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Scout Mom

quinton2Our guest post today comes from Maggie Judi, who is a 30 year old mother of four children, and the wife of one army dentist. When she’s not wiping tears, answering four questions simultaneously, and folding Mt. McKinley sized piles of laundry, Maggie loves to hike, run, read, and of course, write. She very much enjoys the chaos and hilarity of motherhood. Maggie writes about the perils of motherhood in Alaska with a sunny and humorous spin at magsandmike.blogspot.com

Part of the job description for motherhood includes driving one’s children “hither and yon” to various enriching activities. I’ve acquired soccer mom stickers, and dancing ballerina decals to plaster proudly on the back window of my van.  Three boys and one girl in my minivan demand varied activities, and although each kid only may choose one sport, we also add in music lessons and the newest addition, scouts. Soccer supplies skills in teamwork, sportsmanship, and dribbling; tumbling: coordination and grace. Now that I’ve got myself a cub scout, we’re exploring a new genre of after school activities. It seems a bit overwhelming, with all kinds of merit badges and requirements, but I’m hoping to fit Wolf scouts into the schedule.

When I was a four-year-old Sunbeam, I spent a lot of time playing hooky. I was the lone girl in a class of five rambunctious boys, and developed a knack for escaping the treachery of sharing time for the safety of my mother’s company. I usually ended up exploring the church, but inevitably someone would find one of my exasperated parents who took me into their reluctant custody. One particular Sunday, Dad found me on his way to be set apart for a new calling.  The bishop smiled and told me to have a seat. I climbed onto a black upholstered chair and let my legs dangle off the edge. The quiet of the room broke into my imaginative reverie, the softness of the spirit making itself apparent. The Bishop and counselors set my dad apart to be the deacon’s quorum adviser, which included being the Scoutmaster. They said a small and simple prayer to help a young father tackle a demanding calling, but it was also a spiritual milestone for a small girl struggling to find her place in church. The mantle my dad received would remain in place 15 years and change innumerable lives, including my own.

And so began my education in all things scout-related. Most summer weekends growing up we were inundated with keyed up twelve-year-old boys, itching to be let loose in the forest. The treachery of sharing time suddenly seemed like small potatoes. My sisters and brother and I received nicknames, and noogies. A twelve-year-old is infinitely better equipped to tease a little girl than her kindergarten counterpart. Our lawn was usually littered with camping remains; olive green socks, dented canteens, backpacks and bedrolls. As Scoutmaster, Dad took it upon himself to haul tweens “hither and yon” across the vast mountainous and desert landscape of San Juan County, Utah. They hiked and camped, argued and learned, sunburned and swam, and all of them thought my dad was the greatest. They called him Mr. B, and he helped them along the scout path of merit bags to the ultimate accomplishment: The Eagle Court of Honor. Over the years they morphed from gangly, scrawny boys to strong and confident young men.

One of the favorite scout activities of the year became the redrock biking trip. Dad would pack up the boys and their mountain bikes and drive towards Arches National Park. People come from all over the world to ride the scarlet trails of Moab those young scouts could ride. A mountain bike for dad was never in the budget, but he always had a buddy to borrow from and the slickrock trail became a yearly adrenaline-pumping tradition. One year his troops secretly raised money to buy him a highly-rated mountain bike. I’ll never forget the gaggle of boys presenting it to their humbled scout master in the living room of our house. Tears rolled slowly down Dad’s weathered cheeks, it was a tender moment for years of sacrificing time with his own family to mold the sons of another.

Everything I know about being a scout mom I learned by watching mine. Mom always encouraged Dad to keep going. Fifteen years of camping can get old. She told him once, “You never know which one of these boys might grow up to marry your daughter.” My sisters and I didn’t marry a scout molded under dad’s tutelage, but we all followed our mother’s example of choosing an Eagle Scout. I think of her hard work, not just for her son but decades of deacons. She rolled sleeping bags and patched backpacks. She made an extra lunch or two for the scout who would inevitably claim he didn’t know he was supposed to bring one. She kept my brother going towards his Eagle. Even when he dragged his feet and procrastinated, she never let up. I don’t remember her complaining or being upset by any of it. She must have known her part in the greater picture.

