by Emiliano Herrera, Pack 1928 Cubmaster, Sam Houston Area Council
It is a hectic Thursday night. If you’re a parent – you know the kind.
As I buckle our two-year-old into the car, my wife gets a snack for our four-year-old son. We all pile into the van. Thursday night, a Cub Scout night, a typical crazy Thursday for our family. Tonight is special as 29 boys are making rank as a result of hard work on their adventures throughout the year to make it as either a Tiger, Wolf, Bear or Webelo Scout. My child’s Scouting journey began four years ago and throughout that time, I have been called to support him and his friends as a den leader, assistant cubmaster and now cubmaster. Tonight, he will earn his Webelos rank, just a few short months away from being a Boy Scout. I stand next to him, I am proud.
Scouting has impacted how I am a father to my kids. Before I share how, I first have to go back to the beginning of our family of six. Ten years ago, when my oldest son was born, I held him for the first time and thought to myself, “How am I going to raise this child and teach him everything he needs to know?” It was a moment of fear that – as a father – I was going to be responsible for being his teacher, his guide, and serve as a leader to my little tribe. Any other profession requires years of training, but to be a father, I had to rely on what my dad taught me. Could I remember those important life lessons growing up as the youngest of seven in New Mexico? That day, I remember wanting happiness for my son. I wanted him to be surrounded by people who love him. I wanted him to know who he was and to become an adult willing to help others – and to know how to help himself.
Years later, I was sitting in mass when they announced, “sign up for Cub Scouts after services.” To this day, our Thursdays have never been the same.
Scouts has changed the way I father my children. We gather once a week to discuss an adventure the kids are working through to make rank. It could be learning about aerodynamics through paper airplanes, or a Scout’s duty to God through service to the community. One week we discussed preparing for a camping excursion. The conversation meandered through items to take, weather to watch out for, etc. The next week we’d go camping and learn about keeping food covered from critters, or that scary stories don’t make it easy to sleep in a tent. These experiences are opportunities for connection. Connection my son will have to friends through memories of making s’mores and going on night hikes to see the stars. Connection that I have to parents who are struggling with the real work of raising kids. Connection that my kids and I will have to nature and the wonder of the world. Connection to people that watch out for my son and love him.
Scouting also fosters community. Not just the obvious community of boys within a den and a pack, but to the extended community of Scouting. Rangers, law enforcement, and naturalists who want to share their passion for fishing, archery, fossils, the weather, and more with willing children. The community that my son is surrounded with helps him to grow in his knowledge and understanding of different professions. Scouting cultivates a community where my son can make mistakes and learn from them. I remember when he lost a Pinewood Derby race and wanted to cry. Before I could get to him, other dads and Cub Scouts had him calm and ready for the next race.
Charity is an important way of connecting with others in our community who may need us. It reminds us that we have needs and we can help others too. One such opportunity, Scouting for Food, where communities donate canned goods to help stock food pantries in their areas. My son walks through neighborhoods asking for assistance and we reflect as a family on what we have and what we can give. We talk about what it might mean to go without. Scouting cultivates charity.
When I think about the Scout Oath: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,” I go back to that first night as a father holding my newborn. Emi is happy, he has connection to others, he is part of a community, and he is learning to help others and help himself. I couldn’t ask for better fatherhood training than to be surrounded by other adults who share similar values and are willing to share their parenting journey with me and my family. Scouting has given me the opportunity to answer all those questions I had ten years ago in the delivery room. This time I am not afraid, I am prepared.