So for today, I’m going to go way back to Friday and Saturday, September 29 & 30, 2006. That was the date of (I believe) the first Hopewell District Cub-o-Ree. It also was the very first Cub Scout event that Jon and I attended, having signed up maybe a week before that. Even at a scant 6 years old, Jon and I were far from novice campers; I’ve been doing it off and on my whole life since I was a wee Cub Scout in the mid-80s, and Jon went on his first camping trip at just over 12 months old. So we roll up with all our gear fitting in my external frame backpack (tent, sleeping pads and bags, miscellaneous gear and our camp chairs (we carried the camp chairs, they didn’t fit in the pack). Holy culture shock, Radioactive Man! There were pop-up campers everywhere, people with tents the size of my first apartment…it was a huge difference between the camping I was used to and what I was about to experience! Jon and I got all our stuff set up and we were ready to go.
It was a lot of fun that night. There was a big campfire with the OA guys out there (which in our district is a pretty rare thing, I haven’t seen the OA dance or drum team show up to any Cub Scout event that I’ve been a part of since the 2007 Cub-o-Ree). We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and made s’mores and overall it was pretty neat to just start meeting all the new people in the pack. Jon spent most of the night running around the campsite with his new buddies and I spent most of it sitting by the fire in my camp chair sewing patches onto Jon’s uniform. Apparently this was some sort of bright neon sign that said, “I WANT TO BE A LEADER!” I actually had no intention of becoming a leader, just being a helpful parent and spending time with Jon.
So our District Executive at the time, Steve Stephenson, came by our campsite and hung out for a half hour or so (having food helps draw in the district folks), and I got to meet and talk to him which was nice. He mentioned that the next morning there would be an “information session for new leaders or parents who want to know more about Scouting.” Since it had been 15 or so years since I was last involved with Scouts, I figured I’d like to go to that and see what had changed, if anything, since I was a youth in the Pack 19 and Troop 18. I talked to our Cubmaster and he said it would be okay for me to go to that while they took Jon with them around to the stations and I could meet up with them when the session was over. Cool.
(So anyone who is a Scout leader is probably laughing by now after the last paragraph.)
Anyway, the next morning we wake up, have our breakfast of head-sized Sam’s Club muffin and a McDonald’s sausage biscuit and get ready for a day of fun! Jon goes off with the pack while I head over to the pavillion for this information session. As I quickly found out, that “information session” was actually New Leader Essentials (the training course that was replaced by the awful This is Scouting. Taught by none other than David Hoffman. And when I walked out and rejoined the pack at activities, I was pretty much a leader.
So that, dear reader(s), is the story of how I went into my first Cub Scout activity a parent and walked out a leader. And you all have David Hoffman to thank (or blame) for that!