Several years ago our troop held a weekend camping trip at a public park at Lake Koronis in Minnesota. Activities included swimming, volleyball, football, and a massive water balloon fight. A few fathers attended this activity to provide leadership and transportation. This camp location was so popular that Scouts of all ages were in attendance. We had an excellent turnout.
The outing was a blast! Everyone, Scouts and adults, had a great time. As we sat around the campfire Saturday evening I asked the campers what they liked best about the outing. One of the older Scouts gave me an answer that caught me by surprise, and it is something I have never forgotten. His highlight was when the fathers played football with them (the Scouts). I saw a few other boys nodding their heads in agreement.
That simple statement hit a nerve with me. It suddenly occurred to me how seldom today’s teens get to play with their fathers. Teenage boys love to play. It is a part of their nature, part of how they identify themselves, part of how they learn to cooperate with others.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, fathers do not seem to have enough time to play with their sons. They work long hours, have more work to do when they get home, and often are too tired in the evening to do much more then sit in front of the television with the kids. Oh, and mom would like a little of his time also. Of course, this assumes that there is a father living at home.
Today’s teenage boys are not much better. They spend half of their day in school. Many are involved in school sports or some other extracurricular activity. Some have part time jobs. They need to spend time with their buddies, and maybe even with a girlfriend. Then add video games and the internet into the mixture.
Each generation has their excuses for not spending time with other, which made the impact of the Scout’s statement that weekend all that much stronger to me.
Hey Dad! You need to get out and play with your son! He will only be a teenager for several years, years which pass by very quickly. He will soon be leaving to go to college, make a life for himself, and probably start his own family. If you think it is hard to find time to play with him now then just think about how hard it will be once he moves out.
Hey Son! Put down that video game controller, grab a football or basketball, and take your father outside to play. Sure, it may seem like dad has forgotton how much fun it was to have fun and play, and you may need to help him relearn how to be a kid again. He has a lot on his mind but he needs to let it go once in awhile and have fun sometimes too.
This is one reason why I think Scouting is such a great program. Fathers and sons can spend time with each other outdoors and play together. Scouts, you may need to ask you father to join you on an outing or two. Dads, you need to get out of that lawn chair and run around a little. I think I can safely say that it would be a win/win situation for both generations.