With the recent start of the school year, my 6-year-old Tom marked an important family passage: He became Scouting-aged.
Earlier this week, as we headed to the car to drive to the den meeting, Tom darted into a neighbor’s driveway, picked up his newspaper and sat it on his porch. Where did that errant act of kindness come from?
The last time we went to Tiger Cubs – the first meeting to which Tom wore his new uniform – his puffed chest and erect posture belied his pride. I quietly chuckled at the little man readymade for Scouting, but an onlooker would have laughed at my puffed chest and erect posture, mirror images of my 6-year-old son’s because of my pride in him.
Since his first Cub Scout meeting last month, all Tom has wanted to do each evening is work on his Bobcat, the first rank a Tiger Cub pursues. After putting on his pajamas, he hands me his already dog-eared Tiger Cub Handbook from his bedside table and asks to work on Scouting.
Racing home from work earlier this week, I replayed the scenes above and chuckled aloud. I was grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of the weekly den meeting that evening.
I thought for a minute about the lifelong power Scouting has over those who catch its bug. And if you’re one of the 13 readers who follow this column regularly, you know what I concluded – it all boils down to philanthropy.
Think about it. Every week, hundreds of thousands of adults give time to more than a million boys in Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings around the country. Add to that time spent on weekend overnights, bike hikes, service projects and pancake breakfasts.
Without a doubt, the activities are fun and rewarding for the boys who participate. The adults, momentarily carried back to the simpler days of their childhoods, enjoy themselves, too.
But the bond that cements adults to Scouting and keeps boys coming back for more is stronger than the fun they know awaits them. It’s the product of serving others, the desire we all have to give of ourselves to things that are greater than us with assurance our contributions are making a difference.
It’s the power of philanthropy. And in Scouting – unlike many things to which we give our time and money – confirmation that our investments are paying off is often instantaneous.
I’m already sold. I’m proud to be a second-generation Eagle Scout. I’m proud of Joe, our 13-year-old who recently attained the Life Scout rank. And I’m proud of my nephews, brother-in-law, dad and father-in-law, all of whom remain active in Scouting.
For those who are considering Scouting but haven’t yet gotten involved, go for it. If your son has been in Scouting before but had a mixed experience, pick another pack or troop and give it another whirl.
The opportunities Scouting will provide to develop character and leadership traits are rare. Along the way, he’ll have a blast and accomplish things – ultimately the Eagle Scout rank – that will guide his course for a lifetime.
If only Tom would apply the same passion to cleaning his bedroom.