May 13, 2011

Scouting Out the Man

I've posted here before about my two eldest boys being in Scouts. They are both Star Scouts, just one requirement short of one Eagle badge short of Life Scout. You must be a Life Scout for six months before you can sit for your Eagle Board of Review.

During the six months (or longer) that you wait for your Eagle Board, you have to hold a position in the Troop, finish up any Eagle Merit Badges you have yet to finish, and plan, submit, accomplish, and recap your Eagle Project.

Just a tip for you with boys that are thinking of going the Scout way... if you want your son to succeed, you have to be involved. You can't do it for him... it is something HE must earn, but you have to be involved or it won't happen. In all the years, with all the boys I've witnessed, I have only seen one make it with NO parental support.


The rest have parents that help with finances, camp outs, fundraisers, merit badge counseling, etc. Mostly, their parents are there... prodding and focusing.

It is hard to get a kid to be motivated to do much these days. It's easy for them to get caught in the fog of homework, computers, video games, after school sports, band, girls... the beach calls their names way too much if you live in FL.

And we all know the importance of achieving it and sometimes in their small world, the big picture doesn't show them the significance. Their big picture is only as big as 'will I get my license this summer?' 'what kind of car will I be able to drive?' and long term planning consists of 'I wonder if I'll ask that girl to Prom next year...'

It's not to say they don't think about college, jobs, futures... but the details can get lost.

That's where the eyes of the parents come in.

And I think the hardest part of being the parent of a Scout is understanding when to stop bitching about what needs to be done, stepping aside and seeing if they'll actually take off on their own. I'm noticing this happens... around high school. (They join Boy Scouts in 5th grade.)

I've been all over my oldest, "So, what's your plan, because this is what I'm seeing. I see you coming into your Junior year and applying for colleges in June/July/August. I see it would be a REAL feather in your cap to be able to write 'Eagle Scout' because if you don't have it by next summer, you can't put 'Almost Made Eagle Scout'. So what are your plans to achieve this?"

I never answer the question. I just leave it hanging. However, the frequency that this question gets asked... is growing. It used to be once a month... now it's about once a week. I think there is a term for it. It's called... NAGGING.

I've told him, I'll help him map out a plan, but I'm not going to help him accomplish it. That's on his own.

To date, he's shunned any real responsibility in the Troop, signing up for things like Chaplain-Aide and QuarterMaster. He was Patrol Leader once and hated it. He did it so a kid he hated wouldn't be it instead. It was an offensive move, if you will.

So imagine my surprise when he got in the car the other day and said, "I'm calling the Scout Master and telling him I want to be Senior Patrol Leader."


That's a position you must run for. It's not a position that is chosen... you run in front of your peers and they decide who their next leader is.

He may not win. I think he's fine with that, but he decided he wanted to try... and that's what blows me away.

He called the Scout Master, a man we adore, and then sat down and planned out what he and Mr. T needed to do to finish up that one last badge over this camping trip so they could have their peer review, Scout Master review, and Board of Review... to make Life.

On his own.

He came to me this afternoon to tell me of his plan. I listened and said, "My only piece of advice is that you be a pain in the neck and continually remind them what your goals are this weekend and how they bought into it. You have to communicate. Don't let them forget. They have things they're doing with the younger kids... don't let them forget YOU, because if you're all quiet and aloof... they will."

It's his gig. It's his job to get Life Scout. I can direct, I can suggest, I can nag... to a degree. But ultimately it's his. And he even told me what he wants to do for his Eagle Project. He's got it in his head...

... more on that later.

Let's see how this weekend pans out. I'm not going and my husband is visiting family out of state. Bones and I will be doing the Flash Mob tomorrow.

I may be slowly watching a boy grow up. Sometimes that's the hardest part, just watching. But it can also be... the most rewarding.

Posted by Boudicca at May 13, 2011 01:21 PM

Ok, here I am again, commenting a bit out of my league because I am not a parent. But, I do spend a great deal around kids, since I am a chauffeur for a family with two boys...age 15 & 17. And my husband has 2 kids near that age.

You say that it is hard to get kids motivated to do stuff...yet you list a sh*t load of stuff they are already doing.

I feel like parents these days are pushing kids wayyy too much. (And let me qualify that by saying it's mostly affluent parents.)

The kids I drive for have school, homework, band, music lessons, tutoring, therapy, summer school, college prep tutoring.....the list goes on and on. They often spend hours in the car just getting from one thing to another. If they're not doing homework in the car, they are sleeping in the car because they are so exhausted.

They don't ever have time to go outside and just play. One of my boys tells me he is so busy and exhausted that he forgets to brush his teeth.

Their parents are pushing pushing pushing....must get into college, must be a French Horn virtuoso...whatever. It never stops for them.

When I was growing up, kids often took a year off to decide if they even wanted to go to college. Now, kids are on an endless hamster wheel.

So, yes...I may not be qualified to comment on this subject. But that is what I see. It feels like kids don't have time to breathe and figure out who they are growing to be....who they want to be.

