Archive for the ‘Scout’s Honor’ Category
You make lemonade, of course.
But if you’re a true entrepeneur, capitalist, or overachiever, you then sell that sweet-tangy nectar at your very own lemonade stand!
This summer, as part of our Brownie program for Girl Scouts, our troop was supposed to choose a project to make our community a better place. Note the use of the singular adjective: A project. One. Majority rules.
Our troop, however, could not decide on a project. No, all seven of our girls each voted for a different project. So we ended up with no majority. And you know what that means to an overachiever like me. Yep, we’re doing all seven. One per month for the entire school year. Because that’s how we roll.
So each girl now gets to take the lead role in organizing and carrying out her chosen service project. Crisana’s was to help the Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. We drove by the Samaritan Inn regularly on our way to swim lessons this summer, and we could see the number of people waiting, even in the midst of the brutal heat, to get inside. We heard about the overcrowding, the large numbers of children who were living there, and the way the Inn’s meager resources were being taxed trying to meet the needs of the most desperate in our community. Crisana decided she wanted to help. She contacted the Inn and spoke with one of the coordinators there to determine how our group of third-grade girls could make an impact.
Toilet paper and paper towels was the answer.
But I wanted this to be more than just having the girls ask their parents for money to buy toilet paper and paper towels. I wanted the girls to have some sort of investment, to make some sort of sacrifice or effort to participate. I wanted this to mean something to them. I wanted them to give, not just physically but emotionally as well.
And so was born Crisana’s lemonade stand.
She sent out an email to the neighborhood advertising her stand this past Saturday and Sunday. She spread the word through my facebook account and even sent an email to the principal at McGowen asking for permission to collect donations there. She decided to sell lemonade and cookies, and to use the profits to purchase the needed supplies for the Samaritan Inn. She set to work, making her sign, putting a tub out on our doorstep for donations, and squeezing lots and lots of lemons. With a little help from mom and a few friends, she made 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 8 dozen sugar cookies (4 of which she frosted and decorated with a single candy corn), and 8 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies. She bagged them in individual baggies and made nearly 6 gallons of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
And then we dragged it all down to the corner and set up shop.
One of her Brownie troop-mates joined us for the sale on Saturday, as well as a neighbor friend who is a Girl Scout Junior. Thanks to a neighbor, we enjoyed shade from the brutal sun both days. Thanks to other neighborhood children, we also enjoyed a nearly constant stream of customers and activity throughout the two-day event.
When it was all said and done, the pitchers were washed and the trash was bagged up and the cookies were eaten and the money was counted…we learned that she had earned a whopping $195.50. That’ll buy a lot of toilet paper.
All because a little girl had a dream…had a passion…had a heart…and a lot of help.
I think we’ve already succeeded in making our community a better place.
Okay, I admit. The ice wasn’t *that* thin. In fact, it was plenty thick. And poured over a concrete slab inside an air-conditioned mall. But still, you have to admit, the title works much better than, “You Should Really Read This Post About the First Time My Daughter Went Ice Skating.”
Last year, as outings coordinator for Crisana’s Brownie Troop, I instituted a monthly “fun” outing for the girls, appropriately named “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” The purpose of these outings were to give our girls an opportunity to do something that would encourage them to develop as friends. No goals to work toward, no lessons to be learned, no achievements to be completed…just fun times with friends. If they developed a new skill or learned a valuable life lesson or earned an award or completed an achievement, so much the better. But at its core, these activities were designed for fun, memory-making, and hopefully building lifelong friendships.
The activities last year were such a big hit that we decided to continue them this year. One of the other Troop Leaders suggested that this might be a great time of year to take advantage of ice skating, what with the record heat and drought and all. So, with the help of a groupon coupon from another Troop Mom, off we went to the great frozen tundra known as “The Ice at Stonebriar Centre.”
For most of the girls, this was their first experience on two blades. And of course, being girls, it was all about the funky socks.
The girls were all a bit wobbly and uncertain at first. I mean, this *is* Texas, after all. We don’t get much snow…unless you count the past two winters. But still, our ponds and lakes don’t freeze hard enough to skate on.
Thankfully, to the rescue came the skating lesson. It was free and about 10 minutes long, and gave the girls some specific skills and activities to work on. The girls eagerly listened and participated.
