It was in January of 1971 that I was honored to serve as the Captain of the Senior Klondike Team of Boy Scout Troop 170. Please note that this photo captured a portion of the tall, towering mountains of the famous Boy Scout Camp Allamuchy. These mountains lie in the background, behind the winter trees.
Facing A Mountain Of Fear With Faith and Courage
By Richard Mabey Jr.
There are times when fear almost seems to overcome us. It creeps its ugly head up from the fibers of our hearts, it steals our enthusiasm and makes us question our own inborn talents and abilities. Such a time came to me in the Autumn of 1970. At the age of 17, an honor that I had dreamed of attaining for many years, blessed my life. However, my success did not come without my squarely facing a deep-seated fear. This horrible fear almost robbed me of taking on a hard-won challenge with fury and courage.
It was in late September of 1970 that my beloved father gave me the good news that the Troop Committee of Boy Scout Troop 170 unanimously appointed me to be the Captain of the Senior Klondike Derby Team. At the time, my dad was serving as Scoutmaster of Troop 170. I know, in my heart, that Dad had a deep belief in my gifts and talents to lead the senior scouts to winning a trophy at the upcoming Klondike Derby, which would be held in January.
I was deeply humbled. I was honored. I treasured the high regard that my dad and the entire Troop Committee held for me. But, I held a deep-seated, unspoken fear within the chambers of my heart. The big Klondike Derby was held at the famous Boy Scout Camp, Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation.
One portion of the Klondike Derby took the team along a trail that climbed the high mountains that ran along the camp’s lake. This mountain trail was not very wide, it was located high upon the mountain ridge and there were no guard rails. To fall from this height would be devastating.
I knew first hand how devastating it could be. For the year before, as a member of the Senior Klondike Derby Team, I fell from atop this mountain ridge. I still remember it well. I had stepped upon an unstable rock along the path’s edge. The rock gave way, my footing slipped and I fell and tumbled the length and breadth of this towering mountain. I fell upon rocks and stumps during this traumatic fall.
When I landed upon the surface of the camp’s solid frozen lake, my clothes were ripped and torn. I was bleeding in more than a half-dozen places. The many cuts and bruises and the sting of the cold snow sent my head swirling in terrible pain. I remember seeing my loyal, fellow scouts running down the mountain to help me. I remember I tried my best to arise, got incredibly dizzy and fainted upon the cold ice.
The next thing that I remember, when I came to, was being in the back of an ambulance. My dad was by my side. Even though I was groggy and absorbed with pain, I remember my dad telling me that I was going to be alright. Long story short, my dad was right. Although I still do have some small scars from those cuts and bruises.
Fast forwarding to January of 1971. The Junior Klondike Teams ran on the second Saturday of January and the Senior Klondike Team ran on the next day. I remember that during the late afternoon of the Saturday before the big Senior Klondike Derby, fear overtook me. It was a horrible fear. I was deadly afraid to climb that mountain trail. And, I was afraid to admit my fear to my dad. The last thing in the world that I wanted was to let my dad down, to let the Troop Committee down, and to let my fellow senior scouts down. But the fear of returning to that high mountain trail, caused my heart to tremble.
Early that Saturday night, I sat at my bedroom desk, reviewing my Boy Scout Handbook. I went over some of the basics of scout knowledge for the big event, to begin in the morning. Suddenly, without warning, this overwhelming dark fear came over me. As I held my scout handbook, I watched my hands shake. A blanket of fear now covered my heart.
There at my desk, I knew there was only one source to help me overcome this devastating fear. For all I could see, in my mind’s eye, was that narrow, high mountain trail. I reached for the Holy Bible that sat upon my desk. I began to slowly read the Twenty-third Psalm. I must have read those verses over a hundred times that evening.
I don’t pretend to fully understand this. But in the midst of one of those quiet readings of this beloved psalm, an inner peace filled my heart. The ugly, dark fear that had filled my heart fled from my inner being. A calm, serene, deep peace now resided in my heart. I knew in that sacred moment that I could face that tall, towering mountain with steadfast courage.
I am proud to say that I led one of the all-time greatest Senior Klondike Teams, in Boy Scout history. There was something special about the bond of brotherhood that tied us all together on that special Sunday, in January of 1971. There were well over 50 Senior Klondike Teams that competed in that particular Klondike Derby. For this was during the very hey-day of the baby boom era. All of our hard work had paid off, as Boy Scout Troop 170’s Senior Klondike Team won the Third Place Trophy that year.
As you read this essay, you may find yourself dealing with fear. You might be facing financial stress, maybe your supervisor is not treating you well at work, perhaps you are facing a serious illness. Please know that fear must be conquered. Whatever your religious faith or spiritual path may be, I earnestly ask you to please consider taking time to read and reread the scriptures from the holy writings of your faith, religion or spiritual path. In truth, they are the fire extinguisher to dowse the flames of fear residing in one’s heart.