Twenty years ago, when I worked in a lumber yard in Melrose, a salesman came in to speak to one of the owners. I explained that she was busy at the moment but should be available in a minute or two. We started small talk and he began telling me about his kids and family. He asked me how many kids I had. Without hesitation I told him that I had twenty boys, and then walked away because the owner had arrived. After seeing the shocked look on his face she had to explain to him that I was single, had no children of my own, and that I was talking about the boys in my Boy Scout troop. It was a great moment.
Twenty years later, I am still single without any kids. Just like Lem Siddens in the movie Follow Me Boys I consider the Boy Scouts to be my boys. I like to joke with people that I have a great arrangement. “When I want some kids in the house I make a few phone calls. When I am tired of them I send them home.”
Once in a while, I find myself talking to someone new. When they find out I am a scoutmaster they will usually ask me, “How old are your boys?” When I tell them I do not have any, they give me a look that seems to say, “Are you crazy? Why are you a scoutmaster if you do not have any boys in the program?”
Sometimes I ask myself that very question. The simple answer is that I believe in the program. I always have. After nearly three decades of being a Scout leader I can honestly say that I have seen the good that come from Scouting. I wish more boys would try Scouting. I think they would find that they would enjoy the program and actually have fun learning new skills.
I also think that more parents should consider Scouting as a program for their sons and family. Many parents do not understand the benefits of the program, which really is a shame. I think it is encouraging that the National Office plans to increase the promotion of the Scouting programs.
There have been nearly 250 boys in my extended family over the decades. There have been a lot of movies watched, pizzas eaten, and Dungeons and Dragons games played. I have been to dozens of graduation parties, and even several weddings. I have seen the boys grow up, begin lives of their own, get married, and start their own families.
Yep, the Boy Scouts are my boys. And in most cases, they are also great friends.