(Historic fiction inspired by comments on this post – have you ever had a call like this?)
After a weekend camping trip a twelve year-old Scout throws his pack into the trunk and gets in the car.
His parent asks, “So, what did you do this weekend? Did you get a lot of work done? Was it fun?”
He rubs his eyes, “It was great, we cooked a lot and then we ate, and we played some games and walked around,” he yawns, “Mostly we cooked stuff and cleaned up and kind of sat around the fire.”
The parent pauses, “Didn’t you do some advancement requirements?”
Stifling another yawn the Scout replies, “Uh… well… I don’t know… Maybe? It really wasn’t that kind of trip.”
The parent tightens their grip on the steering wheel, “But you had fun, right?”
Just before he nods off to sleep the Scout mumbles, “Yeah, it was really good.”
Once they get home the car is unloaded and the Scout gets something (more likely several somethings) from the kitchen and heads off to his room. They will have to wake him up to come down to dinner.
The parent finds my phone number.
As I am limping through the back door trying to carry all the stuff I took camping at once (this almost never works) the phone rings.
My wife and I exchange a quick greeting and a knowing look.
We get this phone call from time to time. I grab the phone and say hello.
After the niceties of “Hello, how are you,” here it comes, “I am a little concerned that the Scouts didn’t do any advancement work this weekend.”
I kick off my boots. A hot shower will feel pretty good. I rub my feet, “Well, the Scouts prepared for the weekend by planning their menus, buying food, packing their gear, organizing the transportation, and planning the trip. When they arrived they chose a campsite, set up their tents, built a campfire, had a campfire program and did some skits, sang some songs. They cut firewood, fetched water, cooked their meals, cleaned them up, they went on a hike, played a compass game, they applied some first aid knowledge, they looked at the stars, they laid on their backs in the sun, they played capture the flag, they knocked around and talked – from where I was I saw lots of activity…”
I am interrupted with, “Wait a minute, where were you?”
My wife has hands me a cup of coffee. Things are looking up, “We were camped nearby and we could see and hear the Scouts… well at least we could hear them.”
Silence. “You mean to tell me they were unsupervised?!”
I swallow a sip of coffee and eye the Sunday paper, it will have to wait, “There were some very capable older boys looking after them and we checked in regularly – they were far enough away to do things for themselves and close enough we could keep an eye on them. They had a few questions for us but didn’t need much in the way of assistance from the adults this weekend.”
There’s an audible sigh, “Well, I’m upset that he went on this weekend and didn’t accomplish anything.”
I sneak a peek at the travel section. Russia? Sounds like a nice place to be about now.
I take a deep breath, “Tell you what.. get him to bring his handbook to the meeting tomorrow night and get his patrol leader to sign off any requirements he may have completed this weekend.”
The parent thinks about this for a second, “I have been after him to do that, he keeps forgetting. Maybe I should come with him and make sure this get’s taken care of.”
A chill runs down my spine, “Don’t worry, he’ll figure it out how this all works sooner or later – when he does you won’t be able to stop him. If you come in and do this for him tomorrow night he’ll wait until you do it for him again. I know this may not make a lot of sense right now but I’ve seen it happen many, many times.”
“I just don’t want him to waste a weekend where he could be doing homework or some extra credit work for School. I’d appreciate it if you could help him get his advancements signed off.”
I mumble, ” Uum, um,” I’m two paragraphs into the article on travel in Russia. It’s looking like a much better place to be at the moment, “Well I’ll put a word in the ear of a couple of the older Scouts tomorrow night. They do a much better job of getting things like this taken care of than you or I.”
“Well, thank you.”
“You are certainly welcomed, call anytime.”