Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Changing of the Guard

It's the end of an era
And I'm gonna miss it
But ya know ya can't go back
time keeps marching forward,
and the boys keep growing,
and things change no matter what else happens.

OK, another long rambling post, I guess, because I have a lot of emotions to work out... sorry, if the rambling bothers you, check in again maybe tomorrow; for now, I plan on being WORDY. But tomorrow is Wednesday. For now, it is still only Tuesday.

Tuesday has always been boy scout night, ever since the boys were in 1st grade. And tonight is a big Tuesday for me...

Tonight marks the end of an era. Actually, maybe the end of two eras... and of course, as always, every ending means another beginning...

Tonight, we got word that one of the old Scoutmasters -- a guy everyone had a lot of respect for, (actually I've never even met him, he was way before my time --) has passed away.

It happens to also be the night that I officially retired my leadership position in the troop. I've been Advancement Chair for several years... how many? Since Nick was in I guess 5th grade? And now he's in 11th... yup, sounds about right.

I have so many great memories. Memories of when I first came in to the troop, with maybe 15 boys in tow?... Into a fully male dominated organization, and I was offered a VERY hesitant welcome... mainly from the Scoutmaster (who was burning out from trying to do it all) and from an Assistant Scoutmaster who was probably happy to be contrary to the opinions of the old guard. And who was actually only a responsible kid we'd met at Summer camp. And a wall of "old" guys who wanted to know, why was a MOM trying to get involved? I tried to be an Assistant Scoutmaster. I wanted to shake things up and make changes. And I faced the wall of guys - all very nice guys, mind you - and I was firmly told, "No, THIS is the way we do things." And I fought about it for a while, but after a while, and with a lot of help - especially from the Assistant Scoutmaster, who was really good about teaching ME the program at the same time he was teaching the kids... I finally learned. It's a team, it's a history, it's a tradition, it's not just my project... I learned to change what I could, and accept what I couldn't change, and learn to know the difference, as the prayer says.

More Moms became involved. I feel like I helped break a few barriers; it was a boys club, and became a parents club... and we had SO MUCH FUN over the years... The memories are some of the best in my life.... I remember setting up summer camp in the POURING RAIN... and the first time Alison used an official Boy Scout outhouse... and sitting around the campfire until 3 AM with Ellen and Joe and Ted and Erwin, and we LAUGHED AND LAUGHED until we were gasping for breath, and the boys slept ... Walking up mountains and along trails, alone, with children, with friends... I remember WORRYING like CRAZY from the beginning, about every detail imaginable... I remember watching the boys, geeky, awkward, children, finding friends, showing that they cared for each other, learning to be independent... learning to work, which I would never have thought -- yes, these spoiled children will pack and tote gear and set up and cook and wash dishes and NOT EVEN COMPLAIN (much), even though it's pouring rain, or freezing cold, or even though they WANT TO PLAY MANHUNT NOW!

I've watched them become Eagle Scouts. Not all of them, mind you. But a good number. I'm so proud of the Eagles that I feel I helped even just a little, find their wings: Nick W.... Matt... Chris... Frankie... Casey... Travis... Devin... Gerry... George... and now Mike... and Ryan... and to some extent, Andrew S... and maybe more? And I was honored to receive a mentoring pin from Nick and Matt and Casey, and of course a Mother pin from Frankie. That quote about "To have succeeded..." - I can measure my biggest true success in my life specifically from the small part I had in helping every one these boys, even the ones who never accomplished Eagle, but are still growing up to be great guys.

So tonight, I handed over my papers and information... and I let go.

And I watched the next guard taking over, railing at the system and the chaos that they've been given, their energy and will to change everything. I want to stop them and make them understand -- you CAN't change everything!!! It's this way for a reason!!! There is a history here, and it's this way for a reason!!!

And I can see the echo of the old guard, all the "old" guys I wrested my position from, saying the same things to me... and I see they won't listen. And I hope they'll learn, like I did, although my teacher has gone as well.

And I really miss those old days. I could actually cry.

But, everything does end, and everything changes... it's the way it's supposed to be. And everyone needs to be able to let go. And it's time for the next stage in my life to come forward. And yeah, I'm still a part of scouting -- a tiny part of this group for a while longer, and a bigger part of the Venturing group, which is the right program for Nicky right now... and I've got my own personal projects that I'm going to work on (as soon as I've made the room in my life!) ...so I know it's right and good and appropriate for the end to be here...

... but I really miss you guys...


Barbara said...

Sue, I just read your story "The changing of the Guard" and want to cry. So beautiful a story, a lifetime of good and bad memories and yet sad because that part will never happen again with you (Maybe you will have grandsons someday and can be their leader!) I also recall the 9 years I was a girl scout leader. I know I loved it more than my daughters who hung in there with me. Now my Dana is a cub scout leader for Ryan who loves it. I hope she gets the same wonderful memories like you.
Love, Aunt Barbara

Sue said...

Thanks, Aunt Barbara... I'm sure she will have fun, it's such a great program. The kids don't even realize how much they learn, and the adults don't realize how much fun they could have, or more of them would sign up to do it!