March 12, 2016 – Tonight I attended my son’s final event as a Cub Scout. The Blue & Gold Banquet is the capstone event at the end of each Scouting year. It is a time to celebrate the many achievements of the boys and to send the oldest boys on to Boy Scouts. It is a fun event and a moving experience. This was my 5th banquet. But this year it was my son’s turn to ‘cross over’ to Boy Scouts. I wasn’t prepared
As much as I thought about this moment over the past few months, I wasn’t prepared.
As much as I was moved to watch Webelos cross to Boy Scouts each of the prior four years, I wasn’t prepared.
As much as I enjoy seeing my son’s growth in character, I wasn’t prepared.
My son joined Scouts five years ago. He needed to be in Scouting. I needed him to be in Scouting. Since my husband and I separated my heart ached for him to have a consistent male presence in his life. I was there – I loved him enough for two. But this child needed more. More than I could give. More than I could be.
Before he entered first grade I began looking for a Pack and there was one chartered out of his elementary school. It was perfect. I contacted the Cub Master and had the most wonderful conversation with him about Scouting and the way the Pack supported the boys and encouraged their exploration and character development. I felt such relief – I was feeling woefully inadequate as a single mom at that time. He didn’t care that my kid had some challenges. He didn’t care if we could afford a uniform. He didn’t care if I lived around the corner or a town away. He cared about sharing his love of Scouting – and learning important skills in a fun way – with as many boys as possible. Then he told me about the person he was recruiting to lead this youngest group of incoming Scouts (Tigers, as they were known). He was an Eagle Scout, and a science teacher. Could it be any more perfect? My little sponge craved scientific discovery. Things were falling into place.
We were apprehensive at our first meeting (which was almost 2 months into the Scout year). Then we slowly made our way into the Pack. In a very short time these people became important in our lives. The break up of our family left a hole bigger than either my son or I could comprehend or articulate. That hole was covered by five new ‘brothers’ for my only child – and the welcoming arms of five families.
None of them knew how isolated I had let myself become. No one knew what a struggle it was some weeks for us to come to meetings – for my son and for me. This commitment we made together meant he needed to be at these meetings and work through his struggles and it meant I needed to step out of my walled-in anger and fear to engage with people again.
This Den of little Tigers, this Pack of boys from first to fifth grade, became my new family. As much as my life still felt broken by loss, I now had more family than I ever imagined. And I cannot put together the words to tell them what a difference they made in my life.
This family changed over the years. Boys got older and moved on. New Tigers joined each year. And the family grew. And grew. We were always welcomed in. Once upon a time I watched my son cling to fences at the farthest corner of a playground trying to escape the other children. Tonight I watched him high-five and hug his friends. Friends he made in this Scouting family.
We suffered more loss this past year. Two significant portions of our life went through drastic change. In the pain and frustration of adjusting to a new reality, I began to pull away from my Scout family. But they didn’t let me go far. And tonight I realized just how important they were to me. Tonight I realized how much Scouting is not just about the Scout. Together, my son and I strike out from this Pack with new strength – bolstered by the family who welcomed us in. I am forever changed by my experience in Scouting in ways and depths I never imagined. For this, I wasn’t prepared.
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