The fourteenth 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.
A Season of Giving . . . and Giving Permission

​​As we approach the third winter of COVID with all of its lessons, we are also immersed in the holiday season, a time of great joy, cheerful encounters with friends and strangers, gift giving and receiving, and celebration. It is also a time of much hustle and bustle as our youth work to complete schoolwork before the holiday break, participate in sporting events, concerts and other programs in school, at church and temple, and in the community. COVID has certainly been challenging, but the lessons of remote meetings and gatherings have brought distant relatives and friends closer together, reshaped the workplace for many, and have taught the importance of time, family, health and quality of life. We have much for which to be thankful.

This is indeed a season of giving. As we take advantage of sales and find just the right gift to give to a family member or friend, we also give back to the community through adopting families in need, food donations, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, providing service to a neighbor or complete stranger. Scouts have a long tradition of sharing their time and talent in service to others, and hopefully your Pack, Troop of Crew has incorporated service into your programming this season. What better way to teach our youth to understand and appreciate the needs of many in our midst, the cultural traditions that find meaning this season, and the value of teamwork and friendship through Scouting than to take advantage of the many ways we may help other people – at all times!

There is another way of giving this season, one we might not consider often. Scouting knows no season, yet for many of us, we think and plan in cycles that revolve around the school year. We welcomed many new families into Scouting this fall and are enjoying a richer and more meaningful Scouting experience through their fresh eyes and broad smiles. But membership is not limited to the beginning of the school year, nor to children in Kindergarten and First Grade. Indeed, Scouts can gain much from Scouting by joining at any time during the year, and at any age. Indeed, January is a wonderful time to join with winter activities, exciting meetings, Pinewood Derby competition, banquets, Scouting’s Birthday, and the promise of warmer weather with outdoor activities and camping on the horizon. There is plenty of time to begin and complete advancement. Consider giving the gift of Scouting to a neighbor, friend, relative or work colleague by inviting them to join your Pack, Troop or Crew. It is the gift that gives back as your unit grows and you welcome new friends, potentially life-long friends to the adventure.

The end of the calendar year, the looming holiday season and the blessings we all share are upon us. Let us enjoy giving of ourselves in service to others, sharing time with family and friends, cherishing our own holiday and cultural traditions, and let us not forget to give ourselves permission to relax, release the stress in our lives, and focus on the things that matter. Best wishes for a meaningful and joyous holiday and let’s all look forward to a healthy, fun-filled and productive new year ahead.

Paul Shrode