Of the many things I learned about scouting, the foremost idea in my mind is this formulated recipe: take one obnoxious boy, coat generously with sunscreen, toss him into the wilderness with two adult leaders and lots of his friends, make sure to occasionally lose him, teaching him to pray in scary situations. Add a large helping of silly scout songs, dutch oven potatoes, and a dash of freezing nearly to death in a pup tent and Wal-mart sleeping bag. Don’t forget to omit bathing for at least a week. If the recipe is followed correctly, a mother can expect to receive back a teenage boy who has accomplished something rather remarkable. We’ll call him an Eagle Scout.

So, I buy the $25.00 cub scout shirt (a little big so it lasts longer),  and a wolf book.It will require lots of reading, goal-setting, gentle nudging, reminding, and maybe some threatening, to finish. I also know first-hand that it will be worth the investment.

Today my eight year old son pinned a  small tie tack to a simple ribbon hanging loosely around my neck. It had a little bobcat on it. His first goals realized and first reward earned. The pin is for me as a thank-you for helping him. This help mostly coming in the form of driving him “hither and yon” to pack meetings. I take in this moment when his arms and legs are skinny and awkward, when he stumbles a little during his first flag ceremony. I think of the sunburns, and prayers, and also of the leaders who’ll be molding him. I imagine him morphing into a stronger, confident, and spiritual kid. I wonder if all those lessons on honesty and integrity will seep into my everyday actions as well. Can scouts make a mom a better mom? Will I mature along with Quinton, will my spiritual arms become leaner and stronger? I think of my Dad, the many weekends we went without him. The scout paraphernalia on the lawn, the nicknames teasing scouts gave us, and the admiration in their eyes when they were about to embark on another adventure with Mr. B. I think of all this and I am grateful to know what scouts can do for a boy, and maybe I’ll come to know what it can do for his mother.

27 thoughts on “Scout Mom”

  1. Can I just say I like this?!

    I spent 10 years in Cub Scouting as my sons grew up, and the experience and training were life-changing. (Please, do Wood Badge! ASAP. And if you get an opportunity to do Philmont as a district/council cub leader–I did as Roundtable Commissioner–DO IT! Best. Family. Vacation. Ever.). Now I'm delighted as my sons discover the extreme coolness of Venturing, and one is almost at Silver (the highest award in Venturing, equivalent to earning an Eagle again, only on a higher/different level). Venturing is an overlooked gem.

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  2. I'm crying right now!! Love it!! My oldest just turned 8 and just earned his Bobcat, so I can totally relate to this and I have three older brothers (I'm the youngest and only girl) and my brothers all earned their Eagle Scouts. Thank you for this. I'm there with you sister!!

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  3. Maggie,

    Loved the piece it summarizes so many feelings about Scouting. (All positive!!) What a great blessing to have your dad be involved with Scouting. I loved the writing, keep it coming.

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  4. So adorable, I cried at the part when they gave your dad the bike. It's nice to know that tight budgets won't stop us from doing those things that are most meaningful.

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  5. A wonderful piece Maggie! I spent a day last week at Cub Scout Day camp and remembered how fun those little boys can be, even for a grandma aged woman! You are a gifted writer.

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  6. I spent this past weekend helping out at our 11-year-old scout day camp. I've been a den leader (not my favorite calling, to be honest), and I grew up in a scouting family. I sat there over the weekend watching the boys thinking what a fabulous thing scouting is for them. I think for the first time I really realized that it's not just about camping and merit badges, it's about spiritual growth, character, service,and honor. I was very touched also by the dedication of the leaders (especially those you could tell were true "scouters"). I had the thought that this is exactly where I want my son to be! I truly cannot understand the bad rap that some people give to scouting, and I wonder if those who feel that way have actually had the chance to experience it.

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  7. My dad was a scoutmaster growing up, but I wasn't the little girl the scouts teased. I was the teenager that had to get up early in the morning on weekends to accompany my dad and the scouts to the trailhead, drive the car to the other end of the trail and wait all day reading for them to pile in the back and sleep while I drove them home.

    Now my husband is a scoutmaster, at a time when we are looking for other work because the current job will only last a couple of months. We have no clue how we will pay for all the camps, "little things that come up" and other sundry expenses involved. I had no clue as a kid what my dad happily donated to the cause (holy cow). I have no idea how this is all going to work, but I hope to see a miracle.

