Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Read the Fine Print

Happy 100th Anniversary to Scouting!

This time every year, cub scout packs across the country have some sort of a Blue & Gold banquet to celebrate the anniversary of scouting.

Back in Hawaii, we also had a father-son cake decorating contest that was a lot of fun.

The way they do things in our pack here in Virginia, they want the scouts to finish the requirements for their new rank badge (Tiger, Fox, Bear) by the Blue & Gold banquet so they can all be presented their new badge at the banquet.

Last year, we had just moved here from Hawaii and joined the pack after they had already started knocking out the requirements to get done by the Blue & Gold Banquet. As a result, ES wasn't done with the requirements for the Wolf Badge when we went to the banquet. We kept plugging away and finished the requirements later, and I didn't sew the Wolf Badge onto his uniform until he finished.

The past month or so I have felt like we were under the gun, working toward a deadline. There are just SO MANY requirements in the Bear book! For you navy folks, it's sort of like a qual card. There are 24 "achievements" (block sigs) with titles such as "What Makes America Special," "Take Care of Your Planet," "Family Outdoor Adventures," "Building Muscles," and "Sawdust and Nails." Each achievement has anywhere from 3 to 10 individual activities the scout needs to complete to get signed off (each has a signature line just like a qual card). The activities aren't generally quick tasks. The activities are things like:
  • Visit a museum, zoo, or aviary
  • Attend a professional sporting event with your family or cub scout den
  • Collect 1 month of daily newspapers and turn them in for recycling
  • Keep track of your personal spending for 2 weeks
  • Build a model
  • Build your own tool box
  • With an adult, make a dessert for your family (I'm glad they put that "with an adult" caveate on that one! Can you imagine the mess in the kitchen???)
Thankfully, you don't have to do ALL the activities for each achievement. Most say you have to do like the first and the last activity and then choose 4 of the others to do. Even so, there are a LOT of requirements in there, and I just didn't see how we were going to get them all done before the Blue and Gold Banquet.

Enter the Den Leader, Dave, my hero.

We use this cool web-based program called Scout Track to keep track of the scouts' progress toward completing achievements and awards and whatnot. A couple of weeks ago, Den Leader Dave was all smiles and very enthusiastic as he told me, "So it looks to me like ES is almost done with his Bear requirements!"

Uhhh.... Huh?

At the time he told me this, we had like 9 of the 24 achievements done. Clearly he had ES confused with one of the other scouts, because we were NO. WHERE. CLOSE. TO. FINISHING. There was certainly no way on Earth we would get all 24 achievements done by the Blue & Gold Banquet. I thought we were going to end up like last year - continuing to plug away at the requirements and I would sew the badge on months later when ES finished them all.

Then Dave clued me in to the fact that you don't have to do ALL of the achievements.

On page 12 of the Bear book, it says, "You must complete


achievements to be a Bear Scout.

I suddenly felt like a tremendous burden had been lifted from my shoulders. There really was a light at the end of the tunnel. We really could complete the Bear requirements before the Blue & Gold Banquet. HALLELUJAH!!!

Since I had been putting forth an effort to get ES to complete ALL of the achievements, he had two or more signatures in almost every achievement. It was actually fairly easy to pick the 3 achievements he was closest to completing and focus on finishing them off.

But wait! It gets better!

After the Bear badge requirements, the book goes into electives for the scouts to earn arrow points. Another thing I discovered in the fine print of the book, on page 180, is that if your scout does additional activities from the Bear achievements above and beyond what was required for him to earn the Bear badge, then those additional activities count as electives for arrow points.

So because I was a dumbass we were ambitiously trying to knock out all 24 achievements, ES already has enough signatures in his book to get his first arrow point and is only 3 signatures away from earning his second arrow point. Score!

In any case, THIS year's Blue & Gold Banquet was MUCH more enjoyable for us.

They handed out the pinewood derby trophies.

ES received (and can WEAR) his new Bear Badge.

Note to Self: Next year, READ THE BOOK and check with the den leader to make sure you understand the requirements. (At least I'll know better when YB becomes a Cub Scout, right?)


Nereus said...

Way cool Dad,
Me I am Pimping the Thin Mints and Samoa's with the daughter for the G.S. cookie sales. People either avoid me at work or look me up for another fix. You need Cookies????
But keep it up with the Son's in B.S.A.

Tabor said...

He looks happy about all of this and not good job. For a minute I was worried that it was your badge you were working toward.

Anonymous said...

Great Scouting stories. You're doing it right by all accounts.

I didn't get my boys involved with scouting when they were little because it was just another hoop to jump through for my family - soccer, church, etc., and it was time I felt I didn't have. Also, I didn't like the way the local scouting organization was run. Too much politics and you had to be there for every event, regardless of whatever family priority. It didn't matter. Maybe my boys missed out on "the scouting experience" (which I wholeheartedly support and is a great experience), but as homeschoolers, I think we made up for it with lots of other family stuff.