What’s the Problem?
Every camping trip is a collage of problems for the creative mind to solve. No matter how well we plan, nature finds a way to transform individuals into inventors.
Let’s take last month’s camping trip to Enchanted Rock for example. It was intended to be a reward trip for our Youth Leaders. We wanted it to be special so we planned to go rock climbing. The name of the place is, after all, Enchanted Rock.
The thing is, none of our staff had ever been rock climbing at Enchanted Rock before. So we got creative and started solving problems. It was a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, a parade of creative endeavors.
“Creativity can solve almost any problem.”George Lois
“Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving.”
Michael J. Gelb
Fortunately and Unfortunately
First, we embarked on a scouting trip to test the climbing routes. Unfortunately, despite an early start, the park was crowded by the time we arrived. Fortunately, we found a parking spot anyway and headed in. Unfortunately, some maps are better than others, and the one at the Ranger Station was definitely one of the others. Fortunately, we were able to find a better map posted along the trail, take a photo of it, and journey on.
Unfortunately, every route we came to was already occupied by other climbers. Fortunately, we had plenty of opportunities to talk to everyone out there and get advice. Unfortunately, the prevailing advice seemed to be: hike in before sunrise and hope for the best.
You have to hope for the best because:
1) You might hike in early and still not get a route.
2) If there is a route available, it might be too hard to climb.
3) Or you might not have the right gear to climb it.
4) And if there’s a drop of rain, all of the routes will be closed.
There are no guarantees in nature. Or in life, for that matter. Which is why the ability to problem solve is so important. In the words of Michael J. Gelb, “Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving.”
New Ideas to the Rescue!
And so, when the Youth Leaders arrived for their expedition, we turned the problem solving over to them. We started by overviewing the risks and contingencies in our rock climbing plan. Then, we opened the floor for creative solutions. Within minutes, we had a new plan: sunrise summit hike!
It was a great idea, and we all woke up in good spirits at 5:00 a.m. to make it happen. I’d like to tell you that it was everything we hoped for, but as always, it was both less and more.
An Epic Escapade
The weather was drizzly. We definitely couldn’t have gone rock climbing. Even the hike to the summit was slick and challenging, forcing our Youth Leaders to work together to progress up the slippery slope.
At the top, we sat on ponchos and ate a cold breakfast of trail mix and beef jerky. In the haze of headlamp light, we shivered together, awaiting a sunrise that never quite broke through the clouds.
But as we waited, we began generating new ideas. And soon, we embarked on an epic spelunking escapade! It was nothing we had originally envisioned for the trip and everything we needed it to be: new, challenging, and ultimately beautiful. I couldn’t be more proud of this group and our creative adventures!
“Every problem is a gift. Without problems we would not grow.” Anthony Robbins