Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Life as a Den Leader: Supertrip 2011

Way back in August, I somehow ended up volunteering to be the den leader of Reese's Tiger Cub den. I'll admit that during the first few months I alternated between feeling overwhelmed and half-way competent (though never totally on top of my game). Lately, I've been feeling half-way competent more and more often.

Basically, I've come to the realization that Tiger Cub parents are supposed to learn as much as the Tiger Cubs themselves during this first year of scouting.

Reese and I in the hangar on the Yorktown

Patriots Point, South Carolina
Pack 420 went on our annual "supertrip" this past weekend to Patriots Point, which is located right across the river from Charleston's French Quarter. It was a great opportunity for Reese and I to spend a weekend together with a bunch of other scouts and scout-parents sleeping on the USS Yorktown.

On the way down, Reese was excited to be going to South Carolina. Then, he was excited to see and touch some Spanish moss. Then, he was excited to see and touch actual palm trees. And when we got into the marshy areas, he was on a vigilant lookout for alligators. For the most part, he kept this excitement up throughout the whole trip.

A few things about the Navy
These ships are not made for 6-foot tall guys who like to walk on the balls of their feet. Even on the Yorktown, I had to constantly remind myself to walk flat-footed, or I would've left the ship with multiple concussions. But even flat-footed, I still had to duck every so often. Then, there's the USS Clamagore, a submarine at Patriots Point, that gave me a nice quad-muscle workout going through it, which Reese wanted to do multiple times.

Beyond feeling too tall on the ships, there were also the bunks, which were stacked four beds high and two across (about 3 inches or so separating me from the guy on the other side of me). The bunk on top of mine had about a foot or so between my face and the bottom of the cot. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows to lay on the beds.

The view from my bunk (yes, those are my feet)

And the showers changed temperatures with each flush of the toilet. Our sailors have it rough, especially if they are taller than 6 feet.

Going to sleep at night
Imagine two boys keeping themselves up by giggling and grabbing at each other. Then, multiply that by another 30 or 40 pairs of boys. Then, imagine the first father who can ignore the giggling enough to get to sleep, and imagine this father has a distinctive snore. And if you can, imagine that this makes the boys all laugh each and every time the father snores. And, well...let's just say I was glad to get back home to Tammy on Sunday.

Final thoughts on Patriots Point
The trip really was excellent. There's nothing that makes a parent feel better than to watch one of his kids grow, and I witnessed Reese making new friends, braving new challenges, and even volunteering to leading a group of 200+ people in the pledge of allegiance. Together, we walked up and down more than 100 flights of stairs (not an exaggeration), saw several cool exhibits, learned new things about our history and marine biology, and even watched Tora! Tora! Tora! on the big screen.

In fact, Reese gave the ultimate compliment by claiming that he wants to move to South Carolina. Wow!

Duluth Police Department
For the time being, we're not moving anywhere (not even South Carolina), but I did line up another tour for all the Tiger Cub dens (there are two others besides my own). We went there last night, and it was a fun experience. I think several of the boys (including Reese) started the tour a little afraid they'd somehow get "locked up" while they were there, but all of them seemed to have a lot of fun.

This tour was most significant for me as a den leader, because it completed the Tiger Cub requirements for three of my five scouts. (Two of them still need to make up an earlier requirement they missed.) I couldn't be any happier or feel any more half-way competent.


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Caren E. Salas said...

What a great dad! These are the things your son will remember all his life. Really. My dad was a Boy Scout leader and a few times I was allowed to go on back-packing trips with the troop. (I had my own tent of course) I guess I was a bit of a tom-boy, but I could catch lizards with the best of them. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything!

Anonymous said...

You have earned saint-like status in my eyes. 30 or 40 pairs of giggling boys, and a happily snoring dad? Oh, yeah. Like Caren said, this will be a treasured memory for your son. Good on you!

P.S. Is that an acutal den leader shirt/uniform I spy in picture #1? If so, even more kudos.

Anonymous said...

You have described to a T what it's like to be a new Cub Scout leader, let alone parent. And congrats--you have met yourself half-way, and that's the BEST way to be a Cub leader! It's always best when the leader and parent have just as much fun as the boys (even when they don't get to sleep much) ;D

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Caren, I was thinking about this recently. I really loved the one year that my father coached our T-ball team. It meant a lot to me, so hopefully my involvement in Scouts produces the same effect for Reese.

Amanda, I left out--for the sake of brevity--a lot of the night-time shenanigans, but yeah, it was something else. Also, that IS a den leader shirt. Gotta dress the part and lead by example.

Colette, it has been a lot of fun--and humbling. I now feel like the boys in Den 2 are MY boys (at least at den and pack activities). It's super cool to be called, "Mr. Robert," by a gang of six- and seven-year-olds.