My moth­er was a Scouter mom. I am not sure that she set out to be one, but, with four sons and a hus­band in the pro­gram, it was prob­a­bly inevitable. Always want­i­ng daugh­ters and end­ing up with four boys, she poured her ener­gy into mak­ing us good boys. Scout­ing was an impor­tant part of that, and she was proud of her four sons’ Scout­ing accomplishments–and dad’s too.

Charm Braclet on Fluer de leis scarf
This bracelet records two gen­er­a­tions of Scout­ing cov­er­ing more than 35 years.

As time went on, she want­ed a way to show off those accom­plish­ments, so dad com­mis­sioned a charm bracelet made to hold the mother’s minia­tures for each of our awards. (I’ll bet if they made minia­tures of the mer­it badges, she would have worn them too.) This bracelet records two gen­er­a­tions of Scout­ing cov­er­ing more than half a cen­tu­ry.

When mom start­ed dat­ing dad, I don’t know if she knew she was dat­ing an Eagle Scout, but he loved Scout­ing and gave her a love too.  If you take a clos­er look at the bracelet, Dad’s were the first minia­tures attached (on the left), Ten­der­foot to Eagle. In her own fam­i­ly, there were two boys, so she may have seen some Scout­ing but noth­ing like what she was about to embark on.

IMG_1803Right after get­ting mar­ried, mom and dad moved from Salt Lake to Bal­ti­more, where dad became an assis­tant Scout­mas­ter. There nev­er was a time after he joined Boy Scout­ing in 1927 that he was not involved. He put effort in the pro­gram until he died 75 years lat­er. His inter­est made us a Scout­ing fam­i­ly, but mom made it more so.  A lot of our his­to­ry is shown as each of us suc­ces­sive­ly added ours awards to mom’s charm bracelet.

My old­est broth­er Gary was a Life Scout (he was not a strong enough swim­mer to get Life­sav­ing Mer­it Badge, so he was not an Eagle), but my old­er broth­er was an Eagle and my troop’s Junior Assis­tant Scout­mas­ter. I earned my Eagle, and my youngest broth­er fol­lowed along soon after.

Mom was proud of us Scouters near­ly as much as she was when we were boys.  Right in the mid­dle of all the charms, you find my old­er brother’s Sil­ver Beaver.

But lets go back to look at how my mom becomes a Scout mom. When I was old enough to be a Cub Scout, she was my den moth­er. We did such fun stuff as a den. I loved her help with pup­pets and cos­tumes at pack meet­ings. The crafts she had for us were unend­ing. It was a very fun time for me and the neigh­bor­hood boys.

When, I turned eleven and became a Boy Scout, it meant she would not be so direct­ly involved. Still, she found a way.  For exam­ple, as the third son, I ben­e­fit­ed from a mom who knew what should be in a back­pack; she had helped my old­er broth­ers get ready for camp many times.

Those first cam­pouts were so excit­ing for me, but mom knew her stuff by then and asked: “Have you gone down the pack­ing list in your Scout Hand­book?” So, I would dou­ble check and put in a few more things. When I didn’t under­stand what things were like a pon­cho, she would help me find one and explain how to use it.

Then, when I came back home, she’d sit with me until I told her every detail about the camp’s food, the camp­fire pro­gram and inter­pa­trol games. Her inter­est in my Scout­ing was con­stant, and I sup­pose it had been for my old­er broth­ers too. When my younger broth­er start­ed Scout­ing, she began again. Indeed, she was a Scouter mom but not just the usu­al kind.

When­ev­er and wher­ev­er we went to sum­mer camp, mom and dad, who were on the troop and dis­trict com­mit­tees, would show up with cook­ies for the entire troop of 40 Scouts. It was an excuse to check on us.

On fam­i­ly camp­ing trips, she would walk with me and teach me about the trees and plants. She espe­cial­ly loved wild­flow­ers in bloom, which helped with the Nature and Botany Mer­it Badges I earned.

Her inter­est in the badges I worked on was sur­pris­ing. She would make sure I got each require­ment down pat, then she would scoot me out the door to see the Mer­it Badge coun­selor. This is actu­al­ly how she earned those mother’s minia­tures. 

Guy, Darryl and Afton Alder at Darryl's Eagle presentation
Guy, Dar­ryl and Afton Alder at Darryl’s Eagle pre­sen­ta­tion

I was timid about mak­ing appoint­ments with Mer­it Badge coun­selors, but she would not let up until I called for an appoint­ment. Then she would take time to review what I knew until I was con­fi­dent for the vis­it with the coun­selor.

Darryl in Indian CostumeThen after earn­ing my Eagle, I got very involved in the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s camper hon­or soci­ety. If you real­ly study the pic­ture close­ly, you will see a tiny tri­an­gle rep­re­sent­ing my Vig­il Hon­or right next to my Eagle, which was my supreme youth accom­plish­ment.

This was an amaz­ing era in my Scout­ing life. I loved every­thing about the Order of the Arrow.  I real­ly want­ed a cos­tume and head­dress, so for my 15th birth­day she sewed this elk hide to fit me and gave me the kit to make the head­dress. It was a major under­tak­ing, but over the sum­mer togeth­er we got it done, not with­out many bro­ken sewing machine nee­dles. 

Of all the broth­ers, I was the one that could not let go of Scout­ing and the Order of the Arrow. Both led me to join­ing a camp staff at six­teen. Now, a new age of Scout­ing came to our home; my younger broth­er soon joined camp staff with me.

This was such a huge com­mit­ment: I would need a duf­fel, sec­ond uni­form, real back­pack plus so much more. Once at camp, though,  true to their form, mom and dad came to vis­it.

There were dozens of cook­ies for the entire camp staff, and all were hap­py. Me though?  I was home­sick that first sum­mer on staff.  I want­ed to go home with them, but mom would have noth­ing of it. She said, “You made a com­mit­ment to Scout­ing, and you’re going to keep it.”

Then, she sat and lis­tened to my com­plaints about the long walk to meals and my inabil­i­ty to get my clothes clean. While we talked, she did some­thing I had no idea she could do. She heat­ed a tub of water, took a scrub board and pro­ceed­ed to show me how to clean my clothes in the wilder­ness. I learned a new skill from my Scouter mom, but I actu­al­ly learned more about the ther­a­peu­tic val­ue of get­ting busy when you are home­sick. I can­not tell you how many times I have used that trick on oth­er Scouts.

A fun­ny thing about the wash that day was that she did not like the result. The fol­low­ing week, in the mail, I Scout momreceived a large bot­tle of Downy with instruc­tions on how to use it.

Of course, the supreme moment of her sup­port, was when I won schol­ar­ship to BYU to study Scout­ing. She was so proud, even though she had hoped that I would use my Army med­ical train­ing to become a Doc­tor. Still three years lat­er, I was run­ning camp, and she and dad made their annu­al pil­grim­age to see how I was doing. When BYU named me alum­nus of the year just a decade lat­er, there was no ques­tion in her mind I had made the right deci­sion. 

She remained sup­port­ive of us and her grand­chil­dren in Scout­ing to the end. Thanks mom!

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a full time professional Scouter for Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America, serving as Director of Strategic Initiatives. But his pride in Scouting is his service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative and Commissioner.

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