Single Mom to Scouter
Allison Jackson, a single mom from a small Pennsylvania town, used Scouting to light her way home after years lost at sea. She was inactive in the Church and frustrated with people. She felt like an outsider looking in, wanting badly to belong. Out of the blue, a sister called Allison asking if she could pick up her son, Joe, for Scouts. This was the first step to building the family atmosphere she so badly craved.
Finding Scouting and Becoming Involved
Being a single mom, it was hard for Allison to find positive male and Priesthood leader role models for Joe. It did not take long for her to realize Scouting provided this. But, the local program was not being fully utilized because of lack of communication and training.
When I tried to find out more about Scouts, because I wanted to help him (Joe) have a good expierience, I found that communication, a quality program, proper training and District support from the Unit Commissioner seemed to be missing. It seemed they were overwhelmed, had a take it or leave it attitude, or they just couldn’t get the help from other adults.
She found that the committee chair was working hard for the Scouts in the program because he truly cared. However, she also found he lacked support. After several months, she decided she should show support to Joe and take an active role in Scouting.
I was at the next committee meeting, in uniform and willing to serve. I realized there were many people giving their time and their talents to a program that was meant to help my son and I needed to do my part. Dropping him off was no longer enough.
Allison became a merit badge counselor and the Varsity Advancement Chairperson. They also started participating in activities regularly. This led to involvement in Young Men activities. Allison was also making an effort to seek out the Sisters and fellowship more. Even when she moved, she immediately found a new troop for Joe and became an Associate Advisor for a Venture Crew. At six months pregnant she was still camping. She became the leader urging the parents to take a more active role in their child’s experience. Her participation continued further with training. Scouting websites host most of the training materials. This ease brought her delight. She was even more ecstatic when she heard about Wood Badge.
Wood Badge is an advanced level of adult training with several weekends devoted to learning and practicing the methods of Scouting. Many of the original Baden-Powell methods are used to help participants “work their ticket back to Gilwell” and earn their wood beads. The training received from Wood Badge rivals any top leadership training program.
I think it was fear that held people back because they didn’t understand how simple it really was and they didn’t have the training.
Allison believes that anyone with a connection to Scouting should participate in a Wood Badge. Inspiration and knowledge gained from Wood Badge would have overcome the problems she faced when starting her son in Scouting.
Part of Wood Badge is setting 5 goals for yourself, called tickets, to be completed after Wood Badge. It helps you find your personal story and highlights your passions and interests.
Wood Badge has been life changing. To be part of something so big and so very special, to realize that I had something to offer and that I could make a real difference, really opened my eyes and my heart.
Allison compares the ticket items to five Eagle Scout Projects that make a difference and test your limits. Her first goal was to “help ward members become aware of the impact that Scouting has had in the lives of the members.” She wanted to people in her ward to become inspired and involved. She thought the best strategy for this was recognizing Scout Sunday. This required her to attend church on Sunday. This goal not only helped her Scouting mission but helped her become active in the Church again. Through Woodbadge, Allison learned that she loves Scouting and hard work can have a lasting impact. She thinks working a ticket is never done, so she continues to endure and progress.
Allison started as an uninformed single mom who dropped her child off every week and when she first wanted to participate, she felt overwhelmed. She decided to dive in any way. Engaging in Scouts and then Wood Badge helped her to not only become a better Scouter and mom, but also a better person. She has always known she was a daughter of Heavenly Father changing from coal to a diamond, but now she sees a sparkle starting to emerge.
Check out my other favorite articles on Wood Badge:
- My (Not So) Weird Obsession with Wood Badge
- The Combined Power of Philmont and Wood Badge
- Wood Badge- My Own Sacred Grove
Author: Julia Thompson | Marketing and Fund Development Associate, Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America