Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

This past weekend there was a small gathering in the basement of St. John’s Church. There was angst. There was an attention to the most minute detail. There was a great deal of cheering. This past weekend the Pinewood Derby was held for Cub Scouts in Brunswick.

Those Scouts who won their races were heralded and will move onto the next round to meet Scouts from all over southern Maine. However, those Scouts who did not win were given praise for the cars that were made and raced over the course of the morning. All of the Scouts who participated enjoyed the camaraderie of the other Scouts and work that went into all of the cars. That was the true intent of the Derby and Scouting in general.

In all honesty, prior to two years ago, I was unsure what Scouts were all about. I was never a Cub Scout or a Boy Scout. What they did and where they did it was foreign to me. On a whim I thought my two boys would like it, so we went to an organizational meeting. From that one meeting we were all hooked. Trips, meetings, badges and yes, cars, were what is talked about in our household.

In those two years, our boys have become more self-aware and better able to care for themselves in the woods and in their daily settings. They have made new friends and they have gained many skills. Joining Scouts was the most positive decision that their Mom and I made for them.

If this was all that we have learned from Scouts that would be enough, but a lesser known, but no less important advantage that Scouts has is the exceptional adult leadership that exists in Brunswick. In talking to some of the great leaders, both men and women who share their time with the Scouts in their charge, it was apparent that they learn as much from the boys as they the boys learn from them.

Mike L’Abbe, one of Pack 648’s adult leaders, was quick to point out that the adults learn as much if not more that the youngsters in their group. Mike is one of the most charismatic and upbeat people I have ever met. It is that nature that brings the Scouts to him. Whether he is leading the group in song or a challenging 5- mile hike, Mike makes every Scout feel like they are the best person for each job.

The lessons that are learned from Scouts is not unique in any way, but Mike L’Abbe recounted a situation from a camping trip recently that typifies the average Scout and what they can overcome.

“I remember the young men who ran this weekend’s campout when they were scared to get in front of a group. Scouts make friends because the youth are meeting challenges together. It can be as simple as hauling wood or making dinner, but it works.”

For other leaders like John Tower of Cub Scout Pack 648, his adventure in Scouting began at the same time as one of his sons. John, whose son would not think of joining Scouts without his Dad, has seen the appreciation for the things that Scouts has done for his children and so many others.

“Scouting has provided a sense of community within the greater town community. Scouting teaches to work for a goal and achieve it. Scouting teaches real life skills and being a part of something bigger. Scouting also helps build confidence in our boys.”

In a world today where millions of children grow up without a positive male role model in their lives Scouting can also provide that one relationship as well. Scouts can see adults being polite towards one another, being respectful of people and the surroundings and get a sense of how one can act.

Scouting also forces the Scouts to become unplugged from modern conveniences. No iPhones, iPads or the like. For some Scouts this can be a daunting task but nonetheless a worthwhile endeavor.

Some of the messages that our boys and young men are given can be confusing. Should they choose to act in an aggressive manner like so many that they see on television? Right within their view is a very positive and respectful model being demonstrated every day. For anyone who wonders if being part of the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts is worthwhile, I can answer yes. Your sons will thank you later.

That’s my two cents…


Jonathan Crimmins lives in Brunswick.

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