A year ago today, Michael and I went to visit a Troop 492 Scout meeting. He wanted to join the Cub Scouts for years, but scheduling never worked out. But we decided that because he was going to be going to a magnet middle school, we’d let him join the BSA in the fall. His best friend’s dad was the Scoutmaster, so it was a way to keep him in touch with some of his friends.
Well, the terrific and very persuasive Scoutmaster convinced us that it made more sense to join right away. The Troop was brand new, so he’d be able to be involved in planning for the upcoming year, and could even go to Scout camp in July. We signed up that night. Little did we know what an incredible blessing that decision would turn out to be.
There was no way we could afford a week at Goshen at the time; we hadn’t budgeted for it, so the Troop worked with our sponsoring Rotary Club to pay Michael’s way. Michael’s best friend assured him that it was the BEST place in the world, and he’d love it.
A week and a half before camp, my dad passed away totally unexpectedly, shattering our world. Michael was with us that morning as my sister (recovering from surgery at our house) and I raced to our parents’ house after getting my mom’s call. Losing his beloved grandfather was devastating. We contemplated cancelling camp for him, but in the end decided to let him go, after getting assurances from his Scoutmaster that he’d be allowed to call us if needed. It was the best thing possible for him at the time. He had a phenomenal week and a break from the chaos at home.
And as our whole lives turned upside down this year – first with our move to live with and take care of my mom, through starting at a brand new middle school not knowing anyone, and then through this pandemic, his Scout Troop has been his lifeline.
Michael has thrived in Scouting, becoming the first in his Troop to promote to Tenderfoot, and then among the first three to promote to Second Class and then First Class. He sold a crazy amount of popcorn, and earned a free week at Goshen for this year. (Still hoping that will happen…) He’s earned a ton of merit badges – including several over Zoom from Councils all over the country! – and was just elected to be the new Patrol Leader. He was pretty nervous about taking on a leadership role, but his first (Zoom) meeting with the Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader this week convinced him that it’s pretty cool to be in ‘the room where it happens’!
I had no idea what we were signing up for a year ago. Now I’m the Assistant Scoutmaster, and a Merit Badge Counselor for several merit badges. I adore all the phenomenal kids in our Troop, and am excited to watch them progress, and to welcome in our new Scouts who will be bridging over from the Cub Pack in the next few weeks. The thing I’m actually missing most during this pandemic lockdown is getting to go camping with all those goofballs! But I’m so proud of all that we’re managing to accomplish despite the lockdown; we haven’t missed a beat.
We’ve had Troop meetings on Zoom every week, videoconferences for merit badge counseling, and even a virtual campout!
It’s been an amazing first year of scouting. I can’t wait to see what future years hold!