Comfort and joy

Over the last few weeks, our offices at work have undergone some renovations, including removal of the 25-year-old wall coverings, painting, general cleaning and rearranging of the furniture. The good news is that I get a new office cubicle with more space and a bit more privacy, but the downside has been working in the interim in temporary quarters, jammed into a small room with several of my co-workers. (But let me be clear that my co-workers are not a downside – I happen to work with a great team that gets along very well.)

During the process, the painters had their obligatory boom-box going in the next room. Ordinarily you’d hear rock and roll or country music, but they usually had the radio tuned to the station playing Christmas music. I thought “oh brother, here come the same twelve Christmas songs over and over” and spent the rest of the day with echoes of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You rattling in my head. Six weeks of that, I told myself, is more miserable than waiting for the groundhog’s prediction to come true.

But then it occurred to me why we embrace the holiday season. Continue reading “Comfort and joy”

On gratitude

Thanksgiving has become a speed bump in the marketing cycle that starts before Halloween and continues all the way to Christmas and beyond. In the past, it marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season. In recent years, retailers have been tripping over themselves to attract customers by cutting prices and opening earlier. Forget about opening at the usual hour of nine or ten AM on what has come to be called Black Friday. Midnight is no longer early enough as evidenced by some of the big stores opening up Thanksgiving evening and even late in the afternoon. (But, kudos to REI Co-Op, outdoor retailer and favorite supplier of Scouts, for giving its associates Friday off to go out and appreciate the outdoors.)

The holiday itself features parades, football games and gut-busting dinners shared around a table with families, with all the friction you might expect. Continue reading “On gratitude”

Combining committees

One of the most persistent problems in keeping a troop or pack going is obtaining sufficient adult leadership to get all the various jobs covered without causing burnout of the small group of people who usually get stuck with everything.

It’s often advised to make sure each committee role is covered, and in a Cub Scout pack, to ensure that den leaders (and the Cubmaster) aren’t doing committee-type things.

Troops are usually better off, because parents are more familiar with Scouting after going through it as their sons grew, and they see the value in the program and the need to get things accomplished. Or perhaps it finally dawns on them that nobody else is going to do the work, and the pack or troop can only go when supported by enough volunteers.

One solution, as suggested by a reader, is to combine the pack and troop committees for units that are chartered by the same organization. Continue reading “Combining committees”

Family Scouting is on the way!

By now you have heard that the Boy Scouts of America will begin to allow Cub Scout packs to register girls beginning next fall, and a program for older girls is on the way as well.

This is a long-awaited (and long-feared) advance in our programs. Embraced by many, it’s also criticized by some who fear the erosion of our “traditional” values. But experts up and down have endorsed the concept as a way to unite families and make Scouting more convenient for today’s families fragmented by diverse schedules and activities.

The core of the apple is this: Continue reading “Family Scouting is on the way!”