Archive for the ‘Be Prepared’ Tag

The Role of Parents in Scouting   Leave a comment

A tough campout for parents is to accompany their son on their first Boy Scout camping experience.

They find that the rules have changed.  No longer are they in charge.  No longer are they primarily responsible for their son.  No longer do they set up the family tent for Mom, Dad, their son and other children.

Instead, a boy is in charge.  The parents are “encouraged” to take a break, and let the boys do it.  And that is often very, very hard — for the parents.

Scouting begins for many as a Tiger Cub.  Your son is in first grade and a flyer comes home from school.  Your son can join Scouts!  You’ll go to a recruitment night, and there you learn that you’ll join Cub Scouts with your son … he must have an adult partner in Tiger Cubs.  You’ll go to his Den meetings every week or two; you’ll go on outings with the other Tigers and their adult partners.  It’s a blast.

Velda signed Christopher up for Tigers while I was on a business trip.  I had left Scouting when I went to college in 1974 … I had never even heard of Tiger Cubs in 1989!

What I soon discovered is that Scouting had expanded the program to include first graders.  At the time, I was traveling extensively for my job, so Velda was Christopher’s adult partner and attended most of the meetings and monthly field trips.  She loved it almost as much as Christopher did:  he had a wonderful time!  I attended a couple of meetings, and I remember feeling a little lost.  Pack meetings helped get me in the swing of things, though, and by the next year, we were ready to volunteer our time to build the Pack up.

Cub Scout campouts are about families. This campout was in the Sequoia National Park at Camp Wolverton. I’ll never forget the Cub Scout’s big sister that thanked me: she had never been to a real campfire before.

Velda became a Den Leader and I became the Pack Treasurer.  We were all in, having fun with the kids, planning events and making sure the boys — including our sons — had a fabulous time at every meeting.  For the youngest boys, that is especially important.  Cub Scouting is a family event.  Velda was the Wolf & Bear Den Leader for both of our boys; I was the Webelos Den Leader, Committee Chair and then Cubmaster.  The Pack grew from 9 boys to 60+ boys.  We did many, many campfires and campouts.  Our garage had a permanent table and benches for the twice-a-week Den meetings.  As I said, we were all in.

As the boys grow from Wolf to Bear to Webelos (2nd to 3rd to 4th grade), the parents’ role does subtly change.  At the beginning, parents are with their son at every meeting, every event.  As the boys enter third grade and begin work on their Bear badge, parental attendance often becomes more optional.  Note that their participation is not an option, but there are times they can physically miss a meeting.  The Pack provides trained, adult leadership — and backups — to make sure that the boys are motivated, educated, entertained and well supervised.  The boys will spend time with their peers and learn to follow Akela … their leader.

At the same time, parents will contribute in the way they can best contribute.  Some are Den Leaders or assistants … and some help to set up the chairs before a meeting.  Helping set up meetings or bring snacks are also important tasks that help make the Pack run smoothly.

The boys in Cub Scouts learn a dizzying array of skills.  They will learn how to be responsible.  They’ll learn first aid.  They’ll learn about our country.  They’ll even learn how to communicate with their parents.  And, they’ll get to do Scouting stuff, too:  sing songs, camp out and build campfires.  The boys will have a GREAT time, and they’ll do it with their family.  My daughter still says she was a Cub Scout — she went to every Den Meeting, she went on every outing.  Note that she is in the middle of the Cub Scouts in the campout picture, above.  Cub Scouting is about family.

Every Cub Scout learns the motto:  Do Your Best.  And they have fun as they do their best, learning how to use a pocket knife, how to tell a tall tale, how recycling works and how to bake cookies.

As the boys transition to Boy Scouts, however, they learn a new motto.  As a Boy Scout, they must “Be Prepared.”  It’s no longer acceptable to simply do their best — now they must be ready for all challenges that come their way.

And that takes us back to their first campout.  It’s five years after your little boy became a Tiger Cub, and their world has changed.

It’s inevitable, really.  Families go on Cub Scout campouts, and Moms & Dads are in charge.  They set up the tents.  They make sure everything gets done.  When the boy goes to Boy Scouts, however, that all changes.  Who runs a Boy Scout troop?  The boys.

When that fifth grade boy, 10 or 11 years old, goes on that first campout with a well-run troop, he will answer to his Patrol Leader, often a 13-year old boy, who has taken on the responsibility to teach the new Scouts in Patrol.  That 13-year old Patrol Leader, in turn, reports to a Senior Patrol Leader who is the elected boy leader of the Troop.  The SPL is in charge of the outing.  He will consult with the adult leaders of the troop when he needs to … and the adult leaders will advise him as they need to.

Boy Scouts learn a lot from adults, of course … but I have always felt they enjoy learning skills from older boys much more. That is good on two levels: both the students and the teacher are enriched by the experience.

