In just a few hours, we’ll gather up the family and head out to a little church in the country. Both sets of grandparents will join us as we enjoy a chicken dinner and witness another milestone along Simon’s path to Eagle Scout. Tonight he’ll be welcomed to the rank of Star Scout.
If you’re not a part of a boy scouting family, you probably don’t know what all goes into earning these ranks. Perhaps the patch-covered khaki shirt isn’t something that calls to your junior men. But in our family, scouting is a big part of the childhood journey. It’s not something we decided early-on that we’d do with our boys – at least, it wasn’t on my mind – but it’s an activity that we’ve all put a lot of time, energy, frustration, money and heart into.
Simon was first introduced to scouting at a community night at his elementary school. Some of the boy scouts had a table to recruit the little guys to join Cub scouts. They had a shirt with all of the patches and pins, a camping slideshow, and stories of summer camps where archery, bb guns and ropes courses awaited them. Simon was hooked. We visited our first meeting in the Fall of 2006. It wasn’t long after that he declared that he was “born to be a scout”.
Now that he’s just two ranks from Eagle, it’s hard to imagine our lanky, confident young man as that sweet, round-faced little Tiger Scout peaking out of that old war plane at his first air show. He’s worked hard. He’s spent a lot of his time learning about camping, wilderness cooking, geocaching, water safety, life-saving and backpacking. He’s camped out in the winter, for heaven’s sake! He’s also learned about his faith and what it means to be a man of his word, how to be reliable and what it takes to be a leader. And although he loves his golf clubs, video games and iPod, he’s happiest walking a trail or fishing…and that makes his parents’ hearts sing!
Tonight he’ll be presented with his Genealogy badge, too. He spent his Christmas break building his family’s tree on ancestry.com. He and his Dad visited the Historical Society. They visited and interviewed Matt’s grandma so Simon could write a short biography of his great-grandma Jaykla’s life. (So much more worthwhile than another Spongebob marathon on Nickelodeon!)
(And although I’m not sure that Jonah is as diehard into scouting as Simon is, he’s enjoyed the summer camps and adventures of Cub Scouts. In fact, next month Jonah will advance in rank to an official Webelos scout.)
So, when you hear about what a bigoted, discriminatory organization the Boy Scouts is, please remember that you’re hearing the dirty laundry of a fine organization that’s helped thousands of families raise boys who are “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverant.” You’re hearing the most disgruntled and abused of an organization that is thousands strong, voicing hurts that were caused by the few. Scouting isn’t anti-gay; it’s pro-tradition of church, of family, of country. There is no room for hazing, name-calling or rude behavior in scouting. If you’ve experienced that, you’re the victim of flawed, sinful humans who behaved badly.
We’re thankful for the experiences we’ve had together as a family, for the values scouting has helped us build in our boys and for the friends we’ve made in these seven years. Eagle Scout is a 12+ year commitment that these boys and their families have made to walk in the footsteps of men like Neil Armstrong, Gerald R. Ford, Donald Rumsfeld, Walter Cronkite, Dick Lugar and William DeVries. I just hope that the accomplishments of our young men won’t be tainted by the sensationalism of the media in covering the story.