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.