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  8. When my oldest son started cub scouts, my husband and I were called to be the cub masters and it was one of the most stressful years of my life (because of financial pressures and other stresses). I admit that I resented cub scouting and the entire scouting organization. But as my son worked his way through the scouting program and eventually got his Eagle, then went on to receive a Silver Palm, I grew to deeply appreciate the scouting program and what it did for my son. I've seen my husband and son bond through going on camp outs together; I saw how earning merit badges and working on his Eagle project strengthened my son. Now I have another son in scouting who is about to start working on his Eagle project—and my appreciation for the scouting program continues to grow. But I have to admit, I'll be glad when he has finished his Eagle—I thought this a few months ago as my son and I poured a plaster of Paris mold on deer tracks, dug up soil samples, attended a city council meeting, hunted for rocks and put together a shell collection as we worked on several merit badges together. Scouting is a lot of work for moms, too, but it's been good for me as well. And over the years I've also grown to understand the importance of having a dedicated, hard working scoutmaster—next to the bishop, it's one of the most important callings in the ward, IMO.

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  9. This is beautiful! I have always thought Scouts was important, but didn't want to be really involved until recently, when I attended a scouting awards ceremony for leaders. As I listened to the countless hours of service these men and women gave, some in official scout leadership positions, others as "scout moms," something really moved me. Now I'm really excited for when our son is old enough to do scouts (and I'd even be happy to work with scouts before then–which I never thought would happen)!

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  10. Eljee,
    You said, "I truly cannot understand the bad rap that some people give to scouting, and I wonder if those who feel that way have actually had the chance to experience it."
    As a mother of two cub scouts, one transitioning to scouts in two months, I'll tell you I am one of those people. Scouting is fine, but I definitely do not see it as the end all of life-changing, spiritual-experiences-all-built-into- a-program that makes boys into men program. Sure, spiritual experience and life changing things may happen as one scouts, but scouting is not the necessary catalyst to either of these things.
    I hesitate to add that I am a den leader and my husband is Cub Master. We like our callings. It is fun to hang out with the boys and do activities with them.
    But we often view it as an over-inflated-expensive-money- sucking, rewarding-children-with-over-priced-pins-and- patches, program.

    That being said, I really liked this beautifully written post because it helped me better understand where people who bask in some glory of scouting that I always thought was imaginary are coming from.

    My husband is not an eagle scout–but is a man among men. Truly, you cannot find better. I am so glad that was not one of my prerequisites to marriage. There are plenty of amazing men around the globe who are faithful in the gospel who never experienced scouting (a program which is very American) who will never receive a Bobcat patch or swimming pin, or know what a venture scout is. They too will experience transitions to manhood from boyhood, spiritual experiences that are real and deep, and may never sleep in a tent in their lives, or in reality, spend their entire lives in one. Some of those boys will be in our wards and stakes too. And that is ok.

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  11. I agree that Scouting is not what makes spiritual giants of our boys — it is the testimonies the leaders bring and foster in everything they do together.

    My oldest didn't get his Eagle, but he did gain a deep and abiding testimony that God is mindful of him and answers prayer(try kayaking down the Green River in a kayak you built from scratch, by hand — you pray!).

    He learned about working hard, following your leaders, helping others, being faithful and loyal…. For that I am eternally grateful to his scout and YM leaders!

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  12. My husband is not an eagle scout either, and wasn't/isn't into scouts much at all. It certainly was not a prerequisite for marriage for me. I agree that scouting isn't for everyone, I was just referencing the almost-hatred that some people seem to have toward it.

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  13. I grew up with seven sisters. Yes, seven of them. My dad loathed camping. I had absolutely no experience with scouting other than the encounters at church when the boys were engaged in much more interesting activities than the Young Women. My husband was a diligent scout.
    Now with three boys of my own, and soon two will be joining the ranks of cub scouts, I am grateful for the program. I am grateful for a program which utilizes goals and a worthy vision of manhood to help young men become leaders. My husband is a great father and role model. But I am grateful for every additional ounce of support we get from church, scouting and the community that reinforces the ideal of good men. In a world which increasingly expects so little of men and often encourages them to be their very worst, the scouting program continues to encourage ideals which are admirable.

