Cub Scouts with Antonio

Cub Scouts ready to leave for Camp Tomahawk

Cub Scouts ready to leave for Camp Tomahawk

This is Antonio’s 5th year in Cub Scouts. That means that this is my 5th year in Cub Scouts. It started off when we were Tigers together when he was 6-years-old. I got the hint real quick that he would never allow me just to drop him off.  I also saw that our den leader needed help with this group of first graders so I became an assistant. That started my career in Scouts and Antonio tagged along.

That was our deal. He would go, if I would go.

It was important to Jody and I that Antonio learn to navigate his way in the ‘male’ world. The easiest place to find a bunch of boys is at Scouts.

Merry-Go-Round of Death!

Merry-Go-Round of Death!

I’ve watched him over the years become friendlier and more social with his den. Especially, after the  Scout meeting when a pick-up game of tag erupts.

I’m really not sure if Antonio has learned any life lessons in his last four years of Scouts. And there has been many times that he has told me that he loves his home with his two moms and his sister and that he doesn’t need the experience of Cub Scouts. I believe him. Still, I make him go. It just seems like the right thing to do. Throw him in a pond of testosterone and let him find his way to shore.

Antonio knows that he can decide for himself whether or not to join Boy Scouts after fifth grade.

We just came home from a 3-night camping trip at Camp Tomahawk for 2nd year Webelos (10 and 11-year-olds).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a good time because Antonio was having a good time. He was the one shooting the BB guns, practicing archery, racing to the top of the climbing wall, riding the merry-go-round of death, and playing king of the hill on the raft.

I was the one watching his smile.

Yes, I still got the occasional, “When are we going home?” question. And also his own honest opinion of himself , “I miss home when I’m only a block away”, he said. I told him that I understood and that both things could be true. He could miss home and he could have a good time.

I even heard him mention a time or two that he might join Boy Scouts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAntonio doesn’t appear to be aware of the controversy surrounding Scouts. It wasn’t present at Camp Tomahawk. What was present was an awesome staff of young men who were intent on making a memorable experience for 10 and 11-year-old boys. And to that end, they succeeded.

Boy Scout Summer Camp

by Elizabeth

Antonio and Elizabeth

“Antonio, why don’t you want to go to Cub Scout summer camp?” I had already asked him a number of times but I just wasn’t satisfied with his answer. He always said, “No” when I asked. “Too many bugs,” he offered once in explanation. I didn’t remember any bugs, and I was with him when we went two years ago. I had even brought us a mosquito netting to put over our cots.

Equally troubling to me was why I cared. Why I just couldn’t drop it. Last summer I had signed us up for camp and then fretted the summer away until August as a stubborn Cub Scout Bear growled, Noooo, whenever I broached the subject. Finally, I just gave our spots away to another parent and scout.

Now here we were at year three. I studied Antonio. Sitting on the lowest rung of a  step stool, his arms draped over my knees. Reaching a hand down, I rubbed his dark hair. How I loved him. Yet, there was something not being said. I could feel it, just out of my grasp. Air was thickening with every nanosecond. Then it came to me, fleeting as it had that first year at summer camp when we were making our way up the hill to the mess hall. Waves of men and boys moved about us. Where one group ended another began. I grabbed for the thought, held it: all those men and all those boys.

“Do you not want to go because there are mostly dads with their sons? Does it make you miss not having a dad?” Antonio’s pained look and the dive under his bed told me the answer.

“Buddy, you can ask Uncle Scott or Uncle Marty to take you,” I said.

Peering out at me with a smile, he said with enthusiasm, “You could dress up as a boy.”

I thought, well that’s nice. It’s not that he doesn’t want to be with me. It’s just that he’d like me to be his dad.

I laughed, “I tried being a boy once when I was about your age. I told this kid that my name was Dan, and he wanted to be my friend. It didn’t work out so well. I was always worried about being found out.”

I paused, “What if we invite your cousin?” His cousin is the same age and also a Cub Scout.

“What about Jacob?”

Once Antonio said that, I knew we would be going. He had moved from “No” to bargaining.

I suddenly realized why I couldn’t drop his attending camp. Just like I couldn’t make myself into a boy, he couldn’t make a dad appear.

Sometimes the obvious needed stating. “Antonio, the reason this is so important to me is because you don’t have a dad in your life. You’re a boy and you live with two moms and a sister. We’re all girls. You need to know how to navigate in the world of boys and men. When we go to camp you can look at all the dads and pick out the stuff you like and know that’s the kind of dad you want to be when you grow up and you’ll be able to hang with a bunch of boys and do what boys do.”

Antonio seemed satisfied with the answer.

Sometimes there is no getting past the pain of our lives. Instead of walking away from it Antonio, his friend, and I would buddy up, jump in the pond, and swim to the other side.