Is your Cub or Boy Scout an enthusiastic go-getter? Or do you struggle with motivation—his as well as your own? As a mother who loves the Scouting program for the fun, sense of achievement, and values it teaches boys, I have discovered eight ways to help keep Scouting exciting for you and your son.
Read the section on advancement from the Scout manual and talk about it with your son. Many different activities can fill merit badge requirements. Look through the possibilities for Scout achievements and help your son choose the ones that interest him. Then post lists of requirements around the house so that your family won’t overlook opportunities to help your Scout fulfill them.
Plan family activities around Scout requirements. Visits to museums, state capitols, dams, fish hatcheries, police and fire stations, parks, beaches, and many more places can help fulfill requirements. Family home evening activities can also double as Scout achievement activities. If your boy needs more hiking time, plan for the family to go on a hike for home evening. If he needs more outdoor cooking time, go to a park and barbecue some hamburgers. Look through his requirements for fun things that the family can do together.
Plan to fulfill some requirements during your family vacation. One family set a goal to help their son complete the bird study merit badge on their summer trip. Together they watched birds on the desert and in the mountains.
Involve relatives and family friends. If your son is going to spend time with grandparents, cousins, or family friends, look for an appropriate achievement he can work on while he’s there. Send a copy of the requirements with him. A member of our bishopric invited one of our sons and another boy in our ward to spend a week at his ranch. He had the boys bring along their Scout manuals. In addition to having fun, the boys completed the requirements for the environmental science merit badge during their visit.
Use the buddy system. Scout projects are more fun when two brothers or two friends work together. When we were going to work on Scouting requirements, I used to say to one of my sons, “Why don’t you call Donny and see if he wants to come over and work on the physical fitness skill award?”—or whatever achievement my son needed. He would scramble to make the call because the activity sounded like fun.
Another family invited several kids to come to their house to work on athletic merit badges. The boys loved it.
Use Sundays and sick days to work together on written reports and to discuss Scout projects. Our boys started or finished many achievements while they were recovering from a cold or the flu. We found that it helps to have a notebook or folder just for Scouting. That way, it’s easy for the boys to pull it out and work on achievements; and the written reports, clippings, maps, and other things they need to show merit badge counselors are all in the same place.
Work on at least two achievements at the same time—a fun one and a harder one. That way you can say, “Do this report and then we’ll go out and work on archery or look at the stars.”
Make a chart that shows your boy’s Scouting progress. Put his picture on it and post it where he can see it. The recognition and pride of accomplishment will mean everything to him. Take pictures of him in his uniform or with something related to a project he’s worked hard on.
Remember the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines.” Help your boy set goals and accomplish as much as possible while he is a young Scout. While he is excited, everything seems to be fun. But don’t become too pushy or start comparing your son or yourself to anyone else. Enjoy the values Scouting teaches and the closeness it can bring to your family.—, Bend, Oregon
Preparation = Peace
Sacrament meeting had become a dreaded three-ring circus for me now that we had six children, ages one to thirteen, and my husband, Jeff, had a calling in a college stake that took him away most of the day. Then I heard Michaelene P. Grassli, general president of the Primary, speak in general conference in October 1988. She spoke of “children at peace.” I don’t remember her exact words, but I still recall my overwhelming desire to change my feelings about sacrament meeting. I knew it needed to begin with me.
I turned to the family home evening manual (1976, p. 87) for help with planning. I found a Sabbath preparation chart and made one for our family. During the day on Saturday, we all helped with the preparations. We laid out the Sunday clothes—including the socks and hair ribbons—cleaned the house, packed the diaper bag, set the dining room table, and prepared most of the Sunday dinner. Our reward for the day’s work was a family swimming night on Saturday evening. We played games and had races in the pool. Then Jeff supervised the boys’ showers while I helped the girls. We returned home happy, clean, and tired. Already Sunday morning looked better because I knew there would be no last minute ironing, cooking, hair drying, or shoe hunting.
Next I worked on making Sunday mornings more peaceful. I got up earlier, prepared breakfast, and got dressed before I woke the children. Quiet music played as we gathered for morning prayer. I assigned the older children to help the younger children eat, get dressed, and comb their hair. After each child was ready for church, I made sure there were books for them to read or color. We left for church a few minutes early.
