Climbing the Mountain
Afar in our dry Southwestern country is an Indian village, and in the offing is a high mountain towering up out of the desert. It was considered a great feat to climb this mountain, so that all the boys of the village were eager to attempt it. One day the Chief said, "Now, boys, you may all go to-day and try to climb the mountain. Start right after breakfast and go each of you as far as you can. Then when you are tired, come back, but let each one bring me a twig from the place where he turned."
by Ernest Thompson Seton
(from The Birch Bark Roll)
Away they went, full of hope, each feeling that he surely could reach the top.
But soon a fat, pudgy boy came slowly back and in his hand he held out to the Chief a leaf of cactus. The Chief smiled and said, "My boy, you did not reach the foot of the mountain; you did not even get across the desert." Later a second boy returned. He carried a twig of sagebrush. "Well," said the Chief, "you reached the mountain's foot, but you did not climb upwards."
The next had a cottonwood spray. "Good," said the Chief, "you got up as far as the springs."
Another came later with some buckthorn. The Chief smiled when he saw it, and spoke: "You were climbing; you were up to the first slide rock."
Later in the afternoon one arrived with a cedar spray, and the old man said, "Well done. You went half-way up."
An hour afterwards, one came with a sprig of pine. To him the Chief said, "Good; you went to the third belt, you made three-quarters of the climb."
The sun was low when the last returned. He was a tall, splendid boy of noble character. His hand was empty as he approached the Chief, but his countenance was radiant, and he said, "My father, there were no trees where I got to--I saw no twigs, but I saw the Shining Sea."
Now the old man's face glowed, too, as he said aloud and almost sang. "I knew it! When I looked at your face, I knew it. You have been to the top. You need no twigs for token. It is written in your eyes, and rings in your voice. My boy, you have felt the uplift, you have seen the glory of the mountain."
Oh, ye Woodcrafters, keep this in mind, then--the badges we offer for attainment are not "prizes"--they are merely tokens of what you have done, of where you have been. They are mere twigs from the trail to show how far you got in climbing up the mountain.
Our program is based on story mentioned above.
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