The parents aren’t in charge.  They’re not in their son’s Patrol.  They are not in charge of the Patrol Leader or the training that their son will receive.  The parents are welcome at the campout, especially at a first campout.  However, their role is not to set up their son’s tent.  They should not camp overnight with the Patrol — they will camp in the adult section of the campsite.

One of the goals of Boy Scouting is for the boys to learn leadership skills.  They do that by leading younger boys and teaching them Scout skills.  As boys advance in rank, they will learn how to set up their own tent.  They’ll learn what makes a good site for that tent.  And they’ll learn how to cook their own meals.  And then they will teach those skills to younger boys as they join the troop.

Parents should be a part of the adult leadership of the troop.  Typically that goes in one of two directions:  the Scoutmaster and his assistants, who help the boys plan and implement the events the troop participates in, or the troop committee that does everything from budgeting to transportation planning.

As our boys joined their troop, I went along with them and became an Assistant Scoutmaster.  Velda decided that she would not formally volunteer as an adult in the troop, but she did help with transportation and other volunteer tasks as needed.

However, even as I continued to be “very” involved, I still made sure that I gave my boys plenty of room to grow on their own.  As one example, the troop did an extended Alaska trip with floating, fishing and camping.  I did not go on this outing, but both of our sons did.  They had a great time, and I’m certain they experienced things differently with me not there.

And that is a wonderful thing.  Boys need to learn to be self-reliant as they grow from 2nd graders to 9th graders.  How are they going to do that if their parents are at every outing, every event?  By not going to Alaska, I helped the boys grow up.

And that, ultimately, is the role of parents.  The Scouting program can help, as I know it did for me in Maitland, Missouri’s Pack 58 and Troop 58, and as I know it did for my sons in Pack 575 and Troop 2 in Saugus, California.

The Haleakala Adventure   5 comments

We wanted our first trip to Maui to be special, so we did our research.

I told Velda one option was to watch the sun rise above the Haleakala volcano, knowing that Velda would never approve that idea.  I’m the early riser.  She’s the late riser.  So on vacation, would she want to get up early enough to see the sun rise?

This is one of a series of guidebooks that I highly recommend to anyone planning a trip to Hawaii. Andrew Doughty has a book about each of the islands, and he’s an entertaining read as well as an informative one. You need these books. About $15 on Amazon.

Absolutely.

If you’re going to Maui, I think this is one of the 5 things you MUST do.  Here are the 5:

  1. Go find the World’s Best Banana Bread
  2. Take the Road to Hanna
  3. Eat at Lahaina Grill
  4. Go to Warren & Annabelle’s Magic Show
  5. See the sun rise over the Hale’akala Volcano

Now, of course, there are many, many other things you should do.  Cook fresh fish on the grill, drink your favorite beverage on the beach, see every gorgeous sunset (which is every one) … many things to do.  But this is the story of Haleakala.

Velda was blanket-wrapped with multiple layers, including her UCLA hoodie. She regretted not having gloves, and wearing Capris instead of long pants.

To enjoy the trip, it’s all about the prep.  Know this:  it will be cold at the summit.  Bring layers of clothing.  Long pants, gloves, hat, heavy socks, shoes.  Yes, you’re going to a tropical paradise, but the summit of Haleakala is 10,023′ above that paradise.  You’ll be in the dark, faced into a stiff wind, and it will be bone cold.  Be prepared, or you won’t enjoy this wonder.

Get the car ready the day before, with a full tank of gas.  Have breakfast preset, or eat in the car.  We got up at 2:30 am in order to get to the summit before sunrise, and we did not get there any too early.  We had time to get there, figure out what we should be doing, take a bathroom break, and then claim our spot on the observation rail.

When you arrive, the parking lot is pitch black.  You really just have to know where you’re going.  You can just go to the east … which is the larger, lower observation position.  There’s also a gate that’s opened a few minutes before sunrise, allowing you to go to the upper observation area near the Haleakala Observatory.  It’s higher, but the view of the sunrise is pretty comparable.  (After sunrise, make sure you go there to see the silverswords.)

I brought a monopod to steady my DSLR.  I held it steady against the metal handrail (I was there in time to get in the front row).  Some of the photographers did bring tripods, but I was fine on the monopod; the slowest exposure below is the first one, which was 1/30 of a second.  The pictures below are not color enhanced.

You watch the sun rise above the edge of the Haleakala crater.  You stand above the clouds, and watch the sunrise.    The views are simply astonishing.

The first view across the crater, above the clouds.

# 2. All shots taken with a Nikon D7000.

# 3. Close up view of the brilliant colors around the sun. I used a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Telephoto Lens.

# 4. It just keeps getting better.

# 5.

# 6. With the sun fully risen, the clouds below covering the crater are fully revealed.  Wide shots taken with a Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX.

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