As we begin the fall season in Scouting, we welcome many new families and their Scouts into the Scouting experience. We also welcome back those who took a break over the summer or due to COVID. It is essential that we extend a warm welcome and welcome back to our Scouts and their families, that we take the time to demonstrate that a Scout is Friendly, Kind, Courteous and Helpful. Scouting is a foreign experience for many; uniforms and patches, unfamiliar jargon, traditions that the seasoned Scout or Scouter take for granted. Like the uninitiated pondering their first Slushie, confronted with many colors and flavors, many families approach Scouting with wonder and perhaps a little apprehension, but there is that anticipation of something special ahead! I was reminded of this as I attended a Pack welcome event and watched prospective new Scouts and their families take it all in. Neckerchiefs of many colors, ranks that don’t really convey the grade level they represent, blue shirts and tan shirts, there is much to learn and understand. It is the responsibility of all of us to orient our new families, to help provide those who have been absent due to COVID a chance to catch up, and to find ways to build a sense of cohesion and common experience in our units – Packs, Dens, Troops, Patrols, Crews, Ships and Posts.
It strikes me that our units are also reflective of the Slushie in another way. Our units are a perfect blend of ingredients,
Scouts with different talents, temperaments, convictions, experiences and traditions working together to learn with and from one another. The experienced camper often asks for different flavors to be mixed in their Slushie, trying out new and exciting tastes and colors until they find the one that best meets their expectations. Parents and adult leaders can help our Scouts to find that best fit experience in Scouting. Dens need adult guidance, and those parents who have talents to share are essential to the success of the program. There are many resources available including printed materials, training, and personnel to assist a new adult leader, and those leaders need and welcome participation by other adults as they develop and offer a program of activities to their Scouts. We all need to be ready to step forward to help, and we need to be willing to ask for help. Just as the Trading Post staff member often makes suggestions and offers advice on mixing flavors in a Slushie, we can all participate in helping our Scout find that most satisfying combination.
The initiated look forward to the next camp experience, to that inevitable visit to the Trading Post and the first Slushie of the season. Our Scouts all look forward to their Scouting experience, to meetings that are fun, offer opportunities to learn and practice new skills, and to take a chance and try something new. We must offer outings and field trips, visits to new places, and opportunities to serve others. There are likely to be bumps along the way. They may discover something they don’t like just as easily as they find something that will become a life-long passion. It is tempting to want to do everything, to say yes to everything. Parents and adult leaders need to help guide their Scouts toward that perfect blend of experiences. Too much too fast can overwhelm. After all, drinking that Slushie too quickly can lead to brain freeze! But don’t worry, it doesn’t last long and the lure of the Slushie always brings you back for more.
One final thought about the Slushie experience. Of course, having your own Slushie can be satisfying, but it is so much more fun to share the experience with fellow Scouts. Quizzing one another about flavor or color combinations, watching for that colorful tongue and occasional set of blue lips, and just sharing in the laughter and fun of the moment is so much more enjoyable. Scouting is like that. This is the time of year to share your enthusiasm for Scouting with neighboring families and friends with youth who might benefit from Scouting, to invite them to join you for a meeting or activity and help them to know about the fun that lies in store. Building a better Scouting experience means welcoming and engaging others to share the journey and savor Slushies together. So, extend an invitation to join in that next trip to the Trading Post.
So here’s to a great year in Scouting. Here’s to the anticipation, excitement, that first taste or new experience, and the refreshing, energizing and sweet flavor of Scouting. Now that you are in on one of the seminal Scouting experiences, let’s all raise our Slushie cup in a toast to welcome and welcome back Scouts and their families, to the success of our adult leaders, and the fun of Scouting that lies ahead. One sip, one cup is never enough, but it is most certainly worth enjoying every drop!
With assistance from Michael Alberts, Bay-Lakes Council Field Director