The tenth in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works, and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

Our troop was on its way back from an awesome three-day weekend at Camp Hiawatha, lunching in a park in Gladstone, Michigan when an older gentleman came over and shared his memories of Scouting and how much he appreciated his experiences and the friendships he made. I have encountered similar “seasoned” and former scouts through the years, people who can look back with fondness and gratitude for their experiences, full of tales about camping and enjoying life’s adventures in the company of other scouts. As we prepare to welcome new scouts and their families in the coming weeks, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the importance of friends in Scouting.

Of course, friendship could not form among our youth without the influx of new members. Unit leaders, particularly Pack leaders should be planning to share the good news of Scouting with prospective families. Each unit should designate a Welcome Coordinator who can help new families understand Scouting, meet other families both new and returning, and become a treasured part of the Pack, troop or crew. We all know that Scouting is not an individual sport, but requires a team of fully engaged participants. For many of our families, this will be their first time to help welcome new scouts and families. Let’s all pull together to make this season of welcome a huge success. We need to back-fill our ranks in order to catch those families we lost during the dark days of the pandemic last fall.

Another group of friends, so important to the continuation and success of Scouting in the Bay Lakes Council is our Friends of Scouting family. So many of you pitched in, sharing your resources of time, talent and treasure to help sustain our programming, support our camps, and secure the resources needed to meet our budget. The annual Friends of Scouting campaign is concentrated in the spring of the year, but pledges continue to be fulfilled through the remainder of the year and of course, it is not too late to contribute to the 2021 campaign. All you need to do is navigate to the support tab on the webpage and select 2021 Friends of Scouting link where you can make a pledge or provide a gift of support. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of those unit FOS presenters, District coordinators and others who helped make our annual campaign soar. You can also support our council through various fall events scheduled in every district. Watch for opportunities to bring the family and join with others on an adventure hike or Golden Eagle event.

As the summer sun sets a bit earlier and the leaves begin to turn to brilliant colors drifting downward to decorate the paths at our feet, let’s remember to share the days we have with one another, to extend a hand in friendship to a fellow scout, neighbor, parent or grandparent. As we do our daily good turns, let us do so in the spirit of friendship as our Scout Law calls us to do. And let us all do our best to welcome many new friends into Scouting.
Paul Shrode
With assistance from Michael Alberts, BLC Field Director