Judy, a former council trainer and outdoor lover, shares how scouting was a blessing for her child, her scout family and herself.
When my son was still active in the BSA, my husband and I were too. We decided to take on scouting as a family and thereby experience many of the fun times and adventures he was a part of.
There is a whole level of scouting that many don’t realize exists. As adult scouters we’ve made so many life-long friends, bonds that will never be broken. The camaraderie that comes from like-minded adults whose goals are to see young men and women succeed in life is a bonus we didn’t expect to find in scouting.
I became a trainer on a council level and participated in several “Scout Master Specifics” weekends. One weekend would be devoted to seminars and classroom learning and the second weekend was outdoor training. We would gather at our local scout camp, set up patrols and run a camporee, just as if the trainees were boys themselves. This way they would learn the in and outs of social living that camping provides and also give them a taste of how much fun cooperating in order to achieve goals can be.
For the outdoor weekends I taught nature, taking scouters on walks through the woods to point out the flora and fauna of the Great Pine Barrens of New Jersey. You’d be amazed at how many different species of oak trees there are in a very small area. I had books on tree identification, birds, insects, wildflowers and animal tracks, that I lay out on a table for folks to look at.
One of the other things I did was run a “Kim’s Game”. It’s a little like the game, Concentration, that can be played with cards, but in Kim’s Game there is a cloth that is set out on a table top.
On the cloth a large selection of items are laid out, 20 or more objects. In my case they were all related to nature studies in our geographical area. I would have branches from different trees, animal bones, feathers, nuts, mosses, flowers, dead insects, etc. I would have them all on the cloth and have another cloth that covered it. For a span of 90 seconds I would uncover the trove and everyone was to memorize the items there. (No touching, only looking.) Then it would all be covered back up. After that each team was given 3 minutes to write down everything they could remember. The team that did the best won.
The other game I would run was a scavenger hunt. I would send each team all over the campground to find specific items. In the list I always included a piece of garbage and fossil. There was a spot in camp, right where we held our ceremonies, that was rich in little fossils.
My aim in these games was to teach these leaders how to love the outdoors, so that they could teach our youth to love the outdoors too.
I no longer participate in training. My husband has been scout master in my son’s troop for 16 years now. Before that he was an assistant scout master for a few years. My son, the Eagle Scout, is 33 years old. We’re waiting for our first little new scout to come along. no sign yet, but we’ll be patient!
I’ve told many, many scout parents that the best way to see their kids succeed in scouting is to be involved with them in it. Not all scout masters agree with this point of view, but I truly believe that if you want to be involved in your child’s troop and have not been welcomed, maybe you should think about finding a troop that does.
Judy Goddard is a mother and former Boy Scout volunteer. She blogs about faith and her mission trip to Nigeria at “Christ in Me.”