A Buddy, The Eleventh Essential

Scoutmaster Minute for Troop 14, March 27, 2007

You’ve probably heard about the Scout who was lost in the woods in North Carolina recently. He did a pretty good job of taking care of himself, getting water, keeping warm, but he could have done better. What are some of the things you can think of?

[Scouts answered with “stay in camp”, “don’t split up the troop leaving one adult and one Scout in camp”, “take food”.]

Those are good ideas. He did have some Pringles, which helped — those have a lot of calories.

Here is one thing that would have helped [pull a whistle out of my pocket], a whistle, one of the Ten Essentials1. A whistle makes you much easier to find. That would have helped the 200 people who spent four days looking for him.

There is another essential thing, and that is a buddy. We all learn the buddy system for Tenderfoot, because it is so important. He should have had a buddy when he left camp. When you have a buddy, you can make better decisions.

But the buddy system failed at an earlier point. He left camp to go home because his friends weren’t on the trip. He needed a buddy before he left the parking lot. He needed a buddy at the beginning of the trip.

So make sure that you have a buddy. Invite one on every trip. A buddy is the eleventh essential.2


  1. Yes, I know that the BSA calls them the “Outdoor Essentials”. I usually do, too, but that would spoil the punch line.
  2. The previous Scoutmaster Minute I posted was also about buddies, but there have been other topics, including an excellent one on focus by one of our ASMs. On the other hand, we’re working on increasing attendance on outings, so I may continue to touch on buddies, friends, and word-of-mouth.
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