Thursday, September 15, 2011

Building Bridges

I try not to get into the personal on this blog, as "I did this, and I did that" statements would detract from my purpose - I'd end up just grousing instead of helping. That, and I tend to get a little snarky. That said...

Glen Canyon Dam bridge, from wikipedia/commons. Public Domain
My son turned eleven early this year, and joined the Scout troop and the 11YO "Coyote" patrol . He had earned the Arrow of Light a few months before his birthday, and got the traditional, overused face-paint ceremony at that time. Unfortunately, by earning his AoL well in advance of his birthday, he threw the Pack leaders a curve ball. There’s no tradition of holding crossover ceremonies in his pack/troop, so instead of publicly marking his graduation from Cubs and transition to Scouts, he simply had a birthday and didn't show up at the next den meeting.

This is wrong on so many levels. This is why I went to Wood Badge, and why I am maintaining this blog. This is volun-told inaction, the I-don’t-need-no-training mind-set. If we don’t make Scouting a Big Deal for them when they're young (both the boys and their families) we’ll fall into the trap of running a Scout troop merely because Salt Lake says we’re supposed to have a Scout Troop (kind of like building bypasses because they've got to be built*), but we won’t have the boys’ buy-in and we will lose them to other, better (in their minds) things. They may get badges for a while, but it will be because “boys are supposed to earn badges,” or “Brother Robinson is making me do this.” We’ll have the form of Scoutliness, but not the power inherent in it.

It starts in Cub Scouts. Cubmasters and Committee Chairs need to be committed to making it a memorable experience that looks forward to bigger and better things. There’s no shortage of resources on the web for holding imaginative, exciting and FUN Den and Pack Meetings. If recognition consists of barely more than ‘here’s your bag-o-badges, here’s a quick game, here’s a cookie, aaaaaaand we’re done, why bother? The Cub Scout handbooks promise adventure and excitement (both of which the Jedi craves not, but I digress). Are we delivering on the promise?

I learned in ROTC that you never bring a problem to the commander without having a solution (if not two or thee) in mind. Fortunately, I’m in a position to fix some things without too much bloodletting. There is a new Cubmaster, who just happens to have been the Webelos Leader. By taking part in Cub Committee Meetings I'll be in a position to make appropriate suggestions. At that point, it shouldn’t take too much to get him to sign on to making a Big Deal out of these seemingly insignificant things.

* Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (clip)

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