As we start a new year many of us are making resolutions of things to do (or not do) in the coming year. In looking forward to the coming year I reflected some on the past (at my age, people are allowed to do that) and thought about what Scouting had meant to me both as a Scout and as a leader and parent.
Growing up in a mill town I was pretty much average in about everything- a little better than average in school, a little worse than average in sports. We didn’t have the organized sports that permeate youth athletics today, but we always found a group of kids to play football or baseball when we wanted to play a game. Scouting offered me something I didn’t find anywhere else. It let me be a part of a group of boys who were interested in learning new things, going camping and focusing on a goal of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. I learned about leadership and got the opportunity to be a leader and teach other Scouts in the troop and as a camp counselor. A trip to the National Jamboree introduced me to people from all over the world and showed me the world beyond the steel mills. And Philmont was the “mountain top experience” everyone hopes for. I learned independence and self confidence. Scouting gave me the opportunity to grow.
God blessed me with four wonderful sons. A parent never knows if the things that interested him will be of any interest to his children. Scouting had meant so much to me that we started to enjoy “scouting” activities together. We were not involved in Cub Scouts but went through the whole YMCA Indian Guide program. Starting at five we went camping and canoeing and advancing in Indian Guides. All four earned their Golden Thunderbird- the highest rank in Guides.
The transition to Scouting was natural although not without some strain. The Guide’s motto is “Pals Forever” and boys didn’t go camping unless dad came along. It wasn’t the same in Scouts. But we learned to camp and cook and do wilderness survival together. I got to make at least one trek to Philmont with each of my sons. I got to relive some of the excitement I had years before. And all four have earned their Eagle rank.
Our kids want to be part of a gang. They need the growth, recognition, and camaraderie. They need to feel independence and they need to face challenges. They need to gain self-confidence and to have a chance to be a leader. Scouting offers all of this. Let’s focus on their gang colors being Khaki instead of Red or Blue.