“Scouting, Family-Style,” Ensign, Sept. 1992, 60–61
Is your Cub or Boy Scout an enthusiastic go-getter? Or do you struggle with motivation—his as well as your own? As a mother who loves the Scouting program for the fun, sense of achievement, and values it teaches boys, I have discovered eight ways to help keep Scouting exciting for you and your son.
Read the section on advancement from the Scout manual and talk about it with your son. Many different activities can fill merit badge requirements. Look through the possibilities for Scout achievements and help your son choose the ones that interest him. Then post lists of requirements around the house so that your family won’t overlook opportunities to help your Scout fulfill them.
Plan family activities around Scout requirements. Visits to museums, state capitols, dams, fish hatcheries, police and fire stations, parks, beaches, and many more places can help fulfill requirements. Family home evening activities can also double as Scout achievement activities. If your boy needs more hiking time, plan for the family to go on a hike for home evening. If he needs more outdoor cooking time, go to a park and barbecue some hamburgers. Look through his requirements for fun things that the family can do together.
Plan to fulfill some requirements during your family vacation. One family set a goal to help their son complete the bird study merit badge on their summer trip. Together they watched birds on the desert and in the mountains.
Involve relatives and family friends. If your son is going to spend time with grandparents, cousins, or family friends, look for an appropriate achievement he can work on while he’s there. Send a copy of the requirements with him. A member of our bishopric invited one of our sons and another boy in our ward to spend a week at his ranch. He had the boys bring along their Scout manuals. In addition to having fun, the boys completed the requirements for the environmental science merit badge during their visit.
Use the buddy system. Scout projects are more fun when two brothers or two friends work together. When we were going to work on Scouting requirements, I used to say to one of my sons, “Why don’t you call Donny and see if he wants to come over and work on the physical fitness skill award?”—or whatever achievement my son needed. He would scramble to make the call because the activity sounded like fun.
Another family invited several kids to come to their house to work on athletic merit badges. The boys loved it.
Use Sundays and sick days to work together on written reports and to discuss Scout projects. Our boys started or finished many achievements while they were recovering from a cold or the flu. We found that it helps to have a notebook or folder just for Scouting. That way, it’s easy for the boys to pull it out and work on achievements; and the written reports, clippings, maps, and other things they need to show merit badge counselors are all in the same place.
Work on at least two achievements at the same time—a fun one and a harder one. That way you can say, “Do this report and then we’ll go out and work on archery or look at the stars.”
Make a chart that shows your boy’s Scouting progress. Put his picture on it and post it where he can see it. The recognition and pride of accomplishment will mean everything to him. Take pictures of him in his uniform or with something related to a project he’s worked hard on.
Remember the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines.” Help your boy set goals and accomplish as much as possible while he is a young Scout. While he is excited, everything seems to be fun. But don’t become too pushy or start comparing your son or yourself to anyone else. Enjoy the values Scouting teaches and the closeness it can bring to your family.—Vicki H. Budge, Bend, Oregon