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Father/Son Bonding

I was a Cub Scout for a couple of months as a kid. I'm not exactly sure how old I was, but I remember that I didn't continue on the path of Scouting due to the lack of men involved in our troop. My mom wanted me to join Scouts because I didn't have a strong male influence around, and she figured I'd found it in the Scout program. Instead, she found that the leaders of our local troop were all women, and pulled me out after a while.

I don't remember if I liked it, I was always a shy, awkward kid, and never quite gelled with most macho stuff, like camping and the outdoors. I was far more comfortable with my books and my drawings. Come to think of it, that might have been the other major reason my mom put me in Scouts -- she could have been afraid I would never be very masculine.

But that's beside the point.

Being a home school family now, Michelle and I wanted to do as much as we could for Josiah to get interaction with kids his age, and to offer alternative adult interaction other than dear old mom and dad once in a while. We'd tossed around the idea before, so last year we took the plunge and got Josiah involved in a brand new Wolf Den starting in town.

(For those NOT involved in Scouting, the Wolf rank is the second level of Scouting, just after Tiger. Tiger is in First Grade, and Wolf is Second Grade. Bear is Third, and for Fourth and Fifth Grade, Boys are Webelos - the rank just before crossing over to full fledged Boy Scouts)

The first year was rough, I wasn't motivated to help Josiah get through his achievements, rushed him through some things, but nonetheless, he did enough to earn his Wolf Badge and Cross over to Bear. He liked it enough to continue the following year, and we even signed him up to go to Cub Scout Camp (with me tagging along) this summer, right at the end of our vacation to Washington DC.

The weekend came and went, and I'm still reeling from how much I didn't know, and how much I came to really LOVE the Scout program. My entire goal this past weekend was for Josiah to have an absolute BLAST, and I'm pretty sure that was accomplished, despite some muddy paths and a rainy night in the tent.

It was a blessing just to spend some one on one time with Josiah without interruption, discovering just how much he's grown, how much he's growing, and discovering where he thrives, and where he falters. I discovered this weekend that, if I want excellence from him, he expects it from me as well. I also discovered, that, more can be accomplished with a gentle exhortation than an angry shout.

My proud father moment? Well, my favorite one? It happened at the BB-Gun range.

The groups each had a one hour session, both days of camp, to shoot at the range, but unfortunately, on our first day, only half of the Scouts in our group got to shoot. Josiah was in that group. After a little bit of wrangling on the second day, I made sure that he got to shoot in the first group, and he shot an 18 out of 50 (with one bullseye). Not amazing, but it WAS his first time holding and firing a BB-Gun, so the bullseye was impressive enough. Regardless of anything else that could have happened, I was pretty proud of that Bullseye.

Since the majority of the boys in our group qualified for their Junior USA Shooting Team Badge on the day before, with a score of at least 35/50, Pete, the Shooting Range instructor, kept Josiah on the range for a second go around, and I sat back, holding my breath. I already told him I was proud of him, and just to "Do His Best" (Cub Scout Motto), but I was hoping he would really find his zone this time.

His first shot was a 9, just to the bottom and right of the Bullseye. Not too shabby.

Second Shot was a 7 - it was low, but not too bad.

Third Shot? Another Bullseye! His score was now 26. All he needed was a 9, and he'd qualify for a badge.

His fourth shot was another 9!! Just above and to the right of the first. Not a bad grouping, between the Bullseye and Two 9's. He was really beginning to get his sighting down.

The rest of the adults in the group were cheering him on at this point. I was smiling, trying not to cry tears of joy. He'd qualified, but Pete leaned over and told me "Don't tell him that, let's see how high he can go now."

His fifth shot was on the line between the 8 and 9, which counted as a 9, so his final score ended up being 44/50. 9 points over the required number for the badge. I wanted to pick him up and hug him. But I didn't, I just patted him on the head, squeezed his shoulder and told him he was Awesome. Because he is.

I don't know if this is really the case, but I think Josiah being in Scouts is as much for me, as it is for him. Had we not enrolled him, we wouldn't get to experience the things that he can in the Scout program, and even though I've always been proud of him, the fact that I said it in front of others, acknowledged his achievement with my approval and my pride, is something that he'll take with him for the rest of his life.

So yeah, Scouting is Awesome. I'm really excited for where this year takes him - on the path of the Bear.

(Interesting Side Note - We've been calling Josiah "Bear" since he was in the womb, so this will be a special year for us, I think...)


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