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AFTER HOURS: LAURA WILSON: Being prepared is more than a Scouting slogan

June 4, 2007

AFTER HOURS LAURA WILSON Being prepared is more than a Scouting slogan Longtime Boy Scouts volunteer Laura Wilson learned firsthand the importance of the scouts' motto-"Be prepared."

A vice president of com munications at the Indiana Bankers Association, Wilson accompanied her two sons on a camping trip last year to New Salem, Ill., where the scouts went on a nearly 20-mile hike on the Lincoln Pilgrimage trail from New Salem to Springfield.

Later that night, she learned the hard way that it wasn't a good idea to be out in the pouring rain in the middle of the night look ing for a restroom with no rain gear and no flashlight.

"I found myself thinking, 'What would Lincoln do?'" Wilson said. "I very carefully found my way back to our troop. I came back realizing that as long as you have a good pair of waterproof hiking boots and a rain poncho, you can withstand pretty much anything."

Wilson, 47, started volunteering with Troop 133 about six years ago when her older son was a second grader. She serves as trip coordinator and spends about four hours a week handling logistics and researching state parks.

Ironically, this daughter of an Eagle Scout was never really interested in scouting. And she has never been a fan of bugs, despite growing up in a household filled with insect displays-her father's scouting specialty.

"I have been known to zip up a sleeping bag all around me even in August and sweat rather than risk having a bug land on me," she admitted. "It's been a learning experience for me. I'm not by nature a camper, so I had to get used to the great outdoors."

To illustrate this, Wilson spoke about her first overnight camping experience with her son's troop. Her husband was out of town, so she was the one who camped in a tent with her now-14-year-old son.

"This was a huge camp out," she said. "I thought the prospect of being with 500 men and boys would make me feel outnumbered, but it turned out there were other mothers there and the entire evening was programmed with lots of activities so I didn't have to stand around talking about cars and sports-things I'm not familiar with."

And the added bonus: no line for the ladies room.

Wilson said there are many rewards associated with scouting.

"One of the best benefits for the boys themselves is not only earning merit badges and learning skills but they have the experience that used to exist in oneroom schoolhouses," she said, since older children mentor the younger ones.

But the benefits aren't limited just to youngsters, Wilson said.

"For both children and parents involved with Boy Scouts, there's an opportunity to gain confidence in setting and achieving goals-and in my case learning that it's not so bad to have a spider in a tent."
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