This morning, while waiting for Little Brother’s basketball game to start, I was talking with his Cub Scout den leader (whose son was on the opposing team). He mentioned that after next weekend’s Blue and Gold Dinner, which will feature the boys’ crossover into Boy Scouting, his son probably will not continue in Scouting.

That’s a shame.

At first I thought that the boy just didn’t feel like Scouting was for him. I told the den leader that my older son had felt that way for a while, and we asked him to just give it a certain amount of time. If he still didn’t like it after that time, he could walk away.

Apparently, though, that wasn’t the case. This young man is having academic difficulties in school. His parents are considering after-school tutoring to help him improve his reading skills. That’s a good course of action to take, and I hope that it helps. But then, the den leader went on, they had decided that if he does go to a tutoring center, he won’t be allowed to go to Scouts until his grades improve.

That’s an even bigger shame. Before the opening buzzer to the game sounded, I tried to convince this dad that Scouting was definitely worth the investment of time, and that his son would learn about managing his time as part of his Scout training.

I probably failed, unfortunately.

In this town (and many towns surrounding mine) the emphasis is ALL on sports. Little Brother is one of the few boys his age who is held to a strict “one sport per season” limit. I’ve known several kids who play on two or more teams for the same sport during the same season, and always wondered what happens when the inevitable schedule conflict comes up. The boy in question here plays multiple sports in a season, sometimes on travel teams whose games are an hour or more away. I’m not against sports–my kids are athletes too–but a steady diet of nothing but sports is awfully limiting for an eleven-year-old.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.–the Boy Scout Law

Yes, you’ll get some of that in sports. Ultimately, though, the goal in sports is to win. The goal in Scouting is to fulfill that Law. By doing so, it’s not only the Scout who wins.

And when a child’s punishment for poor grades (or poor conduct) is removal from his Scout troop, he definitely loses.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Little Brother is getting ready to go on his very first camping trip with the Boy Scouts. The troop has invited the Webelo 2 den along on this weekend’s camping trip so that the Webelos can begin to learn the camping skills they’ll need as Boy Scouts.

There has been much packing and preparing. Last night he began gathering his stuff and stuffing it into an old backpack. We had gotten him a multi-tool-utensil (Swiss Army silverware?) and it was still in the plastic clamshell package. He spent more than 10 minutes with his Scout knife, stabbing that clamshell in random places.

I could have taken care of the situation with one swipe of my kitchen shears, but I let him struggle with it himself, even when that struggle proved potentially dangerous to his fingers and my coffee table.

That’s a lot of trouble to go to, especially when you consider that this kid still doesn’t use utensils on a regular basis.

This morning I tripped over his fully-packed backpack with the flashlight sticking out of the front pocket. I asked him if he’d packed extra batteries for the flashlight.

“I won’t need those,” he informed me. “I’ll have the moon and the stars to be my light.”

Good luck with that.

(He packed the batteries.)

The Silver Lining

This weekend was the semi-annual Cub Scout Babka Sale.  It’s a LOT of work, especially for Mr. Cubmaster, who drives all the way to Elizabeth (about 90 miles each way) to get the babka, then shuttles it between 2 churches to cover the 4 Masses for the weekend.

It was a whole lot of EXTRA work this weekend because of all the no-shows.  At two of the four Masses, Little Brother was the only Scout there.  Only one other Scout leader was there all weekend.  The pack didn’t make much money this year, because we had 26 babka left over (usually we sell out, but people don’t want to wait in line, so the key is to have lots of little salespeople to keep things moving.)

I got a distress call from TheDad (Mr. Cubmaster) at 8:30, telling me that no one else had shown up at the 8:00 Mass and that I needed to get over there to staff the tables.  After that, I headed over to the other church to help set up for the 10:00 Mass and sale.  On the way, I heard a new-to-me singer-songwriter on the radio, and he played what has become my New Favorite Song:

I just love it, and I hope you do too. This song says what music means to me. This is why I do what I do, regardless of the way things go in church-music politics. This Palm Sunday, I was reminded of why I am thankful to God–every day–for the gift of music in my life.

And if I hadn’t been in the car shuttling between churches to get to a babka sale I wasn’t supposed to staff, I would never have heard my New Favorite Song.

So I am thankful for that silver lining today!

Are the Stars Out Tonight?

So my husband and I went over to the Boy Scout Spaghetti Dinner in 2 separate cars because the Cub Scouts are planning to leave right after spaghetti for an astronomy field trip.

I’d been gone all day, so at dinner, my husband (Mr. Cubmaster) gave me the scoop on the plans for the evening.

“After dinner I’m going over to where they’re meeting and I’ll make sure everyone has directions and see them off.  Then I’m going to come back here and hang out with the Boy Scout leaders.  Little Brother will be with me because he wants to help with the dinner.”  (Translation:  Little Brother wants to hang out with the Big Boys.  And they put up with him, so it’s all good.  And sometimes he actually helps, a little.)

So I ate my dinner and enjoyed the ’80s music provided by the Troop’s own DJs, the Clubmasters.  (Nice job, guys.  I particularly enjoyed “Addicted to Love,” for the record.)

I asked my husband, the meteorologist, if this trip was even going to happen.

“It’s cloudy,” he said.  “There won’t be anything to see.  Even if they go, I’m not going.”

“What if Little Brother wants to go?”

“I’m not going.  After they all leave, I’ll bring Little Brother back here.”

OK.  Middle Sister and I finished our food; she visited with her friends among the Scouts and we left.  I wasn’t expecting them back for about another hour anyway–and then my cell phone buzzed to signal a new text.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Yup.  They went.  Should be interesting to hear all about how that went down.

Advent in My House: They’re On Fire

Too much Boy Scout. Not enough reverence.

For example:

…they start the meal by musing, “I wonder if I can sneeze the candles out tonight.”

…Big Brother is running out of clever ways to light the match. (Tomorrow we may have to do the Boy Scout flint thing. That could keep him busy for a while).

…they have been picking the wax drippings off the sides of the candles and stacking them around the wick, campfire-style. (Note to self: next year, buy the dripless kind.)

…they are begging to light the fourth candle because “we won’t be eating dinner at home on Sunday night, and we need to use it sometime.”

Here’s where I am seriously glad that Advent is as short as it possibly can be this year!