Following the lesson they all received a free pass to attend another class on a Saturday morning. They spent the rest of their skating time practicing their newly acquired skills and building their confidence.
And of course, hanging out with their friends and forging new relationships.
Because if there’s ever a time when you find yourself on thin ice, it’s good to know you’ll be surrounded by friends.
It seems the first day of school is never a big enough deal in our house. Our kids always have to find some way to top the act of kicking off a new school year.
Last year, Crisana lost a tooth on the first day of school.
So this year it was Trey’s turn.
Usually the first week of school is an easy transition back into the busy-ness of our fall routine. We deliberately keep our afternoons and evenings free and clear so that we can adjust to early morning alarm clocks, days filled with learning, and balancing homework and playtime. But this afternoon was a scramble. Unpack the backpacks. Wash out the water bottles, sandwich containers, and thermoses. Fix dinner. Eat dinner. Clean up dinner and put leftovers away. Feed the cat. Change clothes. Turn on the lights and lock the doors. Make sure the camera has fresh batteries and a free memory card. Hurry, hurry, hurry. We gotta get there on time!
See, we had a court date. A Court of Honor date. And we had some honorees we had to…um…well…honor.
First up was Trey. He was officially recognized for earning his Tenderfoot badge, the second step on the Trail to First Class…his second step toward earning Eagle Scout. As if that wasn’t enough, he earned 5 (yes, count them: FIVE) merit badges from troop activities and summer camp: photography, railroading, swimming, astronomy, and geology. His little merit badge sash no longer looks lonely or like a wanna-be, despite the fact that it’s still way too big for him.
Our next honoree was none other than Matt, who earned his “trained” patch for being officially fully trained as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America. I guess that means he can now be put in charge of stuff and be responsible for scouts. I’m still wondering if that’s a good thing or not.
I guess that means we’re also now an official scouting family!
Today was a big day in the Speer household, and I mean a BIG day. For one very excited little girl, it must have seemed bigger than Christmas, her birthday, and the last day of school all rolled into one.
Today was the day we sent Crisana – our “baby” – away to summer camp for the very first time.
She was a great helper, labeling all her clothes and getting all her gear packed. Somehow we managed to get the suitcase closed.
We arrived at the Joann Fogg Service Center in Dallas with all the necessary forms and paperwork, properly labeled medications, not to mention the girly sleeping bag, pillowcase and required stuffed animal. Crisana could hardly contain herself as we worked our way through the registration process, having her feet checked for blisters and her hair checked for lice, turning in the medications, and loading up her store account.
As I was finishing up the check-in process, I discovered Matt talking to another dad in the waiting area. Turns out, they had both worked together at Matt’s last firm. They had an 8-year-old daughter who was also attending the same session of camp, alone, that Crisana was. We introduced them and they hit it off right away. They couldn’t wait to get on the bus and load their things.
As we said good-bye, we saw them sitting together, laughing and having a great time. God gave me the peace I needed to say good-bye without any tears, the reassurance to know He was with her, and the joy of watching her take these first big steps toward independence.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was in Girl Scouts.Â She loved being in Girl Scouts, because she got to hang out with her friends.
The little girl had an older brother who was in Cub Scouts for many years.Â She had always tagged along at his events, like family campouts and hikes and visits to museums…and Pinewood Derbies.Â She longed for the day when she could make and race cars of her own.
Finally, that day came.
The little girl came up with a design all her own, with the help of her dad, to make a car like no other.Â Unlike her brother’s cars, which were build for speed and “coolness”, her car was all about design.Â And her design was all girl.Â Her dad worked hard and she helped him out until the big day arrived.
She proudly took her car to the race where it was registered and impounded until race time.Â The race officials took a picture so everyone could see her amazing car design.
She waited with eager anticipation until finally her number was called!Â It was her turn to race!Â Carefully she carried it to the starting line where the race officials placed in line with the other cars.
On your mark…Get set…GO!!Â And her car raced down the track, not very quickly because as you know, baby carriages are built for safety, not speed.Â Nevertheless, the little girl scampered down to the finish line to make sure her precious cargo arrived – intact – at the end of each heat.
