Younger joined the Scouts this Spring. I was thinking next year, but apparently that means Spring in Boy Scout-ese. He's been wanting to do this for years. I'm a terrible mom - I didn't let him join during his elementary school years. Older had been a Cub Scout and had not enjoyed it because after being in school all day, now he was spending the evening sitting quietly while adults talked. Plus, it just seemed like One More Night Of Obligation, so I told Younger, "No." Besides, my friend, Kitty, had said, with regards to Older's Cub Scout dissatisfaction, that the real fun starts in Boy Scouts when the Boys are in charge and get to do more. So, when I told Younger, "No" it was more of a "No, not right now, when you are older and can join Boy Scouts." And, like Mary, the mother of our Lord, Younger took my words and treasured them up in his heart. And then bid his time, till he could begin his campaign to join in earnest this Spring...
Really, I think joining Boy Scouts is an outstanding idea, and Younger has enjoyed it so much. It's just so awkward for me. For starters, I don't get the lingo (and whose fault is that, Mrs. No Cub Scouts?). For another, much was made of the fact that this is a Boy Led Troop. Which signaled low-involvement to me. Which is ridiculous. An 11 year old boy cannot do much without parental involvement, and a group of 11 year olds? Good heavens, get in there! Why did I think that? I don't know.
Also, I sort of like to ease into a new setting: attend a few meetings, meet a few people, sign up to bring cookies, then an activity - see? Nice and slow. That is a hard NO in the Land of Scouts. My first night, I was strongly encouraged to sign Younger up for Summer Camp. Like, Strongly Encouraged. And there's Younger, grinning broadly at me. My fellow Scout moms are freaking out because they have never sent their sons away. I'm actually pretty calm on that front because Younger has been going to a sleep-away camp since he was in the First Grade. But the more I listen, the more I realize that Boy Scout camp is going to be completely different than the Super Shiny Camp my boys have attended. There will no checking the website every morning to see what photos the Camp Photographer has posted, there will be no Main Desk to take my calls in case I've forgotten something or requested proof of life because I didn't see a pic of my son that day. I will be lucky if I get a text message saying they arrived safely. The Freaking-Out is spreading...
"I'm freaking out, " I complained to Wise Rebecca. I'm now referring to the Camp Packing List. After signing Younger up for Summer Camp, I received an email, again Strongly Encouraging me to sign him up for a Weekend Camp Out/Hiking Trip as sort of a summer camp trial run. Here's the shopping list I received Monday night:
I mean, for the love...
I may have looked a little panicked because a more experienced Scout Mom started talking to me in that soothing voice one uses when coaxing a stray dog to come out of the bushes. "You don't have to buy this, this, or this. This time. And he really doesn't these things. Yet. You know, I always say that we earn the Eagle Scout." Super. Can I put Eagle Scout on my resume?
"You may not have experience with Scouts," soothes Rebecca (again with the soothing!) "but you're great at shopping."
Ok, yes, I am good at shopping. So, why am I still so anxious?
Generally, whenever my boys have started something new, Kindergarten, Theater Club, even Middle School, I get it. I see the Needs List, and I get it. And I know where to get it. Gentle Readers, this may come as a shock to you, but I'm not a Camper. So, when I look at this List and see Compression Stuff Sacks, I'm just a lot lost. This is not at all like when the Choir Teacher said that white shirts and black pants were needed. I know what a white shirt and black pants are, and I know where to obtain such necessities. And this, this trying to help Younger navigate something so far removed from my frame of reference, my level of expertise, this is what has me so anxious.
And so I would like to give HUMONGOUS kudos to Boy Scout Mom and friend, Monica.
(This photo is from a Halloween party, which is why I'm sporting a tat sleeve. I'm not that cool. And since it's October in Houston, I am that sweaty.)
Monica kept up a steady stream of phone calls and texts while I was shopping Tuesday night. "Look for this," "Yes, that's important," etc.
The day before our boys were to go camping Monica had the brilliant idea to have the boys practice setting up their tent in my backyard. Because they would be doing it for real in the dark. "That's why you need to buy a headlamp," she told me. Check this out:
"This is so great, boys!" I enthuse. And then Monica comes over. "No, no, no," she says. And starts a thorough check of the tent - the ground cover thing that goes under the tent has holes, the front part sags, and the elastic in the poles is broken. And she sends an email to the Scout Master detailing all of this, as he has heard enough from me, thank you very much.
DIY Maven Ann has an older son in the Troop. "It is overwhelming at the beginning," she soothes (!!!!) "and then it gets better."
So, it is with fresh resolve that I sent Younger off for the weekend. Never mind that I have never sent him so far knowing so little about the trip. The point is for Younger to start handling more, and for me to start handling less. I need to let him succeed at this because of his efforts, not because I already know how this works.
Younger returned home a little sunburned, really tired, and deliriously happy. He adored it all - sleeping in tents, outdoor urination, those dreadful meals - "Mom, you just pour hot water over it, and voila! Beef Stroganoff! Not as good as yours, but still delicious!"
I'm going to join REI because, like Scarlett O'Hara, I will never be perplexed and alone about a camping list again! Yes, I know it costs more, but the products are excellent, and the customer care is on par with Nordstrom - ooh, Nordstrom! I get that! Also, Monica said to, and, really, that's reason enough.
DIY Maven Ann has helpfully pointed out to me that once a year is the Family Camping trip...
I may need some soothing.