Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back to Troop

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 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.

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