Monday, October 22, 2012

A Scout Is...

At this juncture reading my blog, I'm pretty sure you have realized I was a Boy Scout, I am a Cubmaster, I met the Trophy at a Scout camp and have been active in the Scouts for many years.  The Boy Scouts of America has been a huge part of my life and who I am since 1986.

I started as a Bear Cub Scout in 1986, so I was actually a little late to the party but that didn't matter, I was having fun.  I got to wear the cool uniform, do craft projects, build things out of wood, get awards and even learn about nature.  I raced a car down a track that my grandfather helped me build, enjoyed a huge banquet and met a bunch of friends.  I went to the Webelos Den where I spent a year and a half learning new things, camping and hiking all while still having fun doing the craft projects and racing Pinewood Derby cars.

I crossed over to the Boy Scout Troop in 1989 and it was a whole new world for me.  Instead of Den Leaders holding your hands and planning everything, you had a Scoutmaster and his Assistants who guided you and the Scouts in the Troop as you planned and ran everything.  It was actually scary.  I went from being the oldest in the Cub Scout Pack to being the youngest in the Boy Scout Troop.  Once I settled in and found my place in the Troop it wasn't bad at all, in fact it was a lot of hard work.  We were taught right away though, if you work hard, you get to play harder.  It was fun!

We did a weekend camping trip every month, rain or shine, sleet or snow.  We learned how to stay cheerful while being miserable.  I attended a week of summer camp each year where I earned merit badges, met new Scouts and of course had fun.  I learned how to build a shelter in the middle of the woods, how to rescue someone who was drowning and even swam a mile.  I have slept in a snow shelter, I went on weekend canoe trips, hiked 50 miles and did community service like cleaning up the roadways, painting sheds and building a park.  I earned different awards and soon became one of the older boys in the Troop.  As Senior Patrol Leader I passed along the wisdom that my SPL instilled on me.  I built character, learned how to come out of my shell and be proud of what I did.

I did something that no one else has done since my hometown was founded in 1781, I became the town's first Eagle Scout.  Earning the Eagle Scout award is something that only 2% of all Boy Scouts earn.  The Eagle Scout award can be used a lot in your adult life.  It helps you get into college, the military and even during job interview.  You never say you "were an Eagle Scout" you tell people you "are an Eagle Scout".  On top of being an Eagle Scout, I am also a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, which is the BSA's honor camper group.

 After turning the magic age of 18, you have two choices in the Boy Scouts, you can leave or you can become an Adult Leader, I naturally chose to become an Assistant Scoutmaster.  I worked and volunteered at a Boy Scout camp for close to ten years and helped over 1600 Scouts work towards their goals each summer.  I helped out at higher levels as well.  I helped out at the District and Council level.  I did all of this because I wanted to give back to the organization that helped me.

I had to take a couple years off from being a Leader in the Scouting program because I moved around a lot but once I finally settled into our house now, I was right back into it.  I was a Den Leader and quickly was asked to be Cubmaster for our Pack.  Today I work with ten other Den Leaders to provide a quality and fun program for close to fifty Cub Scouts and their families.
Yes, this is me from this summer.
I am not telling you all of this to make myself look good and to brag.   I am telling you this to tell you what the Boy Scouts of America has to offer.  The BSA has come under fire from several different groups because of policies they have in place and I am not going to shed light on those policies as I'm sure you've already read or heard about them.  What I just told you was only my Scouting experience and in comparison it is nothing to what I never got the chance to do.  Scouting has been given an unfair, bad rap in the past couple of years and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I can't even come remotely close to explaining what I am talking about as well as others, so I will refer you over to a friend of mine and a former Scouter, who writes Funny Odd Thing, Life... and his post On My Honor.  Take a few minutes and read this.  Everything he says is dead on with how I feel about that situation.

Of course now the "list" has been released of 1400 former members of the BSA that were removed from their positions.  Keep in mind that this was a list from 1985 and earlier...all in the past.  There are trainings and programs in place that make the Boy Scouts of America a better and safer place.  

You don't hear this too often, but people need to stop looking at the big picture and focus on the local Troops, Pack and Crews in their towns.  A Unit (Troop, Pack or Crew) is basically a "franchise" and is run by volunteers with the assistance of the local District Leaders.  For the most part a Unit can run how it wants, as long as it is providing a quality program that is fun for the boys AND girls who are part of Scouting.  As a Cubmaster I get paid, not with money however, but with the Thank You's and You're Awesome's that the Scouts say when they see me in and outside of the Scouting world.  An added bonus is when one of their siblings sees me and makes a point to tell their friends that I am her/his brother's Scout Leader and that "I'm pretty cool."

The moral of this blog post is simple.  When you see a Scout or a group of Scouts selling popcorn, candy bars or are doing community service with a donation jar out, don't say you won't give to them because of the policies, they have nothing to do with them, they are trying to earn money for trips, awards, uniforms and in some cases a summer camp experience.  Don't penalize the local Scouts because you are looking at the big picture this time.  The local Scouting program in your area has a lot to teach and offer the boys and girls that other groups don't.

My second year as a Boy Scout, I'm the handsome one holding the Troop flag.


  1. What a great and important post! As a Cubmaster, new to scouting, I now know how important the program is to the kids. THEY are what scouting is all about. You are a model for the program pal!

    1. Exactly! In fact at one of my last Leader meetings, I told the leaders I wasn't doing this for them, I was doing it for the 50 kids who are looking for a great program.

      Congrats again on the Cubmaster role, you'll do great as long as you don't expose them to that Instagram crap.

  2. Ha, I felt like you were writing this to me. We did buy the popcorn, by the way.

    1. Are you one of those people who need to look at the smaller picture??

    2. Oh, you never saw that post? Yeah, I appreciate that *most* people involved in Scouting aren't bigots, but until those policies are abolished, I'm not a fan.

  3. Sad when the kids are affected by the public's decision to penalize an organization by refusing to support it. Great post Kevin. An important reminder of the positives of scouting that far outweigh the attitudes a segment of the organization.

  4. Great posting! And I agree with ModMom on this one! I was a girl scout for many years (brownies to senior scout and assistant camp counselor) Oh those were the days that I thought made me not ever want to have kids of my own. Now I could never get my kids interested in scouts. :/ We did take them camping lots of weekends and used that opportunity to teach them things. One of my kids can make a monkey knot better than me. Def enjoyed your posting!