Sunday, February 3, 2013

Welcome to Boy Scouts: An open letter to new parents

2/29/2008 (Yes it was leap day)

“Monday was Conner’s first Boy Scout Meeting and it was fun for him and hard on me. I felt pretty useless. Well it was only day one.I am just not ready for Conner to grow up and not want me around him as much anymore. I love spending time with and him that seems to not be point of Boy Scouts. It is just going to take some time to get used to it.”

This was my journal entry from five years ago as my son crossed over from Webelos to Boy Scouts.

Now is the season of crossovers as Scouts around the country leave the world of Cub Scouts and join the exciting and very different world of Boy Scouts. I was the Webelos Den Leader and very active with my son. I was also used to being the guy in charge and the person at the center of attention. Suddenly I found myself mostly wandering around the hall wondering what the heck I was to do now.

Thankfully, the adults of the Troop took some time to bring me in the fold and explain the world of the boy led Troop. They explained that now was the time to sit back, watch my son grow (from afar) and take some time to find my own niche in the Troop.

I admit it was hard at first but it did not take long to find myself very busy. Meanwhile, my son was off with his New Scout Patrol learning how to be independent and how to be a leader. Yes I did not see him much during campouts this first year. I did see the change in him as his confidence grew knowing he could learn and do great things without his dad hovering over him.

My separation pain truly helped him learn many wonderful lessons he would have never learned with me right at his side.

Since this time, I have seen many moms and dads with that same look and that same frustration that I felt those first few months. Some made the transition well and let the program be the program. They saw their sons grow and learn through the Patrol method and they found their own niche to help on the Troop committee, on campouts and in many other ways.

I have also seen parents that just could not make the transition. They failed to get plugged in and failed to let go. This almost always led to hard feelings, misunderstandings and Scouts either leaving Scouting or joining a Troop with “more parent involvement.”

If you are crossing with your Scout to a real boy led Troop do not fear! There is a place for you to plug in and get busy. Let the program work and your investment will reap rewards in the life of your son that you will see for many years to come.
If you are a veteran adult with parents joining you, take a moment to remember how you felt in those early days and get to know your new folks. They may not express it overtly but chances are that they are far more nervous than the kid about being a new Scout. Your friendly hello and happy advice will make them feel at home and perhaps just might save a future leader from leaving.

Welcome to Boy Scouts! You are in for many years of great fun!