Joseph and I are off to a week of Summer Camp with his Boy Scout troop. Time for a scouting update.
Since joining the Boy Scouts in October, Joseph has camped in balmy autumn weather, in a cabin surrounded by 36″ of snow capped by 2″ of solid ice, a mountaintop so cold that an igloo seemed preferable, pulled a sled in a Klondike derby throughout a day with a steady freezing rain in January, and at a Camporee on a twenty-acre field sodden after nine straight days of rain with mud four inches deep. Withall, he has advanced two ranks, and will complete his requirements for Second Class and First Class in the program for first year boys at summer camp. He’s earned two merit badges, and will earn four more at summer camp. He has shown up to paint the Alzheimer’s Foundation, a school library, and the children’s playground of the parish school, as well as helping to add to a memorial garden’s footpath and garden at the church, all in aiding boys’ Eagle Scout projects.
He volunteered to help the Troop serve lunch and give a basket of toiletries to autistic older adults in their forties and fifties who were born in an age that was not as enlightened and who now live in an adult home. He has served tables of parishioners at the annual Troop Pancake Breakfast.
He helped to distribute 5,000 American flags to bystanders at the Memorial Day Parade, and attended the Annual Flag Retirement Ceremony, where some 4,000 old and tattered flags were burned.
And he has, on his own, both suggested and volunteered to cochair, promote and run a bowl-a-thon with a $10,000 goal for Good Counsel Homes. A NY State bronze medalist for boys 11 and under in the USBC league (for all kids), he is already well under way in the planning and promotion. This will count as his service project for the rank of Star, and easily qualifies as an Eagle Scout project.
Not bad for less than a year’s involvement.
Daddy has taken advanced leadership training and become an Assistant Scoutmaster who will be in charge of the fifteen new boys this week.
It’s a great time in life, and Joseph continues to grow and develop. On the Camporee, amidst the rain and ubiquitous mud, I laid awake in my tent reading after “lights out” both nights, listening to the boys horsing around, and noting how one-by-one the tents fell silent. The last to fall silent, at 1 A.M. both nights was none other than Joseph’s, and he was as loud as the best of them.
I’m working on hosting a medical conference on poor pre-natal diagnoses for sometime early next year. Autism research is now yielding genes that may be used in the not-too-distant future to screen out these babies, as is being done with Down Syndrome.
I’ll be sure to talk at some length about Joseph’s story, about the hope that abounds for parents who are willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle their child’s greatest challenges. It requires total dedication, but then, so does parenting any child.
I love the illusion of leadership here. For all of my involvement, my training and titles, I labor under no illusions. It is Joseph who has led me from the very beginning. He led me to a place I was frightened to go, feeling unequal to the task.
In truth, it is I who am the tenderfoot, and Joseph who has been the leader, and every place where he has led me, God’s Grace was waiting there to sustain me.
This week ought to be a hoot! See you all next Saturday.