Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cub Day Camp (Blogophilia 24.6)

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. with the pink poodle skirt  doing the macerena.- Courtesy, Kim Herndon-Ft Drum, NY


About ten years ago, I took a week off of work to be a Counselor/Den Leader at a Cub Scout day camp in Gwinnett County, about 20 miles from my home. With 120 boys registered, this was the largest assembly of scouts I had been to up to that point.   I was assigned to lead a Bear (9 year old) den that my older son was in.  My younger son was six and assigned to a Tiger Den that he ended up liking. 

It was one of the more challenging assignments I had ever done.In this crew, I only knew my son. I had eleven 9 and 10 year old boys, two of them certified ADHD, and I had one day to mold them into a semi cohesive unit that could work together without the death of me or some of the boys. At my home pack, I had known all the boys since they were 4 or 5.  I used my knowledge of their quirks to keep them in line. It took some trial and error, but like dogs, boys love leadership. And these guys liked military stuff. So,  I became the Sergeant and they became my platoon. 

One kid in particular was a handful.  A sweet tempered blond kid, you would say something that thirty seconds later would be totally forgotten.  One of the rules in my den was we marched  in cadence from event to event.  This allowed me and my assistant (a kind of cute LDS Mom), to bookend the crew and keep them from falling off cliffs. The little blond kid would invariably break rank and we would stop and hook him back into the fold.  On the second day, he did this in the parking lot in front of a moving car.  Finally I sat him down and told him that my sister was a nurse at the local emergency room (this was true, although I don't think she was on duty that day) and I would make sure any stitches necessary would be done without anesthesia.  His eyes widened and he got the message. No more problems with breaking rank.

The discipline worked.  Our den was cited for excellence on every day of camp and came in second place among all 26 dens for the week on activity advancement and general scout skills.  Which gets me to the quote and "assignment" Kim gave me in her blog.  On the last afternoon, was a ginormous Pack Meeting.  If you have experience in Cub Scouting, you know that Pack Meeting is when everybody gets together for fun, laughter and awards. And there was a skit competition for all the dens.  And there was a Adult Staff Den involved. 

My Den worked up the opening, which was a simple gate march to invite everyone to the show.  My boys lined up and as Emcee, I invited everyone to the show.  Splitting in the middle, the everyone did a slow eight count march backwards with their hands out in greeting.  It worked great and everyone slipped back into the audience to watch the rest of the show. 

At the end of the show, The Adult Den did a rendition of "If I Weren't a Camp Counselor".  One of the men was dressed in a pink skirt  and top and said "I would be a Girl Scout, won 't you buy my cookies?"  From the middle of the room, I heard my younger son shout out "I will!"  The room broke out in uncontrollable laughter. 

When order was restored (at as much as you can with 120 boys in the room), the adults went through the skit again, and when the question was asked, the whole room shouted "We will!" and the laughter came out again, but they did get to finish it this time. We then went to the Cubmaster's minute, did the Benediction and we were done.

As we were driving home, the boys asked me what I had thought of camp.  I was exhausted, but fulfilled.  I told them it was the most exciting thing I had done and I had much more respect for elementary school teachers.  Working with kids that age IS exhausting and I'm not entirely sure I would go back and do it again.  But I would not trade the experience for anything in this world. 

Remember in all things.

Do your best. 

It is all you can do. 

Oh, and if you really like writing, join us at Blogophilia on Facebook. 

Blogophilia 24.6

18 comments:

  1. Love it!! How awesome though what you could do with a frn of boys!!

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    1. You are first! I've always liked working with kids. To watch when the light bulb flips on in their head that they got it.

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  2. You are gutsy, I don't think I'd sign up to be a pack leader. But it sounds like everyone had a rewarding experience! -David II

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    1. Oh, I spent 15 years total in the Scout leadership trenches. I'd still be doing it if my wife's health hadn't changed a bit. Did everything on the Cub level and various jobs on the BSA level. As a boy and as an adult, I can't think of many activities that have given me that much fulfillment.

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  3. I loved coaching kids that age - there is still time to create the correct foundation. One of the things I miss most about the kids growing up

    TM

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  4. 8 points, Earthling!! And a wonderful job leading these future leaders by example!! -Marvin

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  5. You had me spellbound, throughout... Man, your level of patience is astounding. Obviously, you are a born leader. Those kids were fortunate to have you, and I bet, many recalled that week for a long time to come, as a highlight week of their youth.

    signed: Myke

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    1. You have to be patient. And know when NOT to say anything. It is a more effective lesson when they figure it out themsselves.

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  6. Yes children do prefer discipline and your creativity managed to emerge to form a cohesive group Yes to see the lightbulb, no greater gift, bravo to you on all counts

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    1. Thanks. Like I said, I gained an IMMENSE respect for elementary school teachers that week. I couldn't imagine having to keep 20-30 kids corralled at anyone time.

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  7. What an inspirational write! When I was a kid I was involved in Cub Scouts. Never made the effort to go into Boy Scouts as my family was going through some major life changes at that time. :(

    enjoyed this!

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    1. I understand entirely. The main reason I did not make Eagle was the combination of Troop collapse and a sudden family move. Stopped at Life with 16 merit badges.

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  8. Wow! Brings back lots of scout camp memories both as a counselor and as a camper -- as well as memories of when my own children went to camp and volunteering. Thanks so much for that. Awesome where this week's theme took you. ~barb k~

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  9. Lynn Seraphina DeVriezeAugust 9, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Wow, this was an amazing post this week friend!

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  10. sounds to me like father like son!!... :-)
    I laughed too Christopher at your sons outburst... its one of those magic occasions that you can never plan and it will always make the day stick in your memory forever.. I bet the whole camp will refer to this moment for many years to come!...
    it sounds like your going to do this again, reading between the lines *wink*.. you should pal... you sound like a natural born leader Christopher... plus it would make for a wonderful annual blog for us all to read..
    thanks for this I enjoyed reading your blog so much pal.. :-)

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