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SCOUTER Feature:

Family Scouting:
Involvement is Key to Good Experiences

by MaryAnn Gardner

A friend of mine is Den Leader for her nine year old son's Cub Scout Den. She works full time and, due to her husband's job requiring weekly travel, also happens to be the sole parent in the household during the week. She had just answered the Adults in Scouting Survey (see her answers below). And, we were visiting about it. I commented that her son was fortunate that she took the time to be involved with his activities.

"I hope my son realizes what I do for him," she said. "You see, I'm the parent who enforces the rules every day, who says 'No, you can't stay up late. It's a school night' or 'Yes, you have to clean your room,' or 'You must finish your homework before you play video games.' He tells the neighbors how his Dad plays catch with him on weekends. But, I wonder if he remembers the hours I spent with him in the back yard throwing a ball that he missed time after time, for weeks, until he finally learned how to catch it."

I suspect she has nothing to worry about. Children notice when someone spends time with them - when someone can be counted upon to always "be there" for them. They may not say so at seven, or nine, or thirteen years of age. But, eventually, they let it slip during a conversation (when they are 16, 17, or 20 something) that they knew you were there and grateful that you were. Because she shared her reasons for her participation, my friend's answers to the Adults in Scouting Survey really tell her story. You will probably find they are quite similar to your own.

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Reason for First becoming involved with Scouting:

I became involved when my son joined Tiger Cubs. This was a result of a
campaign at his school and many of his friends were joining.

I became an Assistant Den Leader to spend time with my son, learning about life in a situation where we had a group to provide insights and ideas beyond what he learned at home.

To new Scout Parents she says:

Be involved, don't just drop your child off and expect the Scout Leader to 'babysit'. Most Scout leaders will appreciate your involvement. Become a part of this learning experience with your child and you will both have memories for a lifetime. Don't let 'work', either at your job or at home, become more important than spending time learning and doing things with your child. He will never be this age again and he will only discover each new idea or activity one time. Be there to share it with him.

To new Scout Leaders she advises:

Let the kids be involved in planning and executing your activities. They can do more than we give them credit for and will enjoy the experience more if they have a hand in it. Don't always stick to your 'script'. Be open to discussions and activities that happen spontaneously (within reason).

The best thing she finds about being a Scout leader:

Being able to share my knowledge with children and sharing their adventures and learning experiences.

Was it worth it:

Yes - I never would have done some of the things with my son on our own that we have done as a group. Don't miss the experience.

* * * * *

Most of us join Scouting for the same reason - our own child. Most Scouts remain in the program because his/her family becomes involved in some way. A program may be excellent, but without parental support and encouragement, a Scout can quickly lose interest. An old rhyme comes to mind. I do not know the author, nor do I know the exact words. The meaning is powerful, just the same:

A boy forgets the things you buy him.
He forgets your scoldings - have no doubt.
But, no boy has ever yet forgotten
When he and his Dad and/or Mom camped out!