On the eve of our son becoming an Eagle Scout, it seemed appropriate to revisit these tips.
So your son has decided he wants to be a Boy Scout, and you are thrilled because you know he will gain life-long skills. Plus, plenty of dads will sign up for the adult roles, right? Wrong (or at least, not enough) in my experience.
My story actually started back in Cub Scouts when our son was a Tiger, and not a single dad was willing or able to be den leader. My own husband was working three jobs at the time, so I stepped into the role … which started a 5 year career of over-volunteering in Cub Scouts.
When our guy crossed over to Boy Scouts, I tried to lie low and stay out of leadership. It didn’t take long for someone to track me down for a task, so let me share what I’ve learned over the years to keep things fun.
1. Make sure your son actually wants to be in Boy Scouts. I know, this seems like a no-brainer, but I see it all the time: parents want their son in Scouts, and the kid has no interest being there. Or maybe he loved the early years but doesn’t want to put in the work to be Eagle … and that’s okay. If you are having to nag your child to attend Scouting events or finish merit badge requirements, it is going to be miserable for both of you. Bow out gracefully.
2. Teach them to care for their own equipment. Seriously, don’t clean their camping/cooking/hiking gear for them. Instruct them on how to do it, but LET THEM DO IT. Trust me, one time of leaving food crumbs in the bottom of their tent will teach them to do better the next time. Plus, if you are doing their chores for them, they aren’t real Boy Scouts.
3 .Learn to say no (within reason.) While the Boy Scouts of America is Scout led, they cannot function without adult volunteers. You will be asked to give some of your time, and you should say yes where you can. Don’t do like I did and overburden yourself. As with so many organizations, most Troops have a few adults covering all positions, and that isn’t setting a good example for the youth. Offer to be the Point of Contact for one outing or a driver for three trips. If you want to take on a leadership role, by all means do so. The point here is you need to help with at least a minor role, but don’t take on so much you become bitter about Scouting.
4. Go to an Eagle Court of Honor. I know, that may not sound like fun, but once you’ve been to one, you’ll see what I mean. I go to every ceremony I can, and I’ve even been asked to participate in a few. Why do I recommend this? Well, especially for mommas, seeing how hard these other youth have worked and hearing the kind words people speak about them will warm your heart. Even if your own Scout doesn’t want to go all the way to Eagle, experiencing a Court of Honor will warm your heart.
5. Ask your son what he enjoys most about Scouting, and then ask him to teach you. You’ll be amazed at how his joy is infectious, and watching him become the instructor will show you how much he is growing. When my son shows me a new skill, it helps to remind me why I wanted him to join Boy Scouts in the first place. An even better experience is watching him share his knowledge with younger Scouts. No matter what the rank, your son will have learned skills to carry with him throughout life.
All in all, my biggest tip is to let your son take the lead with how large or small a part Scouting will play in his life. As is usually the case, if your child is enjoying the learning process, mommas will be able to have fun, too.
Mine actually fell in my lap. True Story. I got a call from a friend one morning that his job needed some last minute help, so I chipped in … to park cars.
Yep, I see you saying, “Parking cars?! How is that a dream job?” Bear with me a moment.
This was a family-owned canoe livery, where we rented river equipment to hundreds of people on the weekends, late May to mid September. That first summer, I would park cars from 9AM-3PM, then I would spend several hours learning the ins and outs of the business. By the next summer, I had been moved into the “office.”
I definitely use the term “office” loosely. It was an old, historic building, no air conditioning. We often worked 12 hour days jam-packed days, where someone would grab a tomato from the garden, slap together a sandwich for you, and you would grab bites in between customers. It was hot, sweaty work, dealing with every personality type under the sun … and I wouldn’t trade a minute of the 15 seasons I worked there.
You see, customers became friends. They came back year after year and wanted to catch up with you. I’ve heard that years later there are still people who ask for me by name. Most importantly, the folks who owned the business took me and the other employees as FAMILY. Saturdays were home-cooked dinners, and the fridge was always stocked for us. Many of us were given places to stay and sleep if we wanted. In short, it became my home-away-from-home. I was valued for my work, and I was loved for who I was.
My last summer there was over a decade ago, and it took a long time to find another job that made my heart that happy. I never let the exhaustion, the difficult customers, or whole weekends lost to bad weather drag me down. I was excited to go to work every single day and so deeply saddened when we had to close at the end of a season.
Now, I’m not saying your dream job is to work at a canoe livery. What I am saying is this: find a place that ignites your passion. Where the owners become your family. One where you actually miss it when you are on vacation. And above all, find a job where people appreciate your personality and talents and pour into you, leaving you a better person that when you first walked through those doors … or in my case, the field parking lot.
For more on my crazy, fun-filled passion journey, follow me here.
I doubt there is a single family in the United States who is experiencing the summer they expected (and if you are the exception, I would love to hear from you.)
Like so many others, we’ve lost get-togethers with friends, cooking out, lazy days on the water, summer camps, and day trips to random places like the world’s largest hippo hang nail.
Unlike many of our friends, we didn’t lose the pool altogether.
Thankfully, the board split the membership into two groups, allowing us to make reservations to attend every other day. The pools are split into swimming zones, and families register for a certain time to swim. Not ideal, but certainly better than nothing, right?
At least that was what I told my kids. Inside, I was chaffing at having to plan out our pool times (after all, even in this weird 2020 summer, who wants to have someone else decide their schedule??)And when we had a stretch that all of our pool times where getting rained out, it really became hard to maintain the good attitude.
Then I reevaluated. Yes, we missed a few days. But on the days we were there, very often there were unclaimed swimming zones, meaning we could stay longer, which has been especially important to our youngest, who hasn’t gone anywhere other than the pool in I-don’t-know-how-long. But the most important difference is the one that will have the longest lasting impact.
My husband (and the awesome daddy to our amazing kids) has been able to go to the pool with us.
That may not sound like much to some families, but it is huge to ours. You see, I grew up in a family with a wonderful father who worked long hours so we could afford to go places like the pool, but that meant he was rarely physically there. I guess it should come as no surprise that I married a man who also wants to provide for his family. It has been slightly different in that at least my husband could periodically show up at the pool for 10 minutes or so to watch the children’s latest tricks or to treat them to ice cream. I’ve always been grateful for that. With the Rona came a new appreciation.
Due to working from home and being able to mostly arrange his hours, my hubby has been going to the pool with us almost every time. Not only that, he is IN the pool, playing with the kids, participating in any silly game they concoct. I can hear their laughter before I ever even make it to the pool deck. And it is the most amazing gift.
We’ve had some hard years. My husband wasn’t always the most emotionally present. The kids often referred to him as “grumpy.” There were times we clearly knew to avoid his negative attitude. But if there is a silver lining of coronavirus, it is that he is more present in our lives than ever, and he is making a tremendous effort to keep it all positive. Watching him in the pool with our kids has helped me to fall in love with him all over again.
So, yeah, this is the summer that wasn’t … but it is also the summer full of endless possibilities.
Want to keep up with our other fun shenanigans? You can read our plans here.