Tomorrow my son and I start Cub Scouts. I have to admit that I have some mixed emotions about the idea. I joined Boy Scouts in the fifth grade and it was was of the pivotal moments in my life. I didn’t really get along with the boys at my school and preferred to hang out by myself. When the scoutmaster of the local troop came by, I talked to my father about joining and he took me.
From that very first meeting, I was hooked on Scouting. Here were kids that didn’t know me when I was six and didn’t have any preconceived notions about who I was. They only saw a new kid. I ended up staying with that troop until my 18th birthday. I earned my Eagle Scout 16 days shy of becoming an adult. To this day, no single childhood activity shaped me as Boy Scouts did. I can still rattle off the Scout Oath and Law and I still try to live by those principles.
So why the ambivalence?
I graduated from college with a music degree (another great story). It is a wonderful degree to have if you want to be a teacher or a professional. I’m not a professional and I didn’t think I had the patience to teach a class of kids, so I started looking for something else. After applying to be a vacuum cleaner salesman (not kidding), I decided that I had hit bottom. I called my father to ask him about the life of a salesman. After he deciphered the sales lingo for me, I just couldn’t see myself selling anything. At that point he suggested I head to the local Scouting office and see if they any job openings.
I walked in the Scout off ice in Reno, NV and talked to the lady at the sales desk. I told her that I was and Eagle Scout who just graduated from college and I was looking for a job. She looked at me like I was a little crazy and took me to the back of the office. She approached the man who would become my boss and whispered, ‘That kid is an Eagle Scout and he wants a job’. Oi.
A few minutes later I was called back to the ‘office’ of the field director and we started to talk. At the start of the next month, I was a professional Boy Scout.
My time in Reno was wonderful and still have a number of good friends in the area. After several years my wife and I moved to Las Vegas and I took the same job. That didn’t work out as well.
While in Las Vegas I discovered that some parents where only in Scouting for themselves. Their son(s) were almost incidental. Moreover, that population of Scouters were highly concentrated in Cub Scouting.
I should clarify that this kind of parent comprised a small portion of the parents I worked with. Buy the potency is one of things that drove me from the profession.
I remember that one of my first thoughts when I found out we were having a boy is that I didn’t want him in Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts, fine. Cub Scouts, no. I hope that my experience as a professional will help me guide my son through some of the potential problems. Hopefully our pack will have parents who recognize that the boy is the key, not them. I will be in a position to shield him from that, should it come up, but I hope it does not.
I’ll keep y’all posted.
And so it goes.