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  14. Thank You!!!! I got all teary when you were talking about Dad. I also have found memories of scouting and Dad,
    only you captured it better than I ever could. Mom and
    Dad are truly an example of service. I was too young to know the story of the bike, I remember that bike it is neat to know where it came from.

    Being an Eagle Scout was an important criteria for me (and I know for you and Tris as well) in a husband, I knew it made them a better, stronger man!

    Thanks again Mags.

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  15. It's true that Scouting is not for everyone, but the problem is that there are no other alternatives for the boys who don't like Scouting. And because it is a Church program, it's easy for those boys to feel like they are not a good young man if they are not a good Scout.

    My experience reflects much of what mmiles said. I'm frustrated with how the program is implemented in our area. Like many other things, it comes down to how individual leaders implement the program.

    I was happy to read this post because it reminds me that Scouting can be a positive thing. It's just hard to know what to do when it's not.

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  16. Great post Mags! I got teary-eyed when you talked about your father's experience as well. What a great example to you and those young men about how enriching the Scouting program can be.
    I am often thankful for a husband that had good scout leaders and great parental support concerning all things scouts. Even if we don't have boys to pass the scouting bug to, the things he learned and the testimony he gained enrich our family every day.

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  17. Maggie!
    You are such a good writer! I love that you can appreciate your dad's calling. It's so good to remember that every calling is service. Now I can appreciate my husband's scout leaders even if things didn't seem to sink in at the time, he eventually came around and turned out to be a pretty great guy!

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  18. Wonderfully said! I think you're an excellent writer and scout mom. I'm so glad that you've been so supportive to our scouting program. We need your family. I'm just learning all the scouting stuff and I don't know much. I better get on the ball though. A very touching piece. Thanks.

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  19. Thank you for this beautifully written post! I just got called into cub scouts for the first time, and I was feeling a little unsure about how to proceed. I now have a model for the kind of leader I want to be, and the kinds of skills I want the boys to learn. Thank you.

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  20. What a great piece. It shows what happens when the right people are called into scouting. Not that your dad was qualified prior to his calling but through a desire to serve and a love for the scouts he touched many lives. Not to mention the lives of your own family. I see the bike as a symbol of that love that the boys had for your dad. The right scout leader makes a world of difference and that is felt by the YM and their parents.

    What is your dad doing now? I will bet he has or is serving as a Bishop.

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  21. MAGS! I'm so excited to see your writing on Segullah!! I hope I get to see more of it! I love this piece. Someone told me once that you love the people you serve. Your Dad is certainly a living example of that, and the beautiful thing about it all is that those scouts loved him back. That's how our callings should be right? I have a lot of respect for the scouting program, and know it is a good thing for our boys. Your boys are so lucky to have such a great scout Mom like you!!

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  22. Thank you for the uplifting post, Maggie! I just endured a 12-day, scout-induced stint in single motherhood. And, your post reminded me that if one boy's testimony was helped along the way, then this 'high adventure' calling my husband has been given will be worth it.

    Loved seeing you on Segullah!

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  23. Mags, you are awesome. And I adore what you had to say. Being the mother of all girls I often lament the care and dedication given to the male half of the church population at the age of 8. I wish such measures were given to the girls as well. I too can see and feel the difference that scounting makes in a young persons life. You are very blessed.

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  24. Maggie, you are the awesome mother of three wonderful boys. And you have quite the adventure ahead of you. Of the mother of one of those Eagle Scouts (the one you married) I am so proud of all that you do and accomplish. And I know that you will mother and nuture those four grandchildren to be mature and spiritually minded, just as you are. Love you lots.

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  25. Maggi,
    Thank you for your beautiful post. My husband (and father of 4 daughters) has spent more than 20 years in the Scouting program. He has provided the kind of leadership your father provided and we have seen it change lives. It is such a joy to receive mission call announcements and temple sealing announcements from some of his boys.
    Your father is one of those amazing men! And how super that you have such a great testimony of what the program CAN do!
    Thanks for the beautiful post.
    Kim

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  26. Mags,

    Whenever I read what you have written I have great hope that someday Deseret Book will get lucky and sign you. A scout learns a lot from their Scout Master but the Scout Master learned what he knows from his mother. Poor Quinton, he has a big legacy to live up to. Good thing you are his mother! All my love. Arn

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