Monday, February 20, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 13

Day 13

Just wanted to share this logo for the Catholic Committee on Scouting.

Today was a down day, recovering from an unpleasant stomach bug.

Managed to finally get a lot of drafts finalized and posted, so I hope you are enjoying them.  It has been quite a week.

I got to speak with a mom today whose son will finally be old enough to be a Tiger on 01 JUN.  They are pretty excited, having watched other families from afar.  I know of 5 new Tigers so far, and I haven't begun my "spring rush" for new members yet.  Could be a big year!

Going back to bed--and hoping you don't get this!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 12

Day 12

...and then it was my turn.  Everyone seems be recovering from a 24 hour stomach bug, so they can help me like I helped them.

Today's Scouting will consist of reading email and trying not to share the illness outside of my home.

A Scout is courteous...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 11

Day 11

Those reading these posts know that yesterday was a tough day.

My fellow Scouts are to finish our great trip, while I am home tending to the sick.

At 7AM, my son, the Life Scout, comes up the stairs quite unexpectedly.  They should almost be in Washington DC now.

Seems that one of the Scouts caught the bug, and his dad had to take him home, because as luck would have it his mom was gone that weekend since they were backpacking.  That only left one too few to make the trip.

Outwardly, I'm sympathetic to everyone's disappointment.

Inwardly, I'm kicking my heels that I won't miss our finale.

Now to reschedule it quickly before the oldest boy ages out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 10

Day 10

We have waited for this weekend for a very long time.

Four and a half years, to be precise.

A brand new troop of three Boy Scouts, all former Lone Scouts, and two Webelos Scouts who were about to make the jump to the troop began what is still our best project: backpacking the entire 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal.

The oldest was 16, and he would age out before we finished.  Another will age out in about 60 days, and we are making the effort to knock out the last 16 miles before he does.  He has been through all of the miles and trips up to this point.  The third Boy Scout just attained Eagle Scout status.  One of the Webelos Scouts is now a Life Scout, and the other is the SPL.  

The troop has grown to 22 Scouts, which stuns everyone.  Five more boys will move up from the pack, days before he ages out and graduates from high school.

This journey has been in pieces over the years, giving our troop legends and stories to pass along to the younger Scouts.  

The Life Scout, the SPL, the one aging out and I have completed the other 168.5 miles together.  So this is historic and a bit emotional.  We wrap up one adventure as these boys begin new ones--college, work and their own paths to Eagle.  I have watched, in way too short a window, these boys have become men who really only need me to be there because the rules say we need adults.

They have all the skills needed, and can out hike me any day.  I can still get 10-12 miles in, 15 if I have to, but they do it so fast.  And with such ease.

My phone rings from where we are staging our trip--getting a good night of sleep before the finale.  My family is dropping with a stomach virus at home, and there really isn't anyone old enough left to be in charge and help the sick.

I am momentarily torn.  These guys--let's be honest, my friends--are going to complete this now without me.  

Duty calls, and I leave them with final advice, reminders about watching the weather, and instructions about enjoying this last great moment.

Take a picture boys.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 9

Day 9

Just take your eye off of the ball for a little while, and what happens?

A granny knot instead a square knot.

I'm kind of exhausted after last night, and keep replaying it in my head.

Scouting became a big struggle for me after the 100 Days ended last spring.  I tried to move on to a couple of other 100 Days projects, but gave it up after a while.

The reality is, that I was doing a lot and not really getting much back from it.  I had just completed my Wood Badge training, and should have been on a high.  But that wasn't the case.  I struggled through summer camp with my Cub Scouts and a few weeks later with my Boy Scouts.  Maybe no one else could tell, but I felt like I was just going through the motions.  At Wood Badge I was asked to be put up for District Commissioner, a job I really felt I could do well--and very ego-satisfying.  It fell through, and I never found out why.  We lost our District Executive and District Chairman in the same timetable, so it was like all the legs of the stool had been knocked away.

My resolve and love of the program haven't faltered.  And burn-out seemed too easy to blame it on.  There was still plenty of work to do.

I didn't feel like I was making a difference.

Last night got me to thinking about that, and the struggle I'm having still.  But I was able to reach out to a young Scout in need, in his moment of need.

