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Scouting for the Whole Family

by Bryan Milliere - The Leader - Network - April 1996

Children and adults who "Scout" together often develop long-lasting friendships. Why does this rapport survive long after their involvement with Scouting, even when people move out of the community? It's because our recipe for close fellowship includes common values and interests, combined with the experience of meeting challenges together.

In many families, everyone enjoys Scouting. In some, Scouting is a passion savoured by several members without support from others. Not every person has to be fully involved for the affects to benefit the entire family.

Family Matters

How can leaders help make Scouting a family affair? Family members may have diverse interests, but share similar values. Encourage individual members to pursue their own interests and celebrate each other's achievements.

Involve children early by bringing them to activities and camps. Some groups plan family activities such as picnics and banquets. This makes everyone feel welcome. At these events, recognize leaders for their contributions and youth for their achievements; this way whole families share in the accomplishments. After all, a supportive spouse and flexible siblings make it possible for members to pursue their Scouting interests.

Invite another Scouting family over for a barbecue. What a great opportunity to share fun stories of a Beaveree or the last camping trip! You could show photos or a recent camp video. Non-Scouting spouses might make new acquaintances. Or, as they watch their children playing with kids who share similar values, parents may better appreciate why other adults are drawn into the Movement.

Back at the Ranch

Scouters sometimes forget that while they were having a great time at a Scouting activity, weekend camp or training event, their family was living its own challenges and experiences. Before you share every minute of your weekend in vivid detail, take ten minutes upon your return to find out what happened back home. It'll go a long way to warming your home for the Scouting story. No matter how well you tell them, some stories don't make sense to a person who wasn't there. Keep those to retell over the next campfire.

Mastering a skill or overcoming a challenge brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment and boosts your self-esteem. This personal growth should have benefits for your entire family. Discussing these growth experiences with your spouse will help her (or him) understand and get involved. People shometimes find change worrisome when they don't understand it. Encourage all family members to challenge themselves in ways that help them recognize and develop their own strengths.

Too Much of a Good Thing

If you find that your family benefits less from Scouting than the kids you work with, it might be time to start saying "no" to more responsibilities. Maintain a healthy balance between community work and home life; this will foster growth in both areas.

Even your own child, as a member of the section you lead, may find she receives less attention than she did before Dad became a leader. Beaver and Cub aged children may need particular reassurance that they aren't forgotten when Dad or Mom tries to provide leadership to the whole colony or pack.

In small groups and one-to-one settings, Scouting activities can provide common interests for parent-child relationships. Working on badges together provides a great opportunity for individual attention. Other activities furnish a family experience. Why not plan a hike together for your whole family to enjoy?

Summer Hiatus

Summer provides a natural break from weekly meeting routines. Kick back and reflect on the difficulties and experiences of providing fun, safe, educational and challenging programs. Thank your family members for their support and patience. Apply some of your heightened creativity and enthusiasm to a family vacation. Those organizational skills used for weekend camps come in handy for family trips or activities.

Thanks for the Memories

You may not hear appreciation from youth and their parents until long after children leave your section. One day you'll be sauntering down the aisle in a grocery store or walking briskly down the street. A kid will stop you and say, "Hey Scouter, remember me? I was in your colony. We had a great time didn't we? Thanks."

By maintaining a balance between Scouting and family commitments, you'll ensure your family also holds fond memories of your Scouting involvement.

"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."

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