Scouting, now I'm ready!
My experience with scouting began some years ago as a boy going through a pretty standard dysfunctional scout group. I say standard because that has been my experience much more often than running the program the way it was designed. I went through my wolf and bear advancements in Cub Scouts without incident but didn't finish my Arrow of Light because the ward I was in didn't have a very good program at the time I was in it. It has always bothered my that I didn't earn that terminal ranking in the Cub Scouts. I'm not joking, you can ask my parents or my wife. My mother knows well enough that both of my brothers got their Arrow of Light, though sadly neither finished their Eagle.
I think part of the reason I finished my Eagle was because it ate at me so much that I hadn't finished my Arrow of Light. I say part because I think the real driving forces were that my parents expected it, my ability to drive depended on it, and I had a fabulous Scout Master (though looking back he might have actually be a scout committee member). He was a great example to me of how most of us are already scouts, we are learning and growing naturally. He is the one that pointed out that I already played in the orchestra, why didn't I have my music merit badge? The scouting program is not to change boys into identical people, but to encourage them in learning things they want to know and expanding on things that they already know. If a boy isn't having fun in the program, there is a problem with the way the program is being run.
Yes, the early years of Boy Scouts is not very fun. All the tasks to become a first class scout (or as Baden Powell said, "a real scout") as less enjoyable than the merit badges can be but they are essential characteristics. I can't count how many times my wife has told me that she wishes she was a stronger swimmer. Scouts, real Scouts, should be decent swimmers. But they need to be taught. Not just told and asked to do. Teaching is doing it with the boys.
I am not a natural teacher. I have had to put a lot of effort into learning how to teach. As such I can see many of the ways that I fall short could be better. In seeing my flaws I have always had problems teaching the boys how to become real scouts.
That is until recently. What is the difference? I have learned that leaders don't know everything. They admit that. But more, they do something about it! Why? Because that is exactly what we are trying to teach the boys. If scouting makes men out of boys one thing that includes is learning what is worth knowing AND LEARNING IT!
For the first time in the past 4 years (2 of which have been spent in scouting as an adult) I feel that I can be a scout leader not because I know something to teach the boys but because I'm ready to learn with them, share with them, and become a man (or at least a better one) with them.