Sharing the Burden

"You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen (under its load) on the road, and ignore them. Rather, you shall pick up the load with him."

-- Deuteronomy 22:4


Recently, I spoke with a chaplain who works at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, the largest youth scout camp in the world. The camp is named after Waite Phillips, who together with his wife Genevieve, donated 127,000 acres of land to the scouts. 

This camp features one- to three-week backcountry treks where participants carry on their backs 30- to 50-pound packs with all their supplies, including tents, food, water, and clothes. The scouts hike about 10 miles per day. They climb mountains and rappel down rock formations. 

The chaplain recounted that on a recent trek, one scout contracted altitude sickness and was up much of the night vomiting. In the morning, when the ailing scout picked up his pack to start hiking, it was empty. His fellow scouts had divided the contents of his pack among themselves to carry them for him. 

The chaplain also recalled how one scout couldn’t make it all the way back to camp on the last day. He became exhausted shortly before reaching the camp. His fellow scouts carried him the rest of the way. The chaplain was so moved by the kindness of these teens, he fought back tears as he told me these stories. This verse calls on us to lighten each other’s burdens and make sacrifices for one another. 

Indeed! As Waite Phillips of blessed memory said, “The only things we keep permanently are those we give away.”

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