By Melinda Hotchkiss
Jan 30, 2016

Finding Scouting Again

Family Camping featureI grew up in a home where Scouting was a big part of our life despite the fact I was an only child and a girl. My dad served as the Webelos den leader or 11-year-old Scout leader for several years and often times I would tag along to help him.

Some of my fondest childhood memories come from the experiences I had as I tagged along with his pack or troop. As parents we often have the desire to create similar positive experiences for our own children as they grow up, so it was no shock that I was tracking down the leaders for the Cub Scout pack in my area when my son became eligible to join.

Shortly before the first den meeting I was asked to be an assistant den leader for my son’s Wolf Den; needless to say I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  Excitement and anticipation grew as we waited for the first den meeting. The first den meeting was on bicycle safety and both my son and I had an enjoyable time.

While we anxiously awaited the next den meeting I noticed a change in my son’s demeanor and he wouldn’t tell us what was wrong. I hoped that his mood would change with attending that next den meeting. When the time came we loaded up and went to den meeting only to find nobody there. I called and left the den leader a message and awaited her reply.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Finally I had enough waiting for her to call us so I called her back. This time she answered and explained to me that she felt that my son and I would not fit in with their den and that perhaps I should look for another den for my son to join.

Her response shocked me and created a bitterness in me towards a program that I had grown up loving. My dad had never turned a boy away that wanted to participate so I couldn’t understand why she would or what my son and I had done to deserve being treated this way. It was also then that I discovered that some of the boys in the den had been teasing and taunting my son at school. The bitterness grew into hatred and both my son and I swore we would never have anything to do with the Boy Scouts of America again.

We began looking at little league football as an alternative to Scouting. At the parents meeting the head coach stood up in front and talked about practices and games. He told us that there would be no practices on Tuesdays since that was the day most of the boys had Scouts.

I rolled my eyes in disgust and secretly wished that Scouting would just go away. The season progressed and my son made several friends, forgetting about his bad experience with Cub Scouts.

Years went by and I forgot all about Scouting. Until we moved and I found myself being asked to be a part of the local Cub Scout pack. I explained my hatred and that if there were any way possible to not be a part of an organization that allowed such behavior to take place then I wanted out. A smile met my frustration as the response, “Just give it a chance” was given.

CampingMy son had been going on the Scout campouts over the summer and was happy to be a part of Scouting again, perhaps I could be too. That was just over 2 years ago and today I am still serving my local Cub Scout pack on many different levels and happily working at the local Scout Service Center.

J.R.R. Tolkien penned, “From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken.”

This experience taught me a valuable lesson in that you cannot punish or hate an entire group or organization based on the actions of one individual. I am grateful for this experience because it has brought me to this point in my life and made me a better person.

Today I stand renewed in my passion for an organization that doesn’t just teach boys the life skills they need to become better individuals tomorrow but also encourages those involved whether they be parents, volunteers or employees to become better as individuals and as a whole.

Melinda Hotchkiss
Author: Melinda Hotchkiss | District Staff and Price Store Manager

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