When I had my first son, I didn’t realize someday he would turn eight and I would have to learn about Cub Scout Bobcats, Wolves, and Bears. By the time I had my sixth boy, I was dodging the bishop, hoping he wasn’t thinking how wonderful I’d look in a blue and gold den mother’s uniform. But my soft heart betrayed me. I couldn’t stand to see my nine-year-old leave every week, Bear book in hand, only to show up 15 minutes later and announce dejectedly, “No Scouts again this week.” So one afternoon I took a deep breath and volunteered to help with a den. The Scout committee chairman beamed.
“That would be fine, Sister Voorhies, just fine. How about beginning this Wednesday? Only nine boys in that group. I’m sure you’ll just love it!” Ten minutes later the bishopric counselor in charge of Cub Scouts showed up. He called me to serve as a den mother, produced a registration form, and made it official in three minutes flat.
Over time I grew to appreciate hand-me-down uniforms with tiny needle tracks marking the patches older brothers had earned and moms had removed for the younger sons. I got used to repeating instructions 10 times—once for each boy and once for my six-year-old daughter, who insisted that she was a member of the den.
Together we learned first aid, bike safety, and woodworking skills. We visited the state capitol, the zoo, and the fire station. We were rained out at Cub Country day camp, awarded a prize at the annual Scout-O-Rama, and laughed off the stage during a skit we wrote for pack meeting.
However, there’s one project we’ll never forget—painting the fire hydrants in our ward. Our Cubmaster issued us red paint, I gave each of the boys an old work shirt to protect his clothes, and we were off. Never was paint spread with such enthusiasm. “We want the stake president to notice how good they look,” one boy said.
When the boys finished the hydrants, they started on each other, and soon laughter and paint were everywhere. It took us an hour and a half to clean up. Now when I pass those hydrants, I am always surprised to find I feel a sense of accomplishment that few other things in my life have been able to match. I see again those laughing, paint-blotched faces, and I get a glimpse of the unencumbered happiness I thought I had left behind with childhood.
The Sunday after our fire hydrant project, our ward honored its very first Eagle Scout. As I watched my Cubs proudly carry the flags to the podium, I thought about what they were capable of becoming. I don’t think it really mattered to me if they all became Eagle Scouts, but I did care that they fulfilled their duties to God and their country, that they learned to serve other people, and that they did the best they could. So I just kept putting up with the noise, the confusion, and the childish jokes because I liked having a hand in their future, and of course I had five more sons waiting to become Cub Scouts.