September 14, 2020
Filed In: Fatherhood
I came up in the Boy Scouts program, rising from the 1st Grade Tigers program to the rank of Eagle Scout. Along the trail, I learned many life skills. That achievement was a direct result of the constant support of my parents as I progressed through the ranks. As a military child who moved frequently, Scouts formed the third pillar of external stability in my life, aside from Church and school. No matter where we went, the Scouts were there.
Back in 2013, I was an employee of the Boy Scouts when they began their bazaar series of reversals. To that point, I dreamed of the day that I would lead Benedict’s den in Cub Scouts and beyond. I imagined him following in my steps and starting our own family line of Eagle Scouts. It became clear to me, even in those early days of the crisis, that the venerable institution of the Boy Scouts was collapsing under the weight of a cultural tsunami. Lacking an alignment of values, I walked away from the organization, never to return.
In that same year, I followed with excitement the answer to this collapse. The Troops of St. George was founded with a unique take on a traditional outdoors character development program for boys. It’s more than just being Catholic-specific. The truly revolutionary concept that the Troops embraced was that instead of being a drop-off program, it’s a drop-in program. Fathers participate and advance in tandem with their sons. The meetings, camp-outs, and activities have specific time for fathers and sons to work together, apart from other families. This is about more than building characters or building men, it’s about providing a context and space for the father/son relationship to be cultivated and deepened.
Benedict and I joined a local troop earlier this year. We made it on one campout before lock-downs prematurely ended the program year. While we were only out for one night, I immediately noticed a difference in our relationship. Out of the house, away from his sisters, he was a totally different person. He was over-the-moon excited, especially for celebrating Mass in a field under the tent. To be frank, he’s a really cool kid. That experience gave me the chance to see my son as he truly is, and it was a delight.
I volunteered to help lead the program. In that way, I’m fulfilling my dream of leading Benedict through a character development program. The skills that I acquired as a volunteer and a professional in the Boy Scouts has helped us as we get our Troop organized. Although the Scouts are an organization that I no longer recognize, the values that they espoused while I was in the program are durable.
Parenting is difficult for all fathers. We begin the challenge when we still view ourselves as young and inexperienced. With the help of other adults, programs, and institutions, we’re aided in our mission. As a father of a son, I’ve found the Troops of St. George to be particularly helpful in my vocation to raise him as a man.