Isn’t it interesting what a few years… or decades… does to your perspective? I try not to think about how ridiculous that crush must have looked to those around me at the time. 🙂

  4. March 15, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Anyone who knows you now, would NEVER have bet against you back then. I enjoyed the story even though at the bottom of the climb I knew you would carry the water all the way to the top

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      So you know just how stubbornly stupid I can be, huh? 😀

  5. March 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Great story and awesome ending to a seemingly frustrating beginning. You should be proud of your 14-year-old self’s attitude, changing a situation from one that some 14-year-olds may choose to give up in into a challenge to prove yourself. Good for that group of boys in the end for siding with you. Thanks for sharing!

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      You know, I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back, I truly am impressed with those boys at the top. Kelly might have just been looking for anything to hold over his brother’s head, but still, it was a great gesture on their parts.

  6. maurnas
    March 16, 2014 at 7:10 am

    This is exactly the type of stubborn feminist that I am too. If someone says I cant do something I will break my back doing it just to show them.

    • March 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      I’ve toned it down quite a bit over the years. My mother used to get so frustrated with me. I was the kind of girl that couldn’t even accept that girls can’t pee standing up. I’d try anyway, just to prove my brother wrong… and then my mom would make me clean up the mess I made! lol

      • maurnas
        March 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

        They have a disposable paper cone now. You can totally pee standing up!

        • March 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

          I restrained myself two comments ago when I wanted to comment TMI! And now, this, definitely TMI. Next you’ll be discussing the Diva Cup, and I’ll never come back. Thank you, Ladies

          • March 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

            LOL… Ah, dear friend… Did we make you blush? 😉 And as you can see below, I totally went farther before I saw your comment, but I somehow doubt I’ve actually driven you away. Maybe from checking this thread… but… 😉

        • March 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

          You know, I just had a conversation with a woman today who purchased a plastic funnel device with a plastic hose that women can use to pee without even removing their pants. She’s going on a water rafting trip and didn’t want to be forced to wade into the water. I’ve actually learned to pee while standing up (sort of) while outdoors but hitting a toilet would still be out of reach without a cone of some sort! 🙂

  7. March 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I absolutely cherish the determination of this story. This shows what any of us can do when we set our minds to it, fabulous. It also shows how easily we might find a place at the table when we don’t grovel for it.

    Love this one, thank you.

  8. July 27, 2016 at 5:35 am

    AWESOME!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 love stories like this one 🙂 (and I liked that the guys let you play cards to make it that much cooler)

  1. March 14, 2014 at 7:15 am

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