Mom, now that your boy is about eleven or twelve you’ll soon start noticing lots of changes in him. You’ve probably noticed that he’s getting a bit taller. And there are other changes too. He is going to start wanting to get out on his own and learning who he really is. You don’t have to cut the apron strings yet – but don’t hold on too tightly either.
Remember how you wanted your little boy to become a man? Well, now he’s now getting closer to that magic moment. You’ll hate to see him go on that first hike but let him do it. He’ll survive (well, … and if he doesn’t survive, there isn’t much you could do about it anyway). Sounds rather encouraging, huh? I can assure you that he’s in for a great experience—and so are you for that matter.
If you’re like most moms, you’ll probably want to pack his bags and send everything he owns with him. You’ll want to make sure that he has all the essentials of life. But, do you know what, Mom? It’s not your job to pack his bags! It will be a big temptation to do it all yourself, but just sit back in a chair and relax.
If your little man is old enough to be out on a hike, he’s old enough to pack his bags. If he’s never done it before, then it’s high time he learned. If he needs to know where something is, he knows where to find you.
So what if … he forgets something?! Let him forget it! If he forgets something he needs, he’ll probably only do it once. (If he forgets the sleeping bag, you can bet he’ll remember it next time after a cold night on this trip). Remember that unless he’s going out in the ice and snow or otherwise extremely adverse conditions, you don’t need to worry about him. He’ll be okay. He’s tough. He can handle it!
Additionally, if Johnnie takes too much stuff he’ll soon learn to cut down. There is a list, by the way, in the Scout Handbook and it details the recommended equipment for a hike. Even that list, however, has ten times more things listed than is really necessary to take. It does give Johnnie a starting point, however, and after a couple of hikes (and taking too much or too little) Johnnie will know exactly what he does need for his personal comfort and happiness on subsequent excursions.
As Johnnie is ready to go out the door, go ahead and do all the things that mothers must do. He won’t listen, but give him that last bit of motherly advice and a kiss on the cheek—if you really have to. Don’t try to hold him back though. Go ahead! Give him a little kick to get him out the door and on his way.
Remember that Scouting is an adventure and that’s exactly what Johnnie likes about it. That’s why he joined! He’s out for adventure, and good or bad, he’ll be better for having experienced it. Be assured that Johnnie’s hike will generally happen under very controlled circumstances. The Scoutmaster has real strict safety procedures which he’s to follow for a safe experience. He’ll take care of your little man.
I’d like to get a bit personal now, Mom, as I share some of my own experiences from my youth. I learned to appreciate the attitude of my own mother when it came to hikes and adventuresome activities. She wanted my brothers and me to experience the fun and adventure of life. She was always “MOTHER” but she didn’t spend her whole time worrying needlessly while we were gone (or at least she didn’t let on if she did).
I’ll never forget one time, for instance, that Dad and I and my four brothers all headed north to Utah to go deer hunting. The weather predictions for the weekend were terrible but we went anyway.
At the time we had a neighbor lady who had nothing at all to do but worry about what my family was doing (And I guess we must have given her plenty of excitement). Anyway, after we’d been gone for only a short while, the neighbor lady started coming over to our home every little while. With each visit, she informed Mom of the latest reports of blizzards, and other equally delightful news.
Finally my mother said, “Mrs. Lejeck, if they didn’t think they’d be snowed in, or SOMETHING LIKE THAT, they would not have gone at all!”
I have always appreciated Mom for that special supportive attitude. I’m pleased too, that that same attitude was hers when it came to Scouting activities. She knew it was a great adventure and she wanted us to have fun (while being safe and doing the right thing). She encouraged us to go on hikes and to participate in all other Scouting activities.
Looking back, I now realize that Mom was also pretty smart as we came home from our hikes. Invariably, I arrived home from each hike tired, dirty, and HUNGRY! It seems, too, that I couldn’t say enough bad about the hike or campout. Mom soon learned (by sad experience) to not even let me talk or say one word about the experience as I first arrived home. She learned to usher me right into the bathroom for a refreshing shower. Then she worked to have a snack waiting for me as I got out.
Only then would she let me talk about the hike. Now, with a new outlook on life, I couldn’t say enough good about all the fun I’d had on the trip. Her action saved us both a lot of grief.
And now Mom, back to your own boy … There are a few other things that you can do to support your Scouting son. First, you can help out on the committee with some of the troop logistics. I’ve already mentioned that the more involved you are, the more fun you (and your husband and family) will have with your boy in Scouting. Being involved with your son’s troop can be one of the really neat mother-son activities of your life.
As Johnnie progresses to Boy Scouting and beyond, you can serve actively on the committee or you might just wish to be available to help as needed. You can make refreshments for the gang once in a while, help with transportation, organize sales for the annual Scout-O-Rama or make goodies for the annual bake sale.
