Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Scoutmaster's Widow

Janelle, if it is not Valentine's Day, do not read this.

Our family got hit hard by the flu last month. There was a great deal of yuckiness and very little sleep for a few days. This was a cause of great stress on my scout troop, as they had been counting on my vehicle and my presence at the annual Klondike Derby. If we continued to be sick into the weekend, they would need to hastily find another leader1.

Much to their relief, it appeared that we were all back to good health in time for me to go on this trip. So I packed everything up and took off on Friday night for another weekend with the scouts.

Janelle got about two hours of sleep that night. Bug got worse again.  Bird got worse again.  Janelle was feeling worse.  At 10:30 on Saturday morning she sent a text requesting that I come home and relieve her.  But thanks to a lack of cell phone reception at the camp, the text never came through.  Her only hope for relief went devastatingly unanswered.

After I got home and she was telling me about her weekend, a phrase came to mind that I once heard, though I can't remember who it was that said it to me (Molly Urban, maybe?).

"The Scoutmaster's Widow."

Whoever said it was lamenting the incredible time commitment and sacrifice required by a scoutmaster to make a successful program for the boys.  Although I'm not the scoutmaster (whose time commitment is even greater than my own), I began to wonder how much time I've spent away from my family because of scouting.  I compiled the following stats:

  • 44 Camping trips
  • 80 Nights camping
  • 3 Full weeks at scout camp
  • 2 Full weeks leading high adventure trips
  • 40 Weekly meetings per year
  • 25(ish) Patrol Leaders' Council meetings (about two hours each)
  • 25(ish) Troop Committee meetings (about 90 minutes each)
  • 5 Annual planning meetings (about 5 hours each)
  • Various all-day training meetings, certifications, and recertifications (scoutmaster specific training, first aid, wilderness first aid)

All told, I estimate I've given up the equivalent of over three months of my life to scouting in a little over five years.  And I think the worst complaint I've ever heard from Janelle in that time is, "I wish you were staying home, but I am glad you're going to have fun."

There should be an award for the women who put up with what Scoutmaster's do.  Scouting has awards for everything else, so why not an award for the scoutmaster's wife.  If I were to make a recommendation for the award requirements, they would be as follows:

The Scoutmaster's Widow Award

  1. Be the spouse of a active scoutmaster or assistant scoutmaster for at least three years.
  2. Watch your spouse go away for 90 nights of camping.
  3. Support and encourage your spouse to complete the Wood Badge Training program

That's it!  (Ha!  as if that isn't a lot).

Now, on those criteria, Janelle wouldn't qualify for this award yet.  I'm a little shy on the camping, and I have yet to do the Wood Badge Training (next year, I hope).  But since this is my award and my rules, I get to fudge them a little bit.  Which is why, prior to reading this post, Janelle found a box in front of the computer containing her pin (patches are ubiquitous in Scouting, but the coolest awards come with pins), pictured below (it hasn't arrived yet :( )

(Image is Copyrighted by Ruby Lane)

So, Janelle, on this Valentine's Day, I give you my sincerest condolences on being a Scoutmaster's Widow.  You also have my heartfelt thanks for allowing me to have all the fun I am having in Scouting.  As ridiculous a gift as this is, I hope you read in it the message I intend: I love you.

1Lest you think that my fellow leaders are callous, I received two separate calls Thursday night asking if I was okay to go and if Janelle would be able to handle the girls. It was important to them that Janelle not be left at her wits end. It was a courtesy that we were touched by and the sensitivity should be recognized.

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