Saturday, March 19, 2016

Boys In Blue And Gold

I saw Matt's picture on Facebook last night and it brought back some wonderful memories. Matt was my student and a terrific one in Tennessee where I taught his lovely sisters as well. His mom, Dianne, is one of my absolute favorite colleagues to teach with and his dad, Mike, is a Godly Christian brother. Matt is married to the amazing Cecile who I think I've met but I'm not quite sure. They have two sons and are huge Tennessee Vols fans. But the memories kindled weren't about Matt's family or school stuff or Rocky Top or anything ORANGE related. But, the nostalgia was tied to colors. You see, the post on Cecile's Facebook page on Friday evening was about Matt pinning an award on one of their sons at the annual Cub Scout Blue And Gold Banquet,   And that opened the floodgates of the past to me and once again led me to that place in my mind where I'm the only person allowed and I always find joy.

That's me at the top of the page. It was shot in front Gerald Helm's house in York, Nebraska during the three or so years I was a Cub Scout. I took it out of a scrapbook my mom made for me and it's the only picture I know of me in a Scout uniform. I never made the move on to the next logical step of Boy Scouts- sports and working got in the way- but I made it through Bobcats, Tiger/Wolf/Bear badges and through WEBELOS, an acronym for We'll Be Loyal Scouts. And I loved the Blue and Gold Banquets, a yearly potluck dinner celebration of accomplishments, sometimes held in church buildings and other times at the York County Fair Grounds. It was a really big deal to me and maybe because my parents allowed it to be a big deal. I hope Matt and Cecile's son feels the same way I did a few decades ago.

Truthfully, my Cub Scout recollections are hazy at best. I can't really tell you who was in my den or my pack- I'm not even sure if my brothers were Cub Scouts. But I know we could wear our blue shirts with gold bandanna tie to school on days of meetings which were always held at one of the Cub Scout's houses in our den and the dens were broken down by what school you attended. My favorite part, though, is that for at least a year, Mom was our den mother. We lived on the outskirts of town which gave us plenty of room to run around, a big plus for boys. I also remember that when they had a meeting of the Pack leaders, all guys, Mom strictly enforced the NO SMOKING rule in the house. One more thing about Mom. There were one or two boys in our den who would not go home when it was time to go home and mom inevitably asked them to stay for supper which inevitably was tuna casserole. It used to irritate me but now I realize they might have received more attention from my parents than from their own. Mom and Dad taught us even when they didn't know we were watching.

I said my memories were foggy but there is one thing about which I will always be crystal clear: the Cub Scout pledge. Reciting it is still as easy as Jesus Loves Me or the ABCs.
"I, Steve Hawley, promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to be square and obey the law of the pack."
Maybe the pledge has changed over the years but what I memorized back then is still pretty good stuff for a boy to learn. Obedience to God. Be a good citizen. Be fair and kind to others. I would have been fine without Cub Scouts- I was learning it at home anyway- but the experience reinforced what my parents modeled on a daily basis, and I know the same is true for Matt and Cecile and their young man. Many kids now  don't have that same blessing, either in a family unit or a scouting community.  I knew I was loved and protected and prayed for. Bless those who reach out to the unwatched and unattended and uncherished in our society. They might be teachers or coaches or ministers or relatives or den mothers and Pack leaders. But they matter, even to the kids who are not at risk. To those of you, I say thanks. You deserve a banquet all your own.

Applicable quote of the day:
" 'Do Your Best' (the Cub Scout motto), 'Be Prepared' (the Boy Scout motto), 'Duty to God and Country'. They stand for all that is good about our country."      Ike Skelton, U.S. Representative, Missouri

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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