As I hauled benches out from under the amphitheater stage at 10:00pm in the middle of the woods the night before, I only had one thought,
“Ready or not, here it comes.”
Quite a bit has been going on here in the house of Scouter’s Wife. It’s been nearly a year since I learned this new Order of the Arrow lodge was happening and that my husband, fresh from the Retired Lodge Adviser’s Club, was to once again be at the helm. I started to begin the process of bracing myself. I said good-bye to weekends and hello to the countless voices on the other end of the phone competing for my husband’s attention. As a seasoned Lodge Adviser's Girlfriend/Fiancée, I knew what I was in for, but this go around, it would be times five. We’re not the first to merge, but this wouldn't be like any other OA amalgamation. We’re truly pioneers in newly Chartered territories.
You know what the most difficult part of this whole process has been from my wife-perspective? Not the scouts - the boys are phenomenal. They've been level-headed, considerate, and thoughtful. The biggest issue has been adults – scouters who can’t get past the past and embrace changes that are necessary for scouting to continue on for many generations to come. I get that it’s an emotional time. I understand that we’re talking about a century of history and memories and tradition. No one expected it to be an easy process but I know I certainly did not expect to witness so much selfishness and stubbornness. The past must be honored and preserved, but what good does it do when there is no one to pass that history on to? We’re at a crossroads right now in Scouting – a crossroads that requires boldness.
I've had a lot of people tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Well here’s what I do know:
"The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society."
"The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
- Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
- Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
- Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
- Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."
Sadly, many of these adults have so far proven themselves less than capable and anything but positive, willing, and cheerful.
My message to those adults: be willing to spend yourself serving others or get out of the way of those who are.
My prevailing hope in all of this has been the many leaders who have been kind and generous and optimistic and ready to roll up their sleeves and help my husband and our new lodge officers do something really special that will influence the youth of our nation for another hundred years to come. The spark is there.
The first ever gathering of the brand new lodge was a day we can all be proud of. After a late night of setting up, we drove into camp the next morning with hearts beating just a little faster at the prospect of this untested social experiment that was about to go down. Every lodge has its own cast of characters and this was going to be five casts of characters all attempting, for the first time, to play nice and work together in one room. It happened that Arrowmen reunited with brothers they haven’t seen in years and the boys crossed borough lines to play basketball and wall climb and navigate low COPE games. There were issues that realistically will take years to work out – the lingering “us and them” attitudes, the complexities of working through a chapter system, accepting that there are many functions yet one lodge. Yet at the end of the day when hundreds of Arrowmen joined hands to sing “Firm Bound In Brotherhood,” I could see it from behind a camera lens:
the gladness of a dawning, of a springtime, of beginning.