Sunday, November 6, 2016

Backing Away...Slowly...

The boy and his gear spilled through the front door around 6 pm. Heaps of fabric, a cooler sans lid, a tent magically folded back into it's carrying case, all reeking of sweat, dirt, and camp fire.  As it headed to the wash, and the boy to the shower, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as yet another camp out was done.

Scouts has been a huge part of Youngest's life.  He has formed friendships with people he would otherwise never know.  He has learned skills.  He has had adventures without me, and has gained an independence that I could have never given him.

It has also however, been a huge part of my life.  The week before my birthday last year there was a huge blow out with one of the parents and the Committee Chair.  She abruptly quit and since I was one of the very few already taking responsibility within the Troop, all of her tasks, which were many, fell to me.  And while I have given off many of them, the largest of the tasks, Committee Chair and Advancement, still are in my lap.

And from that point on, I was all in.  I spend 20 hours a week maintaining, updating, and planning Scout activities.  Watching the boys go from unfocused, ping pong balls of energy, to planners, leaders, and examples of great men is one of my greatest rewards.  I would not trade that for anything and I feel like, to some extent, they are all my kids.  I want them all to succeed, to go on to become Eagles, and make a difference in their community.  I want them all to be able to get every experience they want from Scouts, whether it be forging knives, whitewater rafting Class 4 and 5 rapids, or shooting a .5 caliber muzzle load rifle.

So it's no wonder that I have long insisted that Youngest squeeze every bit he can from Scouts.  And he has, up to now, without question.  He is now a Star Scout, well on his way to Life, when he will then start his Eagle project and inevitably make the rank.  He has several Eagle projects in mind, with one specifically high on the list, and has started to think of what he will need to put into it, as well as who he will need to work with to get it done.  He has only one required badge left to finish, and actually has finished it, but refuses to hand it in.

Which makes me crazy.

Youngest is a tough nut to crack.  It's taken me 6 months to get him to explain that he doesn't want to pass it in because then he feels like he won't have anything else to do.  I also think he doesn't want to pull too far ahead of his friends.  We fight a lot about Scouts now a days, weather he needs a uniform that night, his role in the Troop, if he really needs to be a Patrol Leader. *Sigh* It's exhausting.

And then, the other day, I had just had enough.  I was rushing around to get to the meeting, trying to coordinate this and that, answering the 15th email regarding something I can't remember, and I was just.... done.  The truth is I don't care if he makes Eagle.  At the end of the day, he has to care.  He has to want it.  A parent commented this weekend about "The next camp out you plan", to which I replied, "Dude, this is the last one I'm planning this year."  And it is.  The May camp out is all his.  The April one someone else's, January falls on our snow camping guy, and June/July are up for grabs.  It's got to somehow start coming together without me.  It will, but not if I don't let it go.

I am done. I want out before I burn out completely.  I want t just sit back, watch him grow, help out on an Eagle or two and enjoy the last 18 months of Youngest's Scouting career.  I want to pick and choose what I'm involved in, not spend my Sunday nights sending out Troop updates and fielding emails of accumulated service hours and partial requirements.  I want to paddle down a river in New Hampshire, in the middle of June, soaking in the sunlight, not mentally taking attendance and dreading the paperwork at the end of the weekend.  I want to not resent the smell of sweat and camp fire as it falls into a heap on the living room floor alongside an exhausted boy.

I don't think that makes me terrible.  I don't feel like I'm abandoning the Troop or leaving any of the boys out on a limb.  And while others may have a different opinion on it, I just can't care any more.

The Troop will be fine.

Youngest will be fine.  He will make Eagle if he wants it enough.

I will finally be able to actually enjoy the camp fire, without all the headache that goes along with it.



  1. Bud & I ran the local Cub Scout pack. At an assembly in the school auditorium we asked each boy’s parents to register & to tell us what they could do to help. The attorney father of one boy wrote on his slip, “Can’t help. Work full time.” Our boys were then 8 years old—nobody we knew was yet retired!

    Let someone else take over, although it will probably take more than one person!!

  2. You have absolutely done your time. Good for you... back away and let someone else do it!!

    To Fishducky up there... we had a lot of parents with the whole, "I work so I can't help" thing... so at one of the 'so your kid wants to be a scout' meetings, I did this.

  3. Right! I agree with you 100%. When it no longer becomes fun and becomes a chore, which I think it has in your case, it is time to move on and allow someone else step in. You did great with your service, now sit back and relax :) And you are right, it is up to youngest to decide how much he wants to pursue scouting further. One less thing to hassle about or fight about.


  4. You are 100% right. If you kid isn't the one who cares more about the activity, who is it really for? If you aren't enjoying it, you have to let it go. No point in creating strife between you two if you are the only one who cares about the outcome. It is a very tough lesson to follow!!

  5. I remember when my former Pastor went on an "If I don't do it, it don't get done" rant. I told him, "So don't do it. Stop going to the committee meetings. Tell 'em you're too busy. Eventually they'll figure out they need to do it themselves. The only one that can let you off is you." Sounds like you've come to that same conclusion.


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