Both the Scouts and the parents of our Boy Scout troop are close knit because we offer a special leadership experience that no other troop can match. We volunteer to direct the parking at our county’s annual agricultural fair in August.
Since scouting is boy-led, our scouts take on the leadership responsibility. As adults, we report to them. I don’t know of another Troop which gives their boys such a tremendous opportunity to be leaders. The boys learn how the system works, make improvements, and step up to the challenge. We pride ourselves on directing traffic across the entire lot without causing any backups onto the main road. You need coordination, good planning, and hard work to make it happen. Some of these boys aren’t even teenagers and yet they all demonstrate a newly-learned level of maturity. Truly, this is a fulfilling sight to see.
By working together, we have the opportunity to get to know the other parents better. They’re no longer just the people you see picking up their scout at the end of a meeting or eating with their family at the annual dinner. Since we spend time sitting in the tent on breaks, we talk and get to know each other socially. We’re in it together and it shows. You really get to know someone when you have a hundred cars coming right at you and you need to communicate and get them all parked without any delays. We’re a team succeeding together and there’s no better feeling.
My sons work “Iron Man” hours. Iron Man requires 14-hour shifts for most of the fair week. They wouldn’t do so much more than required unless they truly enjoyed it. A few days ago in the cold of February my youngest said he wished he was volunteering at the fair. Obviously he’s dreaming of his summer fun.
Last year a new parent commented that the description of working at the fair didn’t sound like anything he wanted to do but that turned out to be wrong. He wound up coming more than needed. Believe me, it’s hard to stay home when you know people are arriving at the exact same time for a special event at the fair and you’re not there to help. You feel like you’re missing out on something by not participating. We all revel in the sense of accomplishment brought on by a job well done. All hands are willingly on deck.
The Troop has directed the parking at the fair for over 60 years. Each year lots of men stop to tell us that they helped park the cars when they were a scout. They say it knowingly. They say it with their pride showing. You can tell volunteering at the fair is one of the highlights of their youth as they share their memories.
Tradition’s important. Generations wouldn’t keep coming back unless it was worth the effort. For our boys this is a rite of passage and we have the leaders to prove it when they’re adults.