Farewell, Cub Scouts

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My son after his first Pinewood Derby. Photo by Rob Huddleston
My son after his first Pinewood Derby. Photo by Rob Huddleston

Who can say if I’ve been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you…
Because I knew you…
Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.
Wicked

Today is my last day as a Cub Scout leader. Tonight, I’ll be attending our monthly Pack meeting, presiding over it for the last time. At the end of the meeting, I’ll be officially handing over the reins to my replacement. I’ll come home and for the last time take off my Cub Scout Leader neckerchief.

This isn’t the end for me in Scouts by any means. My son bridged up to Boy Scouts in March, and I’ve already been active in his troop, where I will continue to serve as Assistant Scoutmaster. I’ll be able to continue to camp with him and watch him grow and hopefully someday in the next few years stand proudly by him as he receives his Eagle rank.

But while being a Boy Scout leader is fun, it’s not the same as being a Cub Scout leader. Our Cub Scout Pack currently has an Assistant Cubmaster who doesn’t have a son. Like me, he’s an Eagle Scout, and someone who just really enjoys Scouting and believes in what it has to offer, and so he volunteers his time for us. I’ve often wondered over the years I’ve known him why he volunteers at the Cub Scout level instead of with the older boys, and he’s told me that he enjoys Cub Scouts more. With the younger boys, leaders simply have more to do. I accepted that, but until now, faced with the prospect of not having that connection anymore, I’ve never truly understood it.

I’ve been a leader since my son, who turns 11 later this month, first joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger Cub at age 6 in first grade. I’ve been an Assistant Den Leader, Den Leader and Cubmaster. Throughout that time, I’ve also served as the Pack’s advancement chair and have held several positions at higher levels outside the Pack as well.

“My kid loves Scouts, and I love my kid.”

Why do I do it? Why do I spend a lot of my time and a not inconsiderable amount of money to hang out with elementary school kids? A former Cubmaster of ours I think said it nicely one time when he was asked. “My kid loves Scouts, and I love my kid.” That’s certainly a lot of it. I’ve done lots of volunteer things over the years, but this is the only one that I get to do with my kid.

But my son has moved on to Boy Scouts, and yet I’m still sad about leaving Cubs. So it’s not just the time with him. There is indeed something special about Cubs. Boy Scouts is, by design, a boy-led organization. The adults are there to help and guide and of course keep everyone safe, but in an ideal world the boys should be running things. And that’s possible when the boys in question are 14 or 15 or 16. But of course we can’t expect first- and second-graders to take on leadership positions. So there’s simply more to do for leaders in Cubs than in Boy Scouts. And that is definitely part of it.

But more than that, Cub Scouts provides a chance to watch these boys grow up. I remember when my son first joined. Seeing him as this tiny little kid, with these older, seemingly so much more mature, and certainly taller Webelos Scouts. And then in a blink of an eye, he was one of those Webelos, and a whole new crop of tiny Tigers are there, ready to continue the tradition.

But as Chaucer said, all good things must come to an end. And so it’s time to move on. But as I do, I need to say thanks. Thanks to the parents who have trusted me with their kids over the years. Who brought them to meetings, sometimes against their will. Who kept them focused and progressing through the ranks. Thanks for recognizing the importance of a program like Scouting and for getting your son involved.

Thanks as well to my fellow leaders. Thanks for volunteering to come on this adventure with me. Thanks for stepping up and helping out. And most of all, thanks for the friendship.

But most of all, thanks to the boys. They are truly an awesome group. They are funny, they are adorable, they are even on occasion clean. And they are the reason why we all do what we do.

I do move on knowing that I am leaving the Pack in great hands. And yet, as I look back on it, I wonder if I’ll ever again have the chance to do something so incredibly meaningful. Something that really has the opportunity to shape a future generation. My guess is not. And that’s OK in a way. At least I got to do it.

“How lucky I am to have known someone and something that saying goodbye is so … awful.”
The Other Side of the Mountain

 

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7 thoughts on “Farewell, Cub Scouts

  1. I didn’t take on a Den until my son was in 3rd Grade, then I stayed with it until he crossed over to Boy Scouts. And while I go on the occasional Boy Scout trip, my position in Boy Scouts is far less hands on. However I also went back and took on a Tiger Den and have worked with that group, and I’m leading an Arrow of Light den this year, and will hopefully transition this den into Boy Scouts in March.

    I love the Scouting program. I’m currently working my ticket and hoping by the time I cross over my Den to complete my Wood Badge. The trick is deciding what to do next. Tune stresses tgus year have me thinking I may not want to start another cycle of Scouts (especially in the Webelos/Arrow of Light ranks the camping takes a lot of time away from my family), so I’m thinking of becoming Assistant Den Leader for Tigers so I can help ease a new Leader into the program. Still lots of time to decide.

  2. You know, Rob, at 14, your daughter is just old enough to join venturing. That’s a high adventure BSA program that is co-ed. It could be a great way to bond with your daughter.

  3. Great post. I started as a Tiger Den leader when my oldest joined Scouts. Now he is a Bear, his brother is a Wolf, and I am the Cubmaster. I intend to carry on with that for a couple of years and do a ‘handoff year’ when my Bear reaches AOL. Great program… but it is just an hour a week, right? 🙂

  4. I have to tell you venturing is alot like cubs. Not that i dislike my sons troop. But the crew is awesome you must seek out a crew for her

  5. I started when my oldest (now First Class in Boy Scouts ) was a Tiger. Then did the same with my younger son (hoping to finish Tenderfoot by November ). It’s a good group of people, and I enjoy spending the time with my boys and their friends.

  6. I can’t wait to share this article with my pack. Your perspective is well stated. I’m hoping this article will help in my team-building for our pack.

  7. Thank you for sharing this – something I can point prospective volunteer parents to about the value of being involved in scouting.

    ‘…this is the only (volunteer activity) that I get to do with my kid.’

    Indeed.

    (New Cubmaster, restarting a defunct pack, with a Bear and a Wolf.)

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