The little girl’s car never did win first place in any of its races, but that was okay with the little girl.Â She was looking forward to the design competition, where she had taken first place as a Daisy Scout with her Hello Kitty pink roller skate car.Â The bar had been set pretty high and she had great big expectations.
The moment finally came when the results were announced:Â she won an Honorable Mention for design for the Brownies!Â Though it didn’t come with a trophy, the little girl was still very proud of her awesome Pink & Purple Baby Carriage car.
At least, it felt like it was.Â A whopping 116 degrees in the SHADE.Â A searing 134.5 degrees in the sun.Â Yikes.Â I don’t care if it IS a dry heat: that’s HOT!
So, why in the world was I up there?Â What in tarnation could make me believe it was worth it to climb up to the rooftop of a Nissan dealership in those scorching temperatures?Â Aside from a million dollars, or the promise of a lifetime supply of Diet Coke or chocolate, it was the next best thing: a few minutes of “fame” and the chance to talk about Scouts.
Overall, I think I rocked it…right up until the end when, much to my dismay, I realized that they had fixed the cherry picker and I would have to ride the scary contraption of death after all.Â I was so happy to get off the scary contraption of death I nearly kissed the ground.Â The nice gentleman who operated the scary contraption of death was certainly happy to have circulation restored to his arm after I released it.
The Daily Douse was a whole lot more fun.Â Especially since I could watch it from the ground.
Oh boy, did I ever blow it.Â Totally screwed up.Â Messed up big time.Â In a word: FAIL.Â And I’m completely sick over it.Â Tied up in knots.Â Lump-in-the-throat and tears-in-the-eyes.
Usually, the admitting part is not difficult for me.Â I make mistakes constantly.Â All.Â The.Â Time.Â I’m forever forgetting things, mixing dates and times up, getting my facts turned around.Â Matt is convinced that somewhere amidst the brown and grey hairs I’ve got blonde roots.Â My brothers have been known to check the air pressure inside my head.
But this time, things are a little different.Â Not only do I have to admit my mistake, I have to admit it to my daughter.
And…I have to ask for her forgiveness.
So what did I do, you ask?Â What heinous crime did I commit?Â What could possibly make me tremble at the thought of admitting I was wrong…to a 7-YEAR-OLD??
If I tell you, you might be tempted to shrug it off as “no big deal.”Â You might be tempted to offer cliche’ advice like, “don’t be so hard on yourself” or “we all make mistakes.”Â And from your perspective, you’d be right.Â But I’ve had to live with the anticipation and excitement that has built up within my daughter’s psyche for the past 12 months…and now I have to crush those dreams.Â And it’s completely my fault.
Last year, Crisana won Best Design for Daisies in the Service Unit’s Powderpuff Derby.Â She has been anticipating this year’s derby since we got in the car to go home after last year’s derby.Â She has been talking and planning and dreaming about what her design would be, choosing color schemes and pitching ideas.Â A couple of weekends ago, she and Matt sat down and sketched out her design: a baby carriage (pram).Â They even found a pink rubber ducky with a baby bonnet to fit inside it.Â She was beside herself with excitement!
And then this week, I found the email from our Troop leader reminding us about registration.Â The deadline to register had been a week earlier.Â I had missed it!Â In a panic, with all fingers and toes crossed, I quickly sent an email to ask if there was any way we could still register.Â The response came back:
We appreciate the response to such a great event. Unfortunately I have to let everyone know that the Powder puff derby is officially closed. We cannot take anymore registrations.
At that moment, I can’t begin to describe how I felt.Â How disappointed in myself I was.Â How devastated I knew Crisana would be.Â And Matt’s encouragement?Â “I’m going to let you be the one to tell her.”Â Great.Â Thanks.Â A lot.
I knew I would need to choose a time when we weren’t busy with other things.Â When we had time to deal with it.Â When I could be there to let her express her anger and disappointment, even though there would be nothing I could do to “fix” it.Â When I could just hold her, let her cry, and say “I’m sorry” over and over.
Saturday morning was the time.Â I sat with her on her bed and very humbly admitted that I had missed the registration deadline and as a result she would not be able to race a car in the Powderpuff Derby this year.Â I admitted that I had no good excuse.Â I told her how very sorry I was because I knew how much she had been looking forward to it.Â I looked into those precious blue eyes, held her stubby little hands in mine and asked sincerely for her to forgive me.
