Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Beaver Scout and His Scouter Mom

Jonas loves being a Beaver Scout. It's one night a week, and a weekend or two a month, that he gets to have good old-fashioned fun. He can run and be loud, play with his friends, play dodge-ball and tag (which are both banned during school activities), learn cool new stuff, let his creativity flow, hang out with bigger boys, and explore nature - actually play outside in it - sometimes even in the dark of night! And don't get me started on the campfire stories he has to tell! He doesn't get shushed very often either. He struggles with some of the more formal parts of the night, like sitting quietly for ceremonies and not not talking while someone else is, but he's starting to catch on. Luckily, part of the Scouts Canada program is the social development of our youth. He comes away from each meeting or event more positive and confident than he was when he arrived, and personally, I believe that kind of experience is priceless!
Jonas is very proud of his campfire blanket and all the crests he's earned so far.
One of the many great things about Scouting is that he is surrounded with positive adult interaction and role models. Scout leaders provide positive guidance and feedback, not criticism and punishment. As leaders, we keep at the forefront our minds that we are helping to mold young adults, not trying to fit them into a mold.

Becoming a Scout Leader is one of the best things I've ever done. It has proven to be a wonderful new way to connect with my son. Part of the credit goes to an unwritten rule that says "There are no moms in Scouting!" When I first heard that, the feminist inside me started screaming. Growing up, I always wanted to be a Boy Scout but I wasn't allowed because I was a girl. I was a Brownie, and then a Girl Guide, and I even tried Pathfinders for a little while. Then, blessedly, I become a quitter. I hated every second of it, except maybe when my Grandma Lillie taught me how to knit so I could get my first badge in Brownies. My opinion of Girl Guides has changed over the years but back then, the only thing it really meant to me was that at least once a week I had to wear a dress and learn girl things. I hated it! I wanted to be out in the bush with the boys, learning how to make shelters and start campfires.

Girls are a growing part of Scouting today, and women are stepping up to become leaders more and more. I did it because I was going to take Jonas every week anyway, and the group was short of leaders. I love kids, camping and outdoors so it seemed like it would be a great fit. There is a danger though, of us joining just to keep an eye on little Johnny or Jenny, and there is an equal risk of our kids holding too tightly to our apron strings. And if it's been a rough day for parents and our kids, it can be hard for either of us to set those frustrations aside, even for an hour or two.

When they say "There are no moms in Scouting" what they mean is that I'm not there to be Jonas' parent. I'm there to be a Leader for all the kids. Jonas isn't allowed to call me Mom and the other kids aren't allowed to call me Jacqui - even the ones I babysit full-time. They call me "Sunshine".

Sunshine and Jonas have a wonderful relationship. She's more patient than me, and a better listener too. Even though she gets frustrated sometimes too, she doesn't ever yell or get angry. And she's starting to get pretty good at crafts, songs and games too! Whether she's in the gym helping the kids to resolve a dispute over the rules of a game, freezing her butt off on a toboggan hill making sure nobody crashes, or at camp getting everyone to settle down for bedtime, she's teaching me to be a better mom. She's not perfect. She's still learning, but she's helping me become the mom I always wanted to be.



  1. I came across your blog while searching for "scout blankets." We just recently put our 7 year old son into Scouts and your blog is exactly how my husband and I feel! Riley has ADHD and struggled to fit in with other kids in sports, etc... He feels at home in Scouts and enjoys it so much!

  2. Wondering if you have
    Moved onto cubs and would be willing to part with your sunshine badge? We have a new leader that is definitely a sunshine but we cannot get the badge. From Rainbow. ;)