Once we had made these changes in our weekly preparation, I began to think about our biggest challenge: sacrament meeting. By now our sixth child had arrived, and Jeff was in the bishopric. Our children were getting used to sitting quietly as a result of family home evening and scripture study. We had even practiced at home with a watch to see how long we could sit still. But I knew that “reverence [was] more than just quietly sitting.” (Children’s Songbook, 1989, p. 31.)
I made some changes that helped the children be more reverent. I left distractions and sources of conflict, such as toys and dry cereal, at home. I allowed pencils and paper at church for note-taking. Sometimes after our Sunday meetings I gave a pop quiz during dinner. Other times I gave the children several words or phrases, such as scriptures or mission, before sacrament meeting and asked them to keep track of how many times they heard these words. I learned in advance what hymns we would be singing in sacrament meeting, and we practiced singing these hymns during the week before they were to be sung at church.
Of course, this preparation has taken a long time to incorporate into our family. We still have bad days, and sometimes I am impatient. But the feelings of peace, love, and joy continue to increase. Sacrament meeting is now becoming the spiritual highlight that it should be.—, Ogden, Utah
“Whose turn is it tonight?” our young son hopefully queries. He enjoyed time alone with us last week, but hopes we have lost track.
In our large family, the hectic pace of everyday living makes it easy for my husband and me to lump our children together into one noisy, busy brood. Often a child’s individuality gets lost in the group. To combat that tendency, every Monday at the conclusion of family home evening, we allow one child to design for himself or herself—and the parent of choice—a “turn.” Our love for each child increases as we delight in the personality and preferences that make him or her different from the others.
Our teenage young lady with an undeniable flair for fashion finds that her turn is a time to convert Mom to the wonderful world of style. It’s amazing what good shopping-mall partners a mother and daughter can become when there are no little brothers pulling things off the hangers and hiding under the heap of clothes that results!
Our teenage son, who has a fondness for fast cars, finds terrific comradery with a dad who is too often preoccupied with the realities of the telephone bill and the trash that didn’t get put out. One evening, after watching my husband and son take two test drives around the block in a bright red sports car, I wondered if my son’s turn was for his benefit or his father’s!
Our middle child, who is six years old, doesn’t talk as loudly or as often as his chatty older sisters, and he has outgrown the privilege of whining for attention like his younger brothers. But he comes to life with an evening he can tailor. I don’t think he’ll ever forget the time he challenged his dad to a chess contest over a bowl of frozen yogurt. The women at the yogurt store were so enchanted that they added a topping for free!
One daughter relishes the quiet—a rare commodity in the cacophony of a large family. Her idea of a perfect turn is to take a flashlight walk, hand in hand with her daddy. The evening is a real success if they can catch a glimpse of a rabbit or a mouse mesmerized by the beam of their searching flashlights.
Another daughter craves an undistracted audience. She accumulates passages from her favorite books and her own poetry—as well as high-velocity conversation—for the entire six weeks prior to her turn. She unleashes it all with a burst of energy the moment the invited parent says “Go.” Her turn needs no designated activity, and location is insignificant.
The children’s turns are never expensive and rarely require planning. The critical ingredients for a successful turn are an individual child and a parent who is eager to listen, love, and enjoy.—, Irvine, California
One Memory at a Time
“I will have to put that in my life story,” I used to think whenever I had a memorable experience. But it seemed I could never follow through on my good intentions; every time I tried to write about my life in an organized fashion, I ended up frustrated.
Then I was inspired to simply write down my memories as they come. When something triggers a special remembrance, I make a note to include it in my “Memory Book”. Sometimes it is several days before I have time to actually record the experience, but I have found that it usually makes it to the written page.
My book includes stories of my childhood, my family, and days that have brought me joy. I have also added remembrances from my husband and children. The length of my entries ranges from one sentence to more than a page.
I plan one day to organize my book chronologically. But for now, I am preserving memories I would never have thought to include in my life story, and I have a journal of sorts as well.—, American Fork, Utah