And with tears of disappointment welling up, struggling to control her quivering lip and shaking voice, she looked back at me and responded, “I forgive you, Mom.Â Because I love you.Â And you’re still a great Mom.”
At that moment, I caught just a glimpse of how great God’s love is for me.Â For you.Â For all of us.Â For all those times I come crawling back to Him, having blown it once again, having given in to that same old struggle, asking…begging…pleading for forgiveness.Â He looks at me and says, “I forgive you.Â Because I love you.”
How do I respond to that?Â I’m humbled beyond belief.Â Amazed beyond description.Â Awestruck at the magnitude of His desire for a relationship with one like me: imperfect…fallen…failing.
But still, I’m forgiven…and loved.Â And that, truly, is all that matters.
My life is busy.Â I mean CRAZY busy.Â I have my hands full with balancing work, volunteer activities, and family commitments.Â Sometimes I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew.
But then I meet someone – like a boy I’ll call Sam – and I realize the impact that one person can have.
I first met Sam last Thursday evening.Â I was in charge of organizing the Join Scouting Night event at McGowen.Â My schedule had been incredibly tight and I was so tired and wishing for an evening at home.Â But instead, I found myself in the school cafeteria, enthusiastically telling parents all the benefits and value of our scouting program.
I had finished my spiel and the parents were filling out their forms and heading home when in walked Sam and his mother.Â It was late, and we were just wrapping things up.Â I was looking forward to getting home early and inwardly groaned at the thought of having to wait for one more application.Â And when I discovered that he would be entering as a Webelos II, I had to suppress the almost audible groan.Â You see, as a Webelos II he only has until February to complete all of his requirements before he will cross over to Boy Scouts.Â As a pack, we had decided to encourage these boys to think about waiting until February to join and go directly into Boy Scouts.Â The task is not impossible – but nonetheless daunting – and requires an incredible level of commitment from both the scout and the parents.
But Sam was determined.Â He wanted to do this. I told him it was doable but not going to be easy.Â He assured me he would work hard and that yes, it was worth it to him.Â They left after turning in their app and I wasn’t sure if they’d even follow through.
Sure enough, he came to the pack meeting last night…dressed in his new shirt and carrying the Webelos handbook.Â I noticed that every time I looked at him last night he was in the middle of a crowd of boys, with a big smile on his face, laughing and talking with the other scouts in his patrol like they were best friends. His patrol performed a skit and he had a part along with the other boys.Â He looked like he was having the time of his life.
I passed by him as his class was heading to lunch today…and he saw me and just lit up.Â He rushed to tell his teacher that I was the Cub Scout leader who had signed him up.Â His teacher thought he meant I was his leader and I assured her that no, I wasn’t – he had other, terrific leaders! – but I asked him how he liked it at the pack meeting. Let me tell you, he just OOZED enthusiasm.Â He was so excited, his smile was so bright, and he said he had a BLAST.Â Then his teacher looked at me and said, “And you know how I know he enjoyed it so much?Â I have to keep telling him to put his Webelos handbook away in class.”
That, my friends, is why I do what I do.Â For the joy of a young man named Sam.Â For the smile on Sam’s face.Â For the pride in Sam’s eyes when he saw me at the Pack Meeting and couldn’t wait to show off his uniform.Â For Sam’s enthusiasm as he performed his skit and cheered the cookie raffle and laughed with his new friends.Â For all the leadership qualities and character-building Sam will experience along the scouting trail over the next few months.Â For the ripple effect that this will have in Sam’s life…impacting not only him but also his family and those around him as they watch his leaders welcome him into their patrol and make him an active part of their program.
There’s not enough money in the world that can hold a candle to the treasure I’ve just received.Â Thank you, Sam, for being my “bonus check” today.
We have had the rainiest summer EVER this year.Â Not that Iâ€™m complaining necessarily.Â But it does make it hard to go to the pool when the skies are grey and the rain is falling and the pools are, well, CLOSED.
So unlike last year, when we had the Great Pool Adventure of 2008, this year has been the year of creative indoor fun.Â Yesterday we explored new territory: the National Scout Museum, which happens to be located in Irving, just a stoneâ€™s throw away in Texas geography.
