It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on Joseph’s progress in Boy Scouting, almost a year. We just returned from a week at summer camp where I ran a program for new scouts and Joseph was on his own, earning five merit badges of his choosing, four of which had significant prerequisites that took months to complete.
This summer’s haul included: Emergency Preparedness (required for Eagle), Reptile and Amphibian Study, Insect Study, Space Exploration, and Pulp and Paper.
Among the prerequisite assignments were the observation of a reptile or amphibian pet for a minimum of thirty days. Joseph thought it quite a bargain that his two long-tailed grass lizards and one anole cost less than $20 in total (Habitat: $167, weekly supply of crickets $8, but who’s counting….) I must say that his observations of the little beasts and his notes were worthy of a 19th Century naturalist, as were his notes and painstaking photographs of over 20 insect species in the wild.
After having built his own model rocket at camp and successfully launched it (quite high), Joseph has announced a new hobby–model rocketry. But we still have the grass lizards and the anole to contend with. I’m thinking of slipping them into one of the rockets and launching them into orbit…
Adding to all of that, Joseph qualified as a full swimmer this year, and with that status, had the ability to go boating on his own. With that has come something every parent hopes for and fears: an appetite for independence. I barely saw Joseph at all as we headed in our own directions, but I heard from everyone how much he came out of his shell last week. More importantly, I had boys asking me his whereabouts so they could challenge him to any one of several games or activities.
At summer camp, Joseph sat with his scoutmaster and shared that he feels ready to assume a leadership position in the troop (now at 63 boys with 13 more on the way from Cub Scouts in March). His scoutmaster agreed and told him to plan to attend the Leadership Training weekend in September. By December he’ll reach the rank of Star, and by next September, the rank of Life Scout (one away from Eagle). All by age 14.
While all of that is cause for gladness, there’s more. Recently a boy with Asperger’s joined the Troop. He’s a month younger than Joseph. Joseph has taken him under his wing and made this boy feel completely at home. When a discussion about Asperger’s and ADD arose among some of the new boys, Joseph shared very matter-of-factly his own experiences with autism and ADD (I let Joseph know about his diagnoses this year).
The real beauty of the Boy Scouts is how completely accommodating these boys are. It’s just not an issue to them, nor to the men who lead the troop. In another troop in my community, a boy with a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that will likely claim him before his twentieth birthday wanted to become a scout, and joined. His troop organized a series of car washes in order to raise the money to buy him a specialized wheelchair that would enable him to go camping with the troop.
As we sink further and further into the morass of a resurgent eugenics movement it is people such as these young men and their leaders who are a bright, shining star in the encroaching darkness. For parents who fear for their prenatally diagnosed children, there is a need for a message of hope. For Regina and me, it has come from an organization whose oath begins with three simple, powerful words:
“On my honor…”
For Joseph, the road to full participation has been paved smooth in no small measure by these boys and young men. He continues to grow, to thrive, to flourish.
It was a good week in ways he’ll never realize, but most importantly of all…