And of course, it is all worth it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 8

Day 8

Tonight is our meeting night.

I have a Bear den as part of my weekly hour...followed by our troop meeting...another hour...and change each week.

Before the den meeting a mom called me aside to discuss her son's behavior.  He is fairly new to the pack, a first-year Webelos Scout.  Very enthusiastic, energetic...and for our mostly homeschooled group, very "public".  At 10, he has quite the troubled background, and his mom brought him to Scouts for exposure to "good male role models".  From her comments, he has pretty much only had bad ones.  Some real bad.

We are fortunate, I think, in that all of our den leaders are men--that he gets to see an abundance of men who lead and care about the boys.

I knew from the outset that we would need to keep an eye on him, heeding his mom's cautionary comments to us.  She understood that if we had any of his "issues", that he would have to be pulled.

This Scout always tests the boundaries, but snaps into shape when you advise him that he's straying over the line.  When a man has no boundaries, he acts like he wants, without fear or care of others.  That he listens to our correction is probably a miracle.  But he does.

I want to say that this time she wanted to talk to us about how life-changing our program has been for him.  How much he has grown and turned his life around.

But that isn't the case.  In fact, he's been suspended several times from school, is acting out his aggression on personal property at home and at school, using inappropriate language, and acting with a full measure of disrespect everywhere.

Except at Scouts.

Her concern was if he was acting like this at Scouts.  Her fear was that we were having to put up with a hellion.  She was confused, or maybe shocked, when we told her that he acts within the normal behavior swings of a 10 year-old boy.  She thinks pulling him from Scouts might be all that she has left to threaten.

I offered to speak to him after his den meeting, to try to reach him.

We met with his den leader observing, just the three of us.  I asked him how things were going.  He said, "Fine."  And then looked down and mumbled, "not so good."

I reminded him of our very first meeting only four months ago.  Respect for each other is expected.  It doesn't have to be earned--but given and received.  I listen to you, you listen to me.  You call me Mr. White and I'll call you Mr. X-and-such.

I told him that while he is at Scouts he is choosing to be well-behaved, helpful and a good Scout.  I reminded him that a couple of blocks away is a building full of men who made bad choices.  He knew exactly what I meant.  We talked (yeah, mostly me) about how if he chooses to be a great kid here, how he might choose to be a great kid at school and at home.  I tried to show him how he was in control of it, since he could control it around us.

Bad language is a good example.  I told him that I used to use bad language until about 15 years ago, I got to thinking about it.  I never, ever, did in in front of my mother.  Or my grandmother.  Or our parish priest.  The light-bulb went off!  I was choosing poor behavior because I could control it around others.  So I stopped cold-turkey, but that is another story.

I advised this young man that he was exactly that: a young man.  He was at the point of making some bad choices that couldn't be fixed at school, at home or at Scouts.  I pointed at that building again and told him that this was the point they started making the kinds of bad choices that put them in jail.

A long pause to let it sink in.  I reminded him that I'm not mad at him, because he is always fine at Scouts.  We talked (yes, still mostly me) about being a Scout all the time.  We talked about it being time to grow up a little, and start making some good choices.  It was time to say, "I'm sorry" and to mean it.

Now, I suspect not many folks have ever said they were sorry to him, so the concept is pretty foreign.  His mom is worn down, his teachers know his reputation before they ever set eyes on him.  And in many ways, he is surely getting what he deserves.

So I encouraged him to say he was sorry to his mother and his teacher, and to offer to help make up for it.  I advised that it won't always be easy, sometimes it will be embarrassing, sometimes it won't be accepted.

But everyone respects a man who admits his failures, says he is sorry and tries to make up for it.


Now I don't have any misconceptions about the power of my talk.  It was a good talk, but the odds are stacked against him and his wounds are pretty deep.

But there is something about Scouting that reaches him, and I hope it isn't too late.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

3rd 100 Days of Scouting: Day 7

Day 7

If this picture looks a little familiar, it is the same as yesterday's but back when the pool was still full of water, and the world was a lot more black-and-white.

Not a lot of Scouting today.

I cleared a lot of Scouting stuff off of my desk, and got all of the loose pins and patches rounded up and stored in a more secure spot.