"Are you sure this is a good idea?" I ask the climbing director at Camp Parsons on a summer day in 2002. "Absolutely!" he replies with complete and total confidence.
Between the years of 1994 and 2003, I had the privilege and honor of working at Camp Parsons, a Boy Scout summer camp built on the shores of Hood Canal in Western Washington. The camp first opened in 1919 and has operated every summer since.
In 1995, a thirty-foot outdoor climbing wall was added to the Camp Parsons program, which already consisted of many other activities such as shooting sports, crafts, aquatics and miscellaneous outdoor skills. The climbing wall addition not only brought a new source of fun for the scouts, but it also brought the opportunity to offer up two more merit badges, Climbing and Emergency Preparedness.
Within the requirements of the Emergency Preparedness badge, there is a discussion and demonstration on what to do in the event of a mountaineering accident. And with that requirement, the 2002 merit badge counselor thought it would be a great idea for me to play the victim so his class could simulate a rescue.
As I sat in my chair at the base of the climbing wall becoming roped in by multiple hands, I looked out at fifteen scouts on belay, grinning ear-to-ear, ready to aggressively hoist me upwards. In that moment, I shakily asked the question, "Uh, are we sure about this plan?!"
Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. It is placing confidence in a person or dependence on an object. It is surrendering, yet having the expectation that all will be okay.
Think about the classic Trust Fall where someone or a group of people stands behind you as you deliberately fall backwards into their arms. You trust the group will catch you and the group trusts you will be catchable. Without trust, you will not stay rigid as you fall. And if you do not stay rigid like a board, you are much harder to catch. All must trust each other.
Trust means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur. If we can surround ourselves with people we trust, we are generating a safe environment, built on the hearts of those we know have our backs. We feel trust. And with trust, we feel companionship, friendship, love, agreement, relaxation, and comfort.
Trust comes with both emotional and logical components. On the emotional side, it is when we expose our vulnerabilities to people, believing wholeheartedly they will not take advantage of our openness. On the logical side, it is when we can forecast results based on expected performance—like when we study, we trust we will do well on our test; when we practice, we trust we will play well in our game; and when we invest into our 401(k), we trust we will be financially protected come retirement.
The word trustworthy is the first point of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Scout Law, which was defined and originally published in the 1911 BSA Boy Scout Handbook. The 1911 US version was inspired by the 1908 United Kingdom handbook titled, Scouting for Boys, written by Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement.
A Scout's honor is to be trusted. If a scout says "On my honor it is so," that means that it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, "I trust you on your honor to do this," the scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honor by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honor to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge, and never be allowed to wear it again.
These are strong words. And they emphasize the importance of trust and how much faith is put into someone when they are trusted.
We need trust in our lives. We need trust in this world. Trust is everything. And it betters humanity. As the saying goes, trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.
So, with all this said, I wish to thank you each for putting your trust in me and our BILLY Footwear company. We hold your trust in high regard and I do not say those words lightly. Your trust is our lifeline. It is as if we were dangling thirty feet in the air and our lives depended on it.
(Pictured above is me tied in with a series of ropes, which are then all connected to a single rope held by eager scouts ready to send me skyward. Trust.)