I have been blessed with the most loving family a man could ever hope for. My wife is simply amazing and every kidlet that she let me help raise has filled my life with one glorious memory after another. If you have read a lot of my stuff then you are probably aware that I measure everything that I do in this life against my three reasons for living… to Guide, Protect, and Provide for my family.
I have had a question in my head for years based on how I could best help Guide my children beyond just what I teach them. I am a pretty smart guy and dedicate a lot of time to this goal of Guidance but I don’t know everything, regardless of what I have told my wife and children over the years.
As a home schooling father, I have set some guidelines that require a certain number of annual volunteer hours from all my kidlets that are 12 years of age or older. I also require that they learn a sport or be working towards a physical or mental goal in any outside-the-home activity.
Today I would like to discuss the extra-curricular activity I currently shove down their throats. I have never much cared what it was and we have had kids in dance, musical theater, air cadets, soccer, and hockey to name a few. Six of my children have been registered members of Scouts Canada at some point over the past decade but this year is a little different than any of the previous years, or any of the future years in my life.
Here are some pics for 2010…
Why is 2018-19 a special year?
I knew that it was going to be different last year but it wasn’t until I was having a conversation online with a couple scouters with vastly more experience than myself that I realized how unique my new situation actually was. For the past several years I had five youth in scouting but I have never had a youth in every section at the same time.
The 2018-2019 scouting year is the only year that my family will have a beaver, cub, scout, venturer, and rover. It has never happened before in my house and after August 31, 2019 it will never happen again when my little princess moves up to cubs. I knew that it wasn’t common… even rare… but how rare I had no idea. I actually still don’t. But when got caught up in the conversation online and we got to talking about what was required. First off, you have to have at least five children and how often does that happen nowadays? Then those five children have to be pretty perfectly separated by 3-4 years each. Now if both of those requirements have been met you have only one more magical element to find yourself in this predicament… all five have to want to be in scouts, and I use ‘want’ very loosely.
Here are some pics from 2011, 2012, and 2013 scouting years…
The line between adult and youth
That last one might not seem like such a big stretch but let me tell you at the beginning of this year I wasn’t sure if my 19 year old was going to stay in rovers. He had moved out of the house. He had a full time job. He had a girlfriend. Life was changing fast for him. I had a kid at his age so I wasn’t holding my breath for him to stick with scouting. We sat down to talk about scouts one day and I just hoped he wasn’t going to drop a bomb that he was quitting. I knew that he had so much more to learn, enjoy, and teach… but did he?
Alas, he sat me down and told me he had three goals in scouting as a rover:
- Do at least a couple events as an OOS (Offer Of Service)
- Do at least one cool activity as a rover… like a mountain hike or something
- And number three, was he wanted to be a section scouter in beavers or cubs with his youngest sister or brother.
If I could be a prouder father, I don’t know how.
Here are some pics from 2014…
Keeping busy with the babies
If Cydnee sticks with scouts to her 18th birthday that means I have another nine years in scouting with a youth in the program. I am half-way done and I believe that I promised my wife on more than one occasion that I would not volunteer for scouts once the youth were all done. I can’t even imagine how I could approach my wife with the idea of staying in as a volunteer after all the kids have moved out.
My kidlets and I have done some amazing things in scouting beyond just camping and volunteering, but that would have been enough. We have all made some great friends and wonderful memories. We have traveled to a Canadian Jamboree in 2013, a Pacific Jamboree in 2015, and a Finland Jamboree in 2016. I have three boys heading to Pacific Jamboree again in July of 2019 and we have a few of us planning to head to EuroJam in Poland in July 2020. The summer of 2022 will see some us head back to Finland again as well.
For those of you wondering, there will be a destination trip in 2021 but it will be a year to suck up to my wife which means two week trip back to Disneyland with the kids… maybe Mexico too.
Here are some pics from 2015 & 2016…
Teaching and learning
Yes, my goal was to use scouts to teach my children things that I didn’t know… it’s a short list so I thought it would be a challenging goal. I thought I might get bored with scouts after teaching them everything that I knew but through my volunteer time with this organization, there is no doubt that I have learned way more than I ever dreamed… and more than I ever taught.
I have been a Beaver section lead, a Scout section lead, a Venturer advisor and a Group Commissioner for my small group just outside of Edmonton. I have been handed Wood Badge certificates on seven different occasions and the opportunities to learn seem endless. I also took on a council role for a year to lead Recognition and I have been teaching scouters, youth, and parents how to use ScoutsTracker for over 5 years now. For most of the past few years I have been managing the ScoutsTracker account and calendar for the national account as well as Northern Lights and Chinook Councils. I was one of the three founding members of the Western Training Committee which is now used to communicate training events to scouters across Alberta and Western Canada. The event we now call FTE (Family Training Event) annually sees 300 people come out for a one-week training camp in August and it grows every year.
I have been directly involved in helping to move several groups and events to online billing, invoicing, and expense tracking which, along with implementing Council-wide ScoutsTracker licenses, has helped us immensely in communicating with one another, tracking and managing event attendance and revenue, and focusing our attention on the youth and program.
My time also allowed me the freedom to take courses and get certified with archery, climbing wall, first aid, low ropes, and survival programs through Adventure Smart. I have been offering the Hug A Tree & Survive and Survive Outside courses to any other group (in and out of Scouts Canada) that was interested and to date have taught the course to over 300 youth.
This year I will be helping to run one of our oldest camps, the 42nd annual Mad Trapper’s Camp. This scout camp is one of many council events I have helped with and my term as camp chief will soon transfer to assistant camp chief and then hopefully secretary so I can focus on other interests… mostly because we really need an Alberta Jamboree. *smile*
Here are some pics from 2017…
Lessons from the hammock
I look forward to another decade of scouting but it will all be downhill from here I hope… with how busy my schedule is at any rate. I fill in for adult ratio with all sections and try to attend every camp for all five youth but getting back to only having four or even three sections to worry about will be a huge blessing to my sanity.
Last weekend it was almost -20C (-4F for my American friends) and the hammock was setup at a beaver camp with my princess. Next weekend I will be sleeping in it at the Mad Trapper Camp and I will be teaching a hammock course next month at our Indaba Day training. I have not had a single regret about joining scouts and I have learned a ton from the organization, the people, the program, the training, and the youth. Perhaps it is my old age, but at this moment, the most important thing I can think about is acknowledging the capacity of my bladder. As a 49 year old man, I could have probably ignored that knowledge for another decade but it turns out that I wake up in my hammock some days at 6am needing to weigh how bad I have to go to the bathroom against how much I don’t want to slide out of a hammock into the snow at -27C (-17F, the coldest I have slept in the hammock thus far).
Some of the things we learn are simply more important than others, and I have learned to say no to that late night hot chocolate before heading into the trees to say goodnight to the wind. I hope that my kidlets get half as much out of scouting as I have, and I pray that all of you have the opportunity to find something in your life that pushes and pulls you until you stretch to places you never thought of reaching for when your life was boring and filled with free time.
If you want to see some recent pics from 2018, I just posted some pics of our cubs meeting some new friends.