I spent a couple days in the woods this past weekend with two of my kids as they camped out with the BSA (previously known as the Boy Scouts of America). We’ve been involved in Scouts (between Cub Scouts and BSA) for the past four years, with my middle child starting in first grade as a Tiger. And when we initially signed up, I groaned a little at the idea that we had joined an after school program which expected me to hang out while the kid did their thing.
Fast forward a few years and now I have all three kids involved in Scouts, with one officially having moved on to the BSA, and I’ve spent the majority of these years trying to convince everyone involved that I’m still much better suited to sitting on the sidelines than I am in any sort of official capacity within the organization.
But here’s the problem: I think that the scouting programs are amazing. My daughter was in Girl Scouts for a year and the most exciting thing they did for the entire year was to sell cookies. In case you’re a very different person from me, I feel that I should highlight how selling cookies is not exciting. However, while in BSA, she spends one weekend every month camping in cool locations, they go on crazy hikes, they have these merit badges designed to teach them about all sorts of things from robotics to chess, and they meet almost weekly. And, I really have to do almost nothing.
Sure, they expect the parents to go to a monthly meeting and to join in on some of the activities so they have enough adults around to make sure the kids are safe, but at the BSA level, the kids really do it all. This past weekend I sat around and watched as the kids made me dinner and then cleaned up afterward. I was told to just hang out while they cleaned up camp and made sure every single piece of trash was removed from the site, before we all went home. Actually, if there is one thing I could complain about regarding my involvement in the BSA this past weekend is that I was a little bored.
With the Cub Scouts, things are a bit different. In fact, my awesome wife stepped in to be a Den Leader for our youngest’s den because they didn’t have anyone else to be a leader when she saw the fear in my eyes as they started suggesting I take over the spot. Unfortunately, she wasn’t around when they started talking about the Cubmaster role this past weekend…
No, I’m not the Cubmaster, and I have a very difficult time seeing myself as such, but the more I think about it, the more I realize I probably owe it to this group to become a bit more directly involved. While I try to be as helpful as possible, I’ve avoided becoming official because I simply don’t feel like I have the personal bandwidth to take on anything like that, not to mention my fears of having a bunch of kids go out of control on me. Which means, within a year, I might be forced to actually don one of those brown shirts and start earning some badges of my own.
And when that happens, I have a feeling there’s no turning back.