Archive for the ‘Cub Scouts’ Tag

Boy’s Life, July 1936   Leave a comment

Boys Life, July 1936

Posted May 27, 2013 by henrymowry in Scouting

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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.

Ultimate Family Event   2 comments

When you set a goal, it should be challenging.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  If the goal is easily, quickly obtained, then it’s not a good goal.  Don’t waste your time “working” to meet a goal that you can do with your eyes closed.  When you’re going to go to all of the trouble of saying you have a goal, working towards it … make sure that it’s worth the effort so that when you get there, it’s going to be worth the effort to celebrate!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

In business, it has been called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  If you can get every member of your organization to buy in to a seemingly impossible goal … then you can achieve amazing things.

will.i.am

Setting big goals isn’t a new idea, of course.  It’s a pop culture phenomenon, too:  will.i.am got NASA to help him premiere his new song, “Reach for the Stars,” which became the first song broadcast from another planet when it was beamed back from Mars this year.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit

When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon

And I know the sky might be high

But baby it ain’t really that high

And I know that mars might be far

But baby it ain’t really that far

Let’s reach for the stars

What’s this got to do with the Ultimate Family Event, you ask?  EVERYTHING!

Our family tradition was to go camping every Memorial Day in the sequoias.  There’s a pair of adjacent National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, that are about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.  Our family built big memories there.  When we went camping one year, we had to set Lauren’s playpen up in a snowdrift (it is not warm in May at 7,000 feet!).  Another year, the kids got their first (unsuccessful) fishing experience.  We explored caves.  We saw really, really big trees.  Every year we did it, and every year it was great.

The Mowry family, ready to GO! Kings Canyon National Park, 1995.

In 1995, I wanted the family to go hiking.  By this time, Christopher was well into Boy Scouts, Michael was a Bear in Cub Scouts … and our Cub Scout Pack regularly went hiking locally.  But it was our big annual vacation in the Sequoias, and I wanted to push the envelope.

Two things happened during this vacation that became legendary in the family.  The first was Velda’s immortal announcement during our first dinner, “Look at that big dog!”  The “dog,” of course, was not a “dog,” it was a “deer.”  And so began Velda’s reputation for, uh, having trouble identifying wildlife.

The important thing that happened, though, was that we had a wonderful hiking experience.

It was in Kings Canyon National Park, and it started, appropriately enough, at “Road’s End.”  From there, we did a 9 mile loop hike to Mist Falls, which is the entrance to Paradise Valley.  Sounds gorgeous, right?  Yup.

John Muir is famous for his love of and passion for the California wilderness. His packing advice couldn’t have been simpler: “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” I don’t think he was traveling with a 5 year old, however.

Here’s the hitch:  Lauren was 5 years old.

5 years old.  9 mile hike.  At altitude.  Really?  Yup.  Let’s reach for the stars.

That was our family’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  We began talking about this hike weeks in advance.  The kids were always excited to go to the Sequoias, and were absolutely excited about the big hike we had planned.  They wanted to go.  They wanted to see Mist Falls.  We were going to conquer a 9 mile hike, and we were going to do it together with a kindergartner.

The morning went great.  The forest was lovely, the trail very well maintained, the King’s River was splashing merrily along with snow melt.  It was really a gorgeous hike.  We had lunch on the granite rocks overlooking Mist Falls.

And then it began to rain.   We were about 4 miles from the car.  This was a great mountain rain, with a quick temperature drop of 30* and grand claps of thunder in the thin mountain air that sounded like the world was ending.  There were guys on the trail in shorts & a t-shirt that were fighting hypothermia as they ran for their cars … which were 4 miles away.  “Road’s End,” remember?

The Scouting motto was and is key to our preparation for family outings.  Be prepared, indeed.  We had layers of warm clothing, and we had ponchos for everyone.  The temperature was not an issue, and the rain was not an issue.

Except for our kindergartner.  The poncho was actually too long for her short legs.  She had to be very careful; it was often a trip hazard when walking uphill.  She had to hold the poncho up, or it would drag on the ground.  No problem.  She looked like a yellow ghost as she chewed up miles of trail in the rain.

Did she hike 9 miles — 4 in the rain?  Absolutely.  There was never really a question in anyone’s mind, and the family achieved that big, impossible goal.

With poncho held high, the Mist Falls trek proved to be one of the best parts of this great family vacation in Kings Canyon National Park.

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