Once many years ago I got lost. It was awful- let me tell you about it. It was during my fifth year of girls camp and I was a YCL (youth camp leader). For those of you out there unfamiliar with girl’s camp, all 16 and 17 year old girls are assigned to a different ward and act as assistant leaders for that ward, and for the whole stake. Part of my YCL duties included going on the second year hike with the 14 year old girls and a few leaders. This hike had to be 4 miles long and we had to cook a meal on the trail. We started out at 8AM and hiked for two miles, we stopped to cook breakfast then continued the hike. It was around the third mile that things started figuratively going downhill.
The person leading the hike was a very experienced woman who had spend literally decades hiking the trails in the region both by herself and with her husband. There was one problem though, she has really bad self esteem. So when the girls started feeling tired they started complaining, and the ill-advised cries of “we’re lost!” came from one or two voiciferous girls who hoped that making such statements would get them back to camp faster. The other leaders, who were not familiar with the area (and oddly enough were all men), heard these declarations and ‘held a meeting’ to determine the best course of action. The lady in charge insisted that the trail would get us back to camp, but was ‘less sure’ of how many more miles it was. Finally the woman caved and agreed that we should try to find a different route. This was the first of many such meetings, each more ridiculous than the last.
Over the next several hours we broke every rule of hiking and getting lost that I have ever heard of. We did all of the following at least once:
Left the trail
Jumped a fence
Kept wandering even after we knew we were really lost
Split up (The female leader took off on her own at the behest of the other leaders)
Had I been older and more forthright I would have spoken up. As a youth leader I was given the task of keeping track of the younger girls while the real leaders had ther many meetings, no-one cared to hear my opinions. It was only when the diabetic girl in the group started to complain of feeling faint that the remaining leaders were finally persuaded to stay put and wait to be found. I gathered the rest of the girls and commenced building a fire, thinking that if we did end up having to stay the night we would need a fire, perhaps those looking for us would see the smoke and at the very least it kept us busy (also, who doesn’t like building a fire?).
About a half hour after the fire got built we were found (40 yards or so from a road) and a truck was brought to drive us all back into camp. The other leader who had gone off by herself finally arrived at camp at about 8pm, very tired and moderately dehydrated. (She was taken back to town to see a doctor.)
I suppose there are a few morals to my story. The first is that they really mean it when they say what to do when lost- Stay Put, Don’t leave the trail and Stay together. Had we done that from the get go we would have been found much much earlier. Then again, I wouldn’t have this great story to tell. The second, even though you may not be a real leader, you should still speak up when the real leaders are violating common sense. Lastly, when you know you’re not lost, you know you’re not lost, and letting others believe you know less than you know isn’t humility it is foolishness.