Sunday, July 26, 2009


To some people, even the mention of the word 'committee' strikes fear into their hearts. In my day job, committees are a mixed bag. They slow down processes, yet at the same time serve to provide job security; since everything moves at such a glacial pace, nobody ever loses their job.

To a Scoutmaster, the Troop Committee should be a time saver. Surely some places there are committees that get in the way of the SM. In my experience so far, Troop Committees in LDS troops are all but nonexistent, so they neither get in the way nor save any time. We have a chairman now, Brother McEvoy, but he's often out of town. He does an okay job if I stay on top of him, always telling him what he should be doing. The problem is that I can barely stay on top of a dozen kids that need me to tell them what they should be doing, let alone tell the committee chairman how to do his job as well.

So it's time to head off to camp, and Brother McEvoy is out of town as usual. I spent most of today and yesterday finishing paperwork, buying food, and arranging another vehicle for one of the dads who had something at work pop up and couldn't help transport us to camp.

I'll be buying a few more last minute things I forgot last night in about half an hour when the Sabbath is over, finishing packing my own things, getting a couple hours of sleep, and then heading out to camp. One of my paperwork things was to print off a current record of all the boys' advancement so I know where everybody is at. I thought Brother McEvoy was on top of keeping the computer up to date, but as I'm printing things off, I'm seeing quite a few things that I know boys have earned but are not in the computer. Grrrr...

As I was driving home yesterday from a family reunion (why I've scheduled family reunions in back to back weeks with Scout Camp two years in a row is another blog post), trying to get a bunch of last minute things worked out over the phone, I commented to Sister Smyth how it would be nice if I didn't have to arrange transportation, collect physicals and money, sign boys up for merit badge classes, buy the food, order the t-shirts, and all the other stuff that goes along with getting up to camp. She said, "Isn't that your job?" I guess our next FHE may have to be the online troop committee training. If the SM's wife doesn't understand the benefits of a well-oiled committee, I don't know how anyone else in the ward is going to.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I mentioned that we would be going on a backpacking trip, and the weather actually cooperated on this one. The most annoying weather-related incident was finding out as I filled out the tour permit that I needed to have some new hazardous weather training. Other than that, the weather was just about perfect. It was warm but overcast. We hiked four miles in, our destination a high mountain lake. I hadn't been backpacking with this group of Scouts, and I was pleasantly surprised at how prepared they were. Several of them learned important things about what to bring or not when backpacking but it wasn't too painful.

We actually had all our boys but three attend. We're an average size LDS troop, with nine boys. It's just enough that we could probably split into two patrols but that we don't have to. Three of the six boys who chose to come skipped baseball games to be there. One of the boys who chose not to come chose to play in his game. His dad is the coach and called me to tell me how broken up his son was that he couldn't come camp with us. I don't know if he really was sad or not, but life is all about choices, and I'll never get on anyone for choosing something good, given two good things to choose from.

The problem I do have is with the other two boys who didn't come. They claimed they had to do something for lacrosse, even though the lacrosse season ended several months ago. They actually wanted to stay for a neighborhood ping pong tournament. You know what, that's cool, too. The ping pong tournament is a big tradition run by one of their families. So go to the tournament. It's not like I don't know it's happening. But no, they lied, thinking that I would understand their missing the backpack trip for lacrosse but that I wouldn't understand if it was ping pong.

I've already told both of them multiple times that coming to activities or not is their choice. I don't get upset if they're not there. Yes, we miss them, but we can also get along without them. One of them keeps trying to fire me up, telling me he's not going to our week-long camp. I already have his deposit and physical, so I know he's going. But even if he wasn't, it doesn't rip me apart if he chooses to go to football practice instead.

They missed out on a great backpacking trip, not me. I was there, lying in my one man tent, miles from civilization, sipping ice cold water from a glacier-fed spring, staring up through the mesh roof at the stars above, wondering when the boys who were there would stop reading 'yo mama' slams off their iPod Touches and go to sleep already.