My son was 12 years old the first time he prepare an entire meal for 6 other boys. Not only did he prepare it, he planned the menu, and arranged for another boy to buy the ingredients, not to exceed $5 per person.
It wasn’t anything fancy, but his dinner partners didn’t seem to care, and there were no leftovers. Sloppy Joe’s with a big mixed salad, Gatorade, and a peach cobbler cooked in a Dutch oven for dessert. It looked very good, and I was very proud of him.
It did not occur to me at first, but I later realized that I was in my 20’s when I first cooked for more than 2 people. Why did I wait so long? The answer is in one word, opportunity. That’s what the Boy Scouts gave my son. An opportunity to be in charge and to do things his parents would never have expected him to do.
My son joined a local Rincon Valley Boy Scout troop when he was 11. We did not push him into, in fact, it was his idea. Some of his elementary school friends had joined a troop and suggested he check it out. He went on a few hikes as a guest then joined. A year later he was planning menus, preparing duty rosters, and helping with cleaning chores. Within 4 years he obtained the rank of First Class Scout, then lost interest but he inspired his little brother to join a Rincon Valley Cub Scout pack. That’s a different story.
Before my kids got into scouting, all I knew about the Boy Scouts of America was what I saw in the Peanuts cartoons. Snoopy, wearing a scoutmaster hat, leading Woodstock and the other birds on a hike. Let me tell you, that image is inaccurate. Boy Scouts is about teaching boys to be leaders. Learning life skills in an age appropriate manner. The classroom for these lessons is the great outdoors. Boys leading other boys on hikes with the adult leaders in the rear. Boys teaching boys knots, songs, and doing service projects. I was Scoutmaster for several years of a Rincon Valley Boy Scout troop, and once a year, the kids would vote on and pick 12 trips they wanted to go on for the up coming year. On each trip, a senior scout was selected to be in charge of the trip. He’d make sure each scout had the right equipment, and was prepared to go. During those trips, the scouts would form into small groups, each being responsible for their group’s food and equipment. At the end of the trip, certain scouts would take the equipment home, clean and inventory it, and make sure it was ready to go for the next trip.There are lots of leadership positions for kids in a troop. Scribe, Chaplain’s Aid, Quartermaster, Historian, Patrol Leader, and more.
One of the ways I see that Boy Scouts impacts boys is in the stories I hear from my peers when they find out I am involved in volunteering with scouts. “Oh I was a scout, I remember one time…” or “Is Camp Navarro still around? I use to go there every summer and we’d… ”
If you have a son who might be interested in scouting, there are 3 great troops in Rincon Valley. Troops 32, 55, and 121. If you want to contact the scoutmaster and arrange a visit or get more information, call the BSA Redwood Empire Council office at: 707.546.8137. You can also contact me, and I can help get in touch with somebody who can answer all your questions.
Do you have a favorite scout memory?