Cub Scouts: A Place for Building Community, Character and Memories
By Tonyia Cone
When my son Mitchell entered first grade, we signed him up for our neighborhood Cub Scouts program. We did not know a whole lot about the program, but team sports were not working out to be a great fit for Mitch, plus my husband had been a Cub Scout and I remember going to Boy Scout camp with my father when I was a kid, so we figured Mitch should try it out. Since then it has been a series of successes, a big part of our son’s identity and a lot of seriously fun bonding time for our family. This school year, now that he is old enough, our son Turner plans to join the pack as well.
One of the most rewarding aspects of scouting for our family has been seeing our children’s love of the outdoors and environmentalism flourish. Through camping, hiking and service projects, Mitch and his younger siblings have learned and embraced the “leave no trace” environmental conservation principal, putting the concept into practice whether Mitch is in uniform or not. The outdoors have become Mitch’s favorite place, and he seeks out information and experiences like composting, planting trees and saving energy that will hopefully help preserve our environment for his lifetime and beyond.
Cub Scouts has also provided an opportunity for our family to connect with others in our school and neighborhood. Our whole family, including Mitch’s sister Hazel, is welcome to participate in every activity, which has given us many great memories and much quality family time together. Other families involved in our pack seem to have good values, care about spending time with their , and are a lot of fun. Each year, our relationships with these families have deepened, become more important to us and make us feel more connected to our community.
In third grade last year, Mitch earned a Maccabi Emblem, an award recognizing his “growing understanding of Judaism and Jewish Scouting,” according to a letter he received from Bruce Chudacoff, National Jewish Committee on Scouting chairman. Evan Cone, my husbandMitch’s dad and committee chairman of Mitch’s pack, guided Mitch through the emblem requirements, a process that took two months.
“Mitch's work on the Maccabi emblem was a great opportunity for both of us to explore how Judaism is part of his life outside of Sunday school and our synagogue. He explored connections to his family, community and history. As part of the scouting program, there are more opportunities for recognition if Mitchell chooses to explore further connections to his Jewish identity as he gets older,” Evan said.
In addition to the overtly religious component of Cub Scouts, BSA’s emphasis on the community and making the world a better place echoes Judaism’s tikkun olam. Mitch’s time as a scout has given him a structured program for social action and community service. Through Cub Scouts, Mitch – who aspires to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, grandfather and great-grandfather and become an Eagle Scout one day – has planted trees and made bags of food and supplies for people in need.
When asked why scouting is important to him, Mitch said, “It’s just a lot of fun and makes me feel good.” ■