And I mean no offense with this comment. I'm just sayin'.

(And again, please forgive that this is a mile long comment.)

Posted by: DogsDontPurr at May 13, 2011 11:10 PM

DDP- You're right... it's insane. But things have changed since we were kids too. I lament this a lot. It used to be you took classes, average or advanced (no AP), and you made the grades, took the SAT after 6 hours of sleep because the night before you went to a football game and stayed out too late and you didn't care about breakfast let alone having a tutor for it, and then you mailed away for a catalogue for the university you wanted to attend, laid them all out and chose it based on where your friends went to school or how the buildings look and 'oh btw, that guy in the picture is cute... I'll go there."

Now it's SAT scores and prep, grades on a 5.0 scale, did you take enough AP classes?, 3 years of a language (don't even think of taking 2), letter in a sport and don't forget the art and there better be above and beyond in community service.

And that's just to get into a regular school now. That's not to get into an Ivey. To get into Univ of FL, you have to have all that plus some. I knew a kid who got into UF deferred with a 3.8, but was saved by his 1400 SAT score... but was told he was deferred a semester because... he didn't have an Art. But he was on the baseball team...

It's that competitive and awful.

Overall, my kids aren't so busy. *I* am the one that is busy since I drive them all over. Bones only sings once a week after school. Other than that, when he comes home, he plays outside with his brother, throwing the football or basketball, and does homework.

Mr. T played flag football in the Fall and it nearly killed us. He said he'll never do another sport... they are time sponges and he felt like he had no time for him. He has Scouts on Thursdays and band on Wednesday and Thursday after school. That's it... nothing else.

Ringo has Jazz band after school twice a week and has various performances because of it. He's also in Scouts.

And that's it. My kids aren't lettering in a Sport which will probably keep them out of a good college. I'm trying to talk Mr. T into wrestling, but he said he doesn't want to give up that much of his free time... my kids have a lot of time and he doesn't want to give it up for a Sport. He'd rather go play outside with Bones.

And I'm cool with that.

But yeah, it's insane. It's this crazy world we've created to succeed. I hate it. I absolutely hate it...

Posted by: Bou at May 13, 2011 11:32 PM

Good grief. . . I'm getting a headache just reading what the children DDP's driving around do. And Bou's too for that matter. I pretty much worked during high school after I was old enough. Jr. and Senior year I was on Student Council, and that's it.

Posted by: Andrew Phule at May 14, 2011 07:52 AM

I think the kid who did the whole Eagle Scout thing without parental support is going to go far! Wow.

As for your boys and their activities - I've never thought that individually their extra curriculars have been over the top timewise for them. It's the "single kid schedule" times 3 - thus way over the top for you trying to get everyone where they need to be when they need to be there. Even with 2 kids there are schedule conflicts that involve juggling, with the 3rd kid you end up with a bonus schedule to juggle in the mix. heh.

It's very hard not to stress over the college thing. You have terrific kids and I know things will shake out well for them even with the usual ups and downs of life. The biggest problem is getting them into in state schools that are more affordable. Out of state schools are always delighted to take your kid - plus the extra money. As are private schools. *sigh*

Posted by: Teresa at May 14, 2011 09:50 AM

The kid who did the whole Eagle Scout thing alone is... incredible. I sat on his Troop Eagle Board of Review before he went to Council. Someone on the review board with me asked who he would credit with helping him and he said, "No one. I did this alone..." And I just sat there. A parent who didn't know the situation said, "No one?" and he said, "No. Not one person. I did this alone. No one drove me or attended anything. I did it all..." Another parent who DID know the situation basically gave us a quiet shake of the head to tell us to leave it alone. Turns out the kids parents were divorced. His older bro who never made Eagle would drive him to everything he was going to, but once he had his own license he was on his own. His Mom is clueless and was newly married. His Dad is just clueless and self absorbed. His step dad, who I've since gotten to know... doesn't help at all. He has his own life. So this kid seriously did it all alone.

Needless to say, he's away at school and doesn't come home much.

Great kid.

I realize that the fact my kids don't have 'a sport' is really going to hinder them. I wonder often if I should regret the fact we haven't pushed sports more in this household instead of music. They play outside on their own. If you ask my boys, they say no way. Sports is every day practice, games all the time. Lots of travel. That's a BIG commitment for families and I give major major stars to parents who do the Sports.

Music is lessons once a week, performances every now and then, practice twice a week, a class during school. It's not the same.

To get into UF now, as Teresa said, in state schools are tough, except for the kid I know that got in with the 3.8 because of his 1400 SAT scores, you have to carry above a 4.0 and you need to have above a 1300 on your SATs. Even then, if you're missing something on your resume, you can get turned down.

FSU is getting pretty competitive too. And they're BIG schools so it's that competitive to get into a school where you're going to have 800 kids in your Biology class...

Posted by: Bou at May 14, 2011 12:36 PM

Don't forget to mention what the words "Eagle Scout" will look like on college applications and resumes.

That is huge!

Posted by: Quality Weenie at May 15, 2011 07:45 AM