Very recently, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race, took place in Alaska. A remarkable and highly-competitive event, the race runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, nearly 1,000 miles and often through white out blizzard conditions, sub-zero temperature and gale-force winds. A “musher” – aka, the individual racer – competes with a team of 16 dogs against other teams, the elements and time. It’s an exciting feat to follow.
Among those competing in this year’s Iditarod was Eagle Scout Matthew Failor, 32, from Mansfield, Ohio. When I heard about Matthew’s involvement in this iconic race, I wasn’t surprised. And it caused me to reflect on what kind of person it takes to participate in challenging events like the Iditarod (in Matthew’s case – not just once, but four times) and what events like these contribute to the personal development of the participants.
Interestingly, Iditarod has eight character traits mushers are expected to follow. It’s not hard to see how these align with the values and character traits we cultivate in Scouting and how Matthew’s training as a Scout is a natural fit for the rigors and requirements of this race. Iditarod’s eight traits are: innovation, diligence, integrity, team work, attitude, respect, optimism, and determination. Think of any Scout you know and mentor and you’ll see these traits in development each day.
It takes a certain kind of individual to accept any kind of a challenge. Those challenges in particular where individuals are expected to test themselves, to overcome adverse conditions, fear, physical limits, discomfort and self-doubt – these are true tests of character. And through those aims expressed in the Scout Oath and Law, which guides all that we do in Scouting, we develop character, citizenship, leadership and physical and mental fitness.
Matthew is a shining example of how those traits that are cultivated during boyhood in Scouting are carried into adulthood. In this video, he discusses how Scouting continues to empower him to face the grueling challenges of the Iditarod.
And, if you’re wondering how he fared in the race, Matthew officially completed the 2015 Iditarod in 11 days, 22 hours, 42 minutes and 42 seconds in 41st place – most definitely a journey for a man of remarkable character. Matthew – your Scouting family is proud of you.
Yours in Scouting,