I can honestly say that as a Scout mom, my own mother was about as perfect as one could get. She was always there for me. She supported me and my Scout brothers in every way possible. I owe much to her for her strength and love when I was a Scout and continuing through these many years.
And from my own mother, I have taken note and would now like to share many of her philosophies, attitudes, and attributes with all Scout moms everywhere. I’ve added some of my own editorializing that I’ve learned as I have observed other Scouting moms. And if you’ll do these things, it is possible for every Scout Mom to really be a “Super Scout Mom” as mine was.
So, ready mom? Here goes:
Mom, can you remember that day when your little man was born?
You probably thought then of the grown man that he’d someday become. Do you remember that first time you saw him dressed in his brand new Cub Scout Uniform? Like him, you were probably bursting your buttons with pride. Your pride in him is understandable.
The day that your son joined Scouting, your little man made a big step for character development, growth, and independence. He’s growing up fast, Mom. I know it’s hard for you to let him go, but he can’t be little forever (though sometimes we wish they could). Becoming a Scout is a major milestone in your son’s life.
Do you remember that first Cub pack meeting and all the other fun times you’ve shared with him through the years? What about that time he dropped that badge down your dress while trying to pin it on you? That was embarrassing for everyone—except Dad, who thought it was quite funny.
Well, now suddenly your boy is a Scout! You’re probably wondering how you can let him go on that first overnight hike without you. That first outing will be a big shock for you and him both.
Remember how you helped your son as he started in the Cub Scout program? He was assigned to a Cub Scout den that met at the home of the den leader. You helped him remember the meeting day. He worked on crafts and lots of fun activities with the den and often he brought the project home to finish. You cleaned his uniform and reminded him to wear it (though he usually didn’t need to be reminded).
Occasionally you helped provide transportation, assisted at a den meeting or provided refreshments (which he thought was the best part of the whole meeting). The whole family had fun together at the pack meetings. There was always a lot of fun and excitement for everyone with the crazy songs and skits, recognition ceremonies, games and fun.
Your son still needs you and the family as he now becomes a Boy Scout. Your boy will still want you there as he receives his advancement badges. He’ll need lots of help and encouragement at home. And there will be plenty of troop projects for you to help with.
You and Dad have a big role in your son’s advancement progress. Some things will be done on hikes and at troop meetings but your son will need to take a lot of initiative at home also. The Scoutmaster and the patrol leaders aren’t like the den leader in Cub Scouts. They won’t do everything for him. Not even all troop meetings will be advancement oriented!
He won’t want you to prod him to do his advancement requirements (he’s kind of outgrown that) but you and Dad can help him set goals for his personal achievement and you can encourage him to accomplish them. Advancement can still be a family affair. Mom, Dad, older brothers and even sisters can all help Johnnie. The more involved you are, the more fun you can all have together.
Give Johnnie a bit of freedom (and help when asked) and you’ll be surprised at how much he can accomplish. And who knows, he may even surprise you with a quick kiss as he gets that next badge (but don’t expect a big show of affection at this age!).
Even now, after your son receives his badges at the Court of Honor he’ll be anxious for you to sew the patches on his uniform. I’ll admit that sewing patches on is not the most exciting activity around. I have never liked to do it either. But, if you sew the patches on in a timely manner, Johnnie will love and adore you forever. Your prompt sewing of the patches as they are earned will inspire Johnnie to work even harder for that next badge.
Speaking of uniforms, your son will still want (and need) a complete Scout uniform the minute he joins the Scouting program (and maybe two or three of them the way he’s growing now). Uniforms make good gifts for birthdays and Christmas and they’re available from a Scout store near you. If you don’t know where to get one, call the Boy Scouts of America as listed in your phone directory white pages.
Often too, you can get used or “experienced” uniforms from a thrift shop, but you have to go in there looking for one every few days. They go fast! Sometimes the troop will have a uniform bank where a used one might be available. One way or other, you can really encourage your son to progress if you’ll keep him in a uniform.
Mom, a uniform says that a boy belongs. It helps him feel a part of the group. The uniform is where the boy displays his activity patches and recognition for his achievements. Like his other clothes, the uniform will often be found on the bedroom floor but it’s still something of which he’s very proud.