We rounded up a few friends and made the drive through the rain to get there shortly after it opened.Â I had never been there before and was keeping my fingers crossed that this would not be some stuffy, dusty, musty museum full of ancient relics and endless wall plaques.Â I started off trying to be optimistic, taking a picture of our scouts in front of the giant BSA logo:
We then took a stroll through the art gallery.Â For those that know me, you can understand my desire to get that over with first.Â But what I didnâ€™t realize was that we would get to see famous people here!Â Like Norman Rockwell himself!
I mean, seriously, if I have to look at art, Iâ€™d rather look at his than just about anybodyâ€™s.Â At least I understand what heâ€™s drawing.Â There is a whole gallery full of his artwork depicting scouts as only Norman Rockwell can do.Â There are other works there, too: a few other artists inspired by Rockwellâ€™s work.Â But his are the best.
And then we headed into the theater to learn a little of the history of Scouting and who should we meet there but Lord Baden-Powell himself!
After all that educational stuff was out of the way, we headed around the museum for some FUN!Â Seriously, what is a scout outing without shooting bbâ€™s?
Or running their very own Pinewood Derby?
There were lots of other interactive games and venues, as well as a scavenger hunt to complete as you moved into the various areas of the museum.Â We could hardly keep the boys from running from one area to another to see what was next and what other fun stuff they could do.Â We finished the scavenger hunt and earned a ribbon for our pack flag for our efforts.Â We finished off our day with lunch in the lounge, since we couldnâ€™t go outside to eat.
The best part about it?Â The museum is FREE on Mondays!Â All that fun and no cost involved.Â You canâ€™t get much better than that.
Itâ€™s that time of year again, friends!Â Time to go blueberry picking at Baileyâ€™s Berry Patch!Â This year, we invited our scout friends to join us for a day of â€œberryâ€ delicious fun!
We loaded up the car with kids, coolers, and cold water bottles, slathered on the sunscreen, and made the hour-long trek to just shy of Oklahoma where the blueberries and blackberries are.Â There was certainly a lot of excitement, which is saying a lot since the outside temperature would reach over 100 degrees before all was said and done.Â We arrived, picked up our buckets, and began the quest to fill our pails with luscious ripe blueberries.
Except for one slight problem.Â Our overly-wet weather and late cold snaps in the spring had delayed the full-bloom of the blueberries about a week.Â The pickinâ€™s were definitely slim compared to years past.Â We did manage to find some bushes yielding lots of berries, but despite our best efforts, our buckets took a long time to fill.
So what did we do?Â We had lunch and regrouped.Â Itâ€™s always easier to think more clearly in the shade, sitting down, in front of a great big fan.
After lunch, since the natives were restless and tired of picking blueberries, we decided to head over to the blackberry patch.Â Because the blackberry bushes have thorns, we were given special sticks to use to pull the branches down for picking.
And we made a discovery: what was bad for the blueberries was wonderful for the blackberries!Â Loads of near-to-bursting blackberries, fat and ripe on the branch, ready to be picked.Â Look carefully at this picture and youâ€™ll see what I mean.Â Or, you can click on it to enlarge.
We made another discovery, too.Â Unknown to me, my dear friend Christin, who usually makes this trip with me, had come out to pick berries on the EXACT SAME DAY!!Â We met up at the pavilion and headed out to the back areas where we could pick blackberries and blueberries together.
Crisana and Berkley even wore matching colors, with red tops and white shorts!
By the time we left, we had gathered about 3/4 gallon of blueberries and a few pints of blackberries.Â We watched as they cleaned and bagged the delicious fruit and of course I had to make the obligatory stop at the country store to pick up jars of their preserves and stuffed olives (that Matt absolutely loves) before the long, hot drive home.Â Unfortunately, one of the scouts, in a bad combination of overheated, underhydrated, and overstuffed with lunch, managed to get sick IN MY CAR on the way homeâ€¦making a rather unpleasant end to what had been a fun day.Â Thanks to scotch-guard on the carpet and leather seats, I was able to get the mess â€“ and stench â€“ removed fairly easily once we got home.Â And now we have a great memory we wonâ€™t soon forget.
That, and a whole drawer full of yummy ripe berries to eat.