Courage has always been a quality by which men measure themselves and others. To a Scout, bravery means not only the courage to face physical danger, but the determination to stand up for the right. – The Eagle Challenge
In April my family and I attend the Spring Fair at the county fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are a place I have been to many times over the years. I’ve seen concerts by groups like the Beach Boys. I’ve seen demolition derbies. I’ve seen rodeos. I’ve purchased honey straight from the farm. I’ve ridden the rides. And, I’ve eaten the elephant ears.
The fairgrounds host two big fairs each year, the Spring Fair and the Fall Fair. I personally prefer the fair in the spring since there are fewer people and just about as much to see and do.
This year we packed the family into the car and made the 45 minute drive as usual. It was unseasonably hot for April and so come the late afternoon, we headed for the cool refuge of the exhibitors hall. We wandered the aisles filled with hundred of exhibitors and maybe a thousand people for about half an hour when we heard an incredible explosion from the North. As I heard the sound and looked to the North side of the building I saw the massive windows flex inward but not break. The sound was so powerful I could feel it hit me on the inside.
The hundreds of people inside the building were immediately hushed and we could hear the various hums and beeps and whirs of the wares for sale. Everyone stopped walking and looked at each other or to that North wall. My head spun and my mind raced as I quickly assessed the safety of my family and everyone else in the building. The sound subsided and we clearly were not in imminent danger, but something was wrong outside.
Having been to the fairgrounds many times I knew that the “Big Top” was just outside the doors. It was a 200 foot steel tower where people strap into seats and are shot up to the top by air pressure and then dropped down in a series of falls. My minds most logical conclusion was that the ride had toppled over.
Maybe a second had gone by and as I chose my next action I looked at my family. They were hushed and curious and safe, I decided. I quickly determined that with my first aid training and leadership skills, I needed to head toward the emergency.
I asked my wife if she had her cell phone, she did. I told them I was going to head for the sound and that I loved them. And to the North I trotted.
As I moved toward the emergency I was shocked by how many people were standing around, quiet. They were not running away, falling for cover, or running to help. They were simply standing in curiosity. As I passed some looked at me and other asked me what had happened as I went by. As I came closer to the door I noticed a few others trotting toward the doors with me, having made the same decision as I. As I turned the corner and could see through the glass doors to the outside I could see people walking by without care. There was no screaming or calls for help. As I cleared the door and looked around with several others, we discovered there was clearly nothing to worry about.
That is when I heard a new sound. The announcer in the stadium was starting to call the action at the demolition derby that had just started. Apparently the explosive sound was from some sort of firework lit off to celebrate the festivities. There was no emergency.
Some say running toward an emergency takes courage and bravery and is what heroes are made of. Others say that running away is better.
As scouts we are trained in the skills of first aid, leadership, decision-making, and teamwork. Put yourself inside that exhibitors hall for a moment, hearing that explosion, seeing that you and your family are not in immediate danger. What will you do?