Happy New Scouting Year! Thursday was the first day of scouting of the year for our unit. The most recent former Weblos from the pack of our charter sponsor became Boy Scouts last night, almost all of them coming in at the rank of Scout (because of the Arrow of Light award). The PLC met a couple of weeks ago to put the finishing touch on these first few meetings. Belt buckles were shined, shirts irons, knots knotted and loops loopy. We were ready.
I continue to stand in amazement of the fact that ten years ago, I didn't know what any of that meant.
Last weekend was the council kickoff of the new year. Because the men of
the troop went down to this event, this left to me the task of signing
up new and prospective scouts at the parish's activities sign up fair.
So there I was, in a troop shirt with the words SERVICE CORPS in 200
point font on my back, telling kids and parents about scouting and
answering their questions and recruiting. (I wore the shirt with the
garish letters, by the way, because a Class A uniform, for me, is out of
the question.That thing on me raises frumpiness to new heights). I am
sometimes surprised by the ease by which I'm able to talk about
scouting. It wasn't me, after all, who grew up in the program. Sure I'm a
lifelong Girl Scout, so I'm sold on the concept of scouting, but
organizationally, the two groups are very different. I surprise myself
at how much I've learned over the years....by asking questions or just
listening attentively to hours and hours of conversation. When I say
things like "I'll have to check with our D.E. about that" or that I've become the
official scouting interpreter for our non-scouting friends (sometimes,
when you've been inside the bubble for so long, you forget that not
everyone is familiar with the concept of National Camping School. You
also forget that not everyone has enough makings for a Scouting themed
room scattered throughout their houses, but I digress.) it's like I can hardly remember when this wasn't a part of my everyday life.
Last summer, my sister mentioned that one of her colleague's sons was
going to scout camp that summer and wondered if it was the same one that
our troop attends. Without blinking an eye, I responded, "Well they
live in Nassau, right? That means they're in the Theodore Roosevelt
Council, so their summer camp would be Onteora, actually."
Did that just come out of my mouth?
I realized some things in that moment. I could no longer claim to be an
outsider. I could no longer just be Scouter's fiancée, at the time. You know, the
sweet girl that helps hang signs or takes tickets at a fundraiser but whose involvement stops there. I was
a part of this program, a scouter in my own right. The role of
"scouter's spouse" is generally thought to be someone who gives outside
support to their husband or wife's scouting career, without being an
active registered member themselves. I've always thought of myself as a
Scouter's girlfriend/fiancée/wife, but it was undeniable. I was on the
troop charter, literally a card-carrying member of the BSA. I've helped
lead the troop on hikes. I've gone camping with the boys. I've assisted
in running fundraisers. Super (like my husband) Scouter I am certainly
not. But I'm in this. So far over my head I'm practicing Safe Swim
Defense over here.
At the end of the day though, I still consider my primary role in
scouting to be that of Scouter's Wife rather than Committee Member. (By
the way, does it irk anyone else that on the registration form, the code
is "MC" instead of "CM"? Never mind.) I support scouting - with my
time, effort, and money - but at the heart of that, it's my husband and
his love of scouting that I support. It's because of my love for him
that I've learned about the program, that I've tried to give back to it,
that I volunteer my own time. I've always considered myself lucky that
the man I married spends his spare time giving back to the program that
gave him so much; that if he's out "with the boys" late on any given
night, it's usually because of a troop or lodge meeting; that the Scout
Law isn't just something that looked good on a college application, it's
how he lives his life. For that reason I do what I do for Scouting.
It's why I even own my own Class A uniform, why I willingly slept in an A-Frame tent for two months one summer, and why I even consulted various
BSA calendars when choosing our wedding date.
But they don't have a registration code for that.