Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Achieving Rank

Last night was a special evening for our family. Our only son, age 11, was presented with his Tenderfoot rank at his weekly troop meeting for Boy Scouts. This ranking was achieved after only being part of the scouts for a year. It was a big deal for us for a number of reasons.

First, and I have to admit this, I was surprised he would actually stick with scouts. When he asked me to take him to the initial scouting meeting at his school last September, I was not certain this was something he would stick with for very long. He tends to want to try new things but a lot of times his interest will wane. Thankfully I was wrong. After some initial bumps, he seems to have gotten into the groove with his troop and has done most of the activities (meetings, camp-outs, field trips, etc.). He even attended a week-long event at the nearby scout camp about an hour from us. This was his first time away from home for that long of a period of time (not counting staying with family members), and he is already looking forward to next summer's event.

Second, I was concerned about his disability and how it would come into play with scouting. He has very limited use with his right hand due to a birth injury. That makes two-handed manipulations as well as a lot of other physical activities requiring two strong hands very very challenging for him. From what I knew about scouting (which I also must admit was little - I never was a scout myself), I knew this would come into play in a lot of areas. My son has also been very self-conscious about his disability, not wanting to talk about it much with folks he hasn't known for long and not wanting preferential treatment because of it. My wife and I always hoped he would grow more comfortable with it because, at this juncture, we've arranged for all we could medically to help with the condition; this is something he would have to learn to live with and work around. Still, because of his own interest to do well in scouting, he has realized he has to come up with other ways to achieve the objectives. He has to find ways to make complex knot-tying or canoe-boarding while in the water work for him. These are really good life lessons that he is getting from scouting: how to find a way to succeed with what you have and what you do not have.

Besides his new ranking, he also received last night four merit badges for various activities. A few of them were ones he achieved while away at camp over the summer. Another was for the care of a pet tortoise we got for him specifically because of his scouting interests.

I am very proud of what my son has accomplished. I am glad he has found an activity he enjoys with a group whom he gets along.

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