Introduction to an adult volunteer’s view of Boy Scouts, right in our area
This coming February, the Boy Scouts of America will be 100 years old.
As a boy, I started out as a “Wolf” (the first rank you could earn in the early 1970s), with Cub Scout Pack 141. As a parent, I came along side my son when he joined a Wolf Den as part of Pack 5 in Ann Arbor. That’s where I stepped up to become his Assistant Cubmaster, then served over two years as Cubmaster for that Pack.
When my son “crossed-over” into a Saline Boy Scout Troop, I moved along with him. Today I am the registered Chaplain with his Unit — a calling strongly feel, consistent with my own values of duty to God and country.
From my point of view, the next century for our Boy Scouts of America is going to be stronger and even more relevant than the last. My periodic “Scout Chaplain on the Great Sauk Trail” column is here to tell you why.
Last Saturday, the Huron Trails District conducted one of its regular new leader training programs at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Green Road. Within the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”), we joke that our organization must have a documented procedure for almost anything you could imagine.
Training is a key benefit to parents for a variety of reasons. The first, as far as I’m concerned, is safety and consistency. The second is in giving me the opportunity to back-up with resources what I advocate to parents: Take on an official role and you’ll gain a closer parent-son relationship. Training tells you exactly how to be your best for the youth you’re here to serve.
It’s also fun. Sure, fun for the boys. But I’m talking about indulging many of the childlike ways it can be fun for the adults.
Our District Chair, Howard Conlon, is a great leader in this regard (among so many others). He was on-hand throughout the day on October 10. I think there’s always a little added spark whenever Mr. Conlon’s available. He reminds and gives us permission as adults to see things through the eyes of, in this case, our first- through fifth-grade Cub Scouts. Permission to have fun.
Or, as Lord Robert Baden-Powell would have said: We make it “a game with a purpose.” As the founder of Scouting, “B-P” knew a thing or two.
My initial role in the training this time was to talk about the various opportunities available to Cub Scouts for growing in their individual faiths. Spiritual growth is fundamental to being a Scout. But within that, the personal choices are quite diverse. I emphasized the importance of faith, and provided a path to resources.
Additionally, I was asked to cover some larger topics, per my role as Huron Trails District Vice-Chair for Membership. This is now my third year in the position. Our Membership Committee is responsible for helping boys join area Packs at any time, but most visibly in the Fall and Spring. My team also assists with the growth of Boy Scout Troops. A lot of people know that fifth-grade Cub Scouts, called “Webelos,” can graduate (“cross over”) into Troops; it’s also common for boys who have never been Cubs to join for the first time as Boy Scouts, once they reach the age of eleven.
Another broad area of Membership is in the formation of new Units. Packs, Troops, and “Venture Crews.” Crews are open to both young men and young women. I personally helped a new Crew get off the ground last fall at a local church up the street from my home in Saline. Every so often I run into that Crew President and her dad around town, always with updates — on successes and struggles.
I’m sure they’re open to new members, if you or someone you know is interested.
Finally, this introduction wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the serendipity I’ve been blessed to see as a “Scouter” (that’s what we call adult leaders, to distinguish what we do from the youth we should be keeping as our focus).
On May 28, 2008, I was on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington, and, more particularly, in the archives of its Lilly Library. This was in conjunction with a modest role I had in celebrations of “The Ian Fleming Centenary,” commemorating what would have been his one-hundredth birthday.
Ian Fleming is best known as creator of James Bond. Outside of Scouting, I’m involved in the identification and study of wristwatches related to this author and his brand-name Double-O character.
What you may not know about Mr. Fleming is that he was in his own right an accomplished collector of non-fiction first editions. So, beyond housing original manuscripts for the 007 books, the Lilly Library has pieces that Ian Fleming acquired, including the only complete copy that’s known to exist of Scouting for Boys: The words through which Lord Robert Baden-Powell started a youth program about to celebrate 100 years here in America.
It’s nice to remember holding that copy in my hands as we embark here with AnnArbor.com en route to Scouting 2010!