Let’s Hear It for Columbusing



NPR’s Code Switch blog ran an interesting article recently on a phenomenon called columbusing, which it defines as “discovering something that’s existed forever.” Often, these discoveries happen across cultural or ethnic lines, and some meaning gets lost along the way. For example, the popular Color Run 5K races draw their inspiration from the Hindu festival of Holi.

Not surprisingly, the people whose traditions are borrowed (stolen?) in columbusing tend to get offended. But columbusing in a Scouting context is actually a good thing.

What do I mean? Our Scouts are always discovering things that have existed forever: the Milky Way, that hiking trail that leads to a breathtaking mountain vista, Dutch oven cobbler, the joy of community service, the challenge of being a leader.

You and I have seen those things a thousand times before. It’s easy for us to get a little jaded, easy for us to point out to our little Columbuses that someone has already seen and done these things. Rather than say, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt,” we need to step back and let them make their own discoveries.

And when we do, we may again experience the joy of discovering something that’s existed forever.



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