In my mind’s eye I can still see my own dear mother working behind the scenes to help me be successful. She was always there serving or cooking at the pancake breakfasts, driving me around to collect baked goods and even helping at our car washes. She was always willing to do her part and then some.
I will also be forever grateful to Mother for her gentle urging and support in my advancement. She never nagged or pushed me but she was there to encourage my progress.
Again Mom, you can create the atmosphere for your son to grow and progress through Scouting. Remember not to be too pushy with your son’s advancement or you’ll turn him off, thinking it is something he HAS TO DO. Scouting is supposed to be fun and if he wants to do it, he’ll be a self starter and he’ll do it. And he’ll have some great times in the process. Sit back and enjoy the experience with him.
Keep a positive mental picture of that grand day when Johnnie will finally complete everything to be an Eagle Scout. Just think how proud you’ll be of him then. That’s when all your efforts will pay off. At that moment he’ll even be proud to have you around. He’ll proudly escort you to the stand as his Eagle citation is read. He’ll be proud to share the spotlight with you. You will have both earned it.
Everyone knows how hard you will have worked for that Eagle badge (In fact, you’d probably deserve the badge yourself!). It may be then that Johnnie will realize the great impact you’ve had on his Scouting career (but the realization may also be delayed a few years). His Eagle Court of Honor will be a tender moment for him.
Your boy will want to thank you, but remember that boys that age aren’t too good at that kind of stuff. If you’re lucky you might get a quick peck on the cheek or maybe even a hug. Please know of his true appreciation of you at that moment—even if he is afraid to show his true feelings in front of all of his Scouting buddies.
From that big moment you can proudly wear the miniature Eagle pin on your dress or lapel. Just as your boy has suddenly grown into a man (and seemingly all at once), you too, will be in a different class as an Eagle Scout Mom. You’ll wear the pin proudly. You’ve both earned it! And so Mom … thanks for ALL of your help!
I might here add that my own mother still on occasion wears that miniature badge I gave to her when I got my Eagle award. That pin is not alone, however. Mom proudly displays five of those little badges—one for me and each of my brothers. Just wearing those five pins (in flight formation) says more about Mother than could a whole book about her.
Don’t get in a hurry to end your Scouting involvement with your boy after he gets that Eagle badge, however. There’s still one big thing you can do to cement his love for you forever.
Collect all those little patches you’ve sewn on his uniform over the years. Get all those patches together and put them in a big fancy frame for him. This would make a great birthday or Christmas present as he gets a bit older. He may not even appreciate such a gift right now so you might want to save it until around his twenty third birthday.
I still have the framed awards collection which Mom made for me. And to this day, my awards are displayed proudly on my bedroom wall. The awards are mounted on a bright red background and the large wood frame adds the final touch of class. My wife may wonder about the color of the background when it doesn’t match her decor but I still think it’s wonderful. It continues to bring back a lot of memories.
I look with pride at the old Cub Scout “Lion” award on the Cub Scout plaque. It’s classier now than when I received it since the Lion award does not even exist nowadays (but may again soon). I guess that dates me a little but that shows you how long that frame has been a part of my wall. It is neat to recall the special experiences of those wonderful Scouting days of my youth and the plaques are a constant reminder of Mom’s support and assistance.
I realize more now than when a teenager how much I really owe to my Mother. She had a great part in the positive Scouting experience I had. After I could see in true perspective what she’d done for me, I wrote a long overdue tribute to her. The poem “The Boy Scout’s Mother” is a fitting tribute to all of you Scouting moms. And thanks again, Mom, … And thanks to all of you Scouting moms! We love you!
THE BOY SCOUT’S MOTHER – By Kevin Hunt
A woman who deserves some extra praise,
would be the Boy Scout’s mother.
A challenge as her Scout she’ll raise,
living Scout Law as if no bother.
She’s trustworthy, he notes with joy;
reliable and faithful all the way.
She knows he’ll do it; he’s her boy,
and she’ll encourage him every day.
She’s loyal, though more she’d rather do,
Brave: Den Leader so a Cub he’ll be.
A supporter on badges not a few,
a sub for his paper route you see.
Helpful, nothing is too much for her,
for camping trips she’ll help him pack.
With tons of food and prepared for sure,
she’ll clean the pots when he gets back.
She’s friendly to her Scout and friends,
she makes them cookies – double batches.
Happily each Court of Honor she attends,
cheerfully sewing on his patches.
She’s courteous as in the car she’ll sit,
while a merit badge her Scout will earn.
And if he won’t work, she’ll throw a fit,
but make doughnuts to help him learn.
She’s obedient when calls for help are made,
helping at car washes, bake sales too.
All this to insure his way be paid,
She’s thrifty, saving to see him through.
For his safety always Mom will pray,
that God will watch her little man.
She won’t sleep at all while he’s away,
and for his return she’ll always plan.
To be a Boy Scout’s Mother’s rough,
but when he’s an Eagle she will bawl,
As he quickly, kisses her, though tough;
his “Thanks, Mom” is worth her all.
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