Many mothers have a philosophy of uniforms that differs greatly from their actual envisioned usage. You probably think that the uniform is to always remain shining, clean and beautiful – and that it is to be “reserved” only for those real special occasions.
As your son gets into that sparkling new clean uniform, enjoy it for a few minutes. Take his picture to remember that it was once in that condition (A picture can make you think later that he always looked that sharp. And years later you and he can see the picture and can once again remember the sparkle and pizzazz of his illustrious Scouting career).
Actually, Mom, the uniform has been designed for rugged outdoor use. It is a FIELD UNIFORM to be worn and worn and worn. Don’t project the image that the uniform is reserved just for those special “showcase” type experiences. Let him wear a Sunday suit (if he has to) for occasions like that.
You may not believe it, but the uniform was designed for loud active play at troop meetings, hikes, and outdoor activities. It’s designed to be lived in—not just hung nicely in your closet.
“Now wait a minute,” you say. “That uniform is expensive!” I agree. A uniform is expensive. But then, it’s not much higher in cost than most of the other clothes that he wears—and particularly not much higher than a football or baseball uniform that he’ll only use for a few games. You probably wouldn’t think twice about buying those uniforms!
Boys of Scout age grow fast, as I’m sure you know. Consequently, he probably won’t be able to wear out the uniform before he outgrows it. But think of the end result that it’s helping achieve in your little man—the character development, the physical and mental fitness and the citizenship training he’s getting. Think of the fun he’s having and, think too, of the impact of Scouting’s ideals upon him. Isn’t a uniform a small investment for that kind of an influence on Johnnie?
When I see a sparkling clean uniform on a boy that’s been in the program more than a couple of months I wonder what is wrong with him. A uniform like that is a sign that he’s spent too much time with Mom (no offense!). I know, too, that he’s likely missed some of the real fun and adventure of Scouting. To me, a uniform is not a true uniform unless it has a hole or two in the knee, a butter stain or a splotch of paint on the leg.
A boy is only a boy once. He’ll never again be able to enjoy getting dirty like he can now and he will never again be able to have so much fun doing it. So, relax, Mom! Let him enjoy it! I know it’ll be a challenge for you—it’s your nature to be clean—but just grit your teeth and know that the uniform was made to be worn for all kinds of Scouting activities.
As I look at my uniforms, even now as a leader, I have fond memories of them. I see the small black streak and remember the Dutch oven cooking. I see the butter stain and think of those great meals over the campfire and learning how to cook them. I see the little hole in the knee and remember my sliding fall—and really graceful, I might add—as I played “Capture the Flag” with my guys.
I can also still see the little white specks of paint and remember back to the time that I had to lead the camp staff in the not so fun duty of KYBO duty (KYBO is short for “Keep Your Bowels Open” and refers to camp latrines, in case you are wondering). We were cleaning and “honey dipping” all the two-holers in camp. The paint dots came as we repainted the old KYBO seats. I don’t try to remember how gross it was—just the fun we had as together we got into it and did it.
And of course, no uniform pants are complete without a split up the crotch and back. I must admit that I’ve done that a time or two in my uniform pants.
And do you know what, Mom? In spite of the little quirks described above, I still wear the uniform proudly—even to the showcase activities like a Courts of Honor and Scout-O-Rama. Washed and pressed, the experienced uniform still looks classy. And if its any relief, it seems that everyone is always caught up in the “excitement of the moment” at those showcase activities—such that the focus isn’t on whether or not your boy has a small butter stain on his pant leg.
Well, have I convinced you? I hope this little discussion has helped you see the uniform in a new light. And thanks, Mom! I knew you’d understand.
More to come … stay tuned for part 2!
Thanks for listening, Scouting moms … now go out there and really be Scout Super Moms! Watch out boys, here she comes!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpt taken from his “Scouting Trails” Book: “GNUBIE TO EAGLE SCOUT“ at Scouting Trails. Connect with Kevin and read his article: “A Hundred Years of Scouting and What it Has Made Me” in The Boy Scout
© Kevin V. Hunt 2016