When my son was in first grade, he brought home a paper about Cub Scout sign-ups. He said he wanted to join, so I said okay. I thought it would be a good experience for him. My husband was his akela when he was a tiger cub. I did not attend the den meetings, but did attend the pack meetings.
My children are involved in many activities, and I can honestly say that I have never seen this many poor-behaved children in any of their other activities. I found it ironic, that in the one activity that is supposed to build character, that so many of the children were rude and disobedient. I soon learned that this was probably in direct relation to their fathers.
When I attended the pinewood derby race, I was quite disturbed. Looking at the entries, it was immediately apparent that the young scouts did not have much of a hand in making the cars. Most of the fathers were circled around the aerodynamic cars painted to perfection. I could overhear them saying, “That one is mine.” Huh, isn’t this a Cub Scout activity? When the races were going on, I would hear grown men whine that the races weren’t fair and also even hear them “boo” at some of the cars. Is this the sense of sportsmanship that we wish to instill in our children?
And nowadays, packs do not only have the traditional pinewood derby car race, but also the space derby and the rain gutter regatta. I believe that all these father/son bonding experiences were more about the mens’ competitiveness than the boys’ feelings, at least in the pack that my son is a member of.
This year, due to my husband’s work schedule, I act as my son’s akela during den meetings. So now, I not only get to see this behavior once a month, but I get to see it every week. A few of the boys run around in complete disregard to what the den leader or their parents say. When the scouts are doing an activity, a few of the fathers are doing the projects without even letting the children help. Not that the kids seem to care, since they are off wrestling or doing other inappropriate things.
In all fairness, my son has learned a few things in Cub Scouts. He has really enjoyed some of the activities they have done. He also enjoys working with my husband on the derby car and other things. His car might not win, and it might not look perfect, but it is his and it looks like a car that an eight year old would design and decorate. I will allow my son to continue in scouts as long as he desires unless he starts acting like some of the boys there. Right now I use it as a teaching tool. When we drive home, I will ask, “Do you think those boys were acting appropriate? Why not?” This leads to discussions about how children should act.
I hope if your son chooses to join the Cub Scouts that you insure that the experience is his, and not his father’s. May your experience with scouting be better than mine.