Tag Archives: boy scouts

An Unusual Lesson in Gratefulness

My oldest son, John, is a First Class boy scout working toward his Star rank.  One of the requirements he has to fulfill before earning that rank is that he must complete six hours of community service. Although we already participate in a few community service activities on a regular basis, I began looking for some other opportunities for him to get involved. One such opportunity presented itself at my mother-in-law’s church.

For over two years, this local church has been sponsoring a free “clothes closet” and food pantry for families in the community. They have a room full of household goods, including pillows, blankets, videos, books, dishes, and more. They have three rooms full of clothes, another room with toys of all sorts, and two more rooms that are always overflowing with groceries. All the rooms  are open once a week, and anyone can stop by; we often go to see what’s new (the kids loved the toy room), and we usually bring a bag or two of clothes and other items with us.

Because we’re here so often, the director of the clothes closet put me on the list to help out. And because John needed the community service hours, I volunteered him too. 🙂

I worked at a couple of jobs — hanging up donated clothing and helping to pack groceries into bags. John loaded the groceries onto a cart and wheeled them out to the  parking lot. There he would unload the groceries for the individual, then bring the cart back inside for the next load.

After we had finished for the day, I asked him what he thought of the job. I was expecting him to say that it was fine, and I was planning on prompting him regarding how helping someone else in that way made him feel good. But he gave me an answer I just didn’t expect.

“It was really hard,” he said. “Some of the people who got food were mean. One man kept calling me ‘boy, ‘ saying, ‘Put the groceries in here, boy.’ Then, when I did, he just grunted, got in his car, and drove away.”

I thought a lot about what John said. I had wanted him to see how much good he was doing by helping those less-fortunate than himself. And while that lesson didn’t really come across as I had anticipated, he did learn a lesson in gratefulness. He learned what it was like to help someone who is not grateful — someone who takes advantage of a situation and shows no appreciation. He learned how not to behave, and I think he understood it a lot better than if I had given him one of my lectures.

So, will he go again to help at the food pantry? Sure — because no matter how someone responds, we aren’t to grow weary of doing good. And maybe next time, someone will appreciate his efforts so he’ll get to experience that too.


Photo by Alvimann

Busy Day

Yesterday, we had a very busy day. We left the house at 8:30 am, returned for about 45 minutes at 5:00 pm, then had to leave again right away, finally returning at 8:30 pm. Whew!

We started the day by taking my oldest son John to his co-op class. It lasted an hour, so during that time, the other three children and I ran errands. We made it to two stores: the grocery store and Target, and returned just in time to pick up John.

We then headed towards the far end of the county, where a new IMAX theatre just opened up. In celebration of the opening week, all of the movies were free (they even gave out free popcorn!), so we went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D on a huge screen. Not too educational, but a lot of fun.

Next, we headed back for an orthodontist consultation for my daughter Cassie, but we arrived about an hour early — enough time to run another errand. We shopped the sales at another grocery store, but didn’t get through the entire list before it was time to go, so after the appointment, we went to one more store. Part of that list was for supplies for John’s backpacking trip this weekend, so we had to finish.

We arrived home with just enough time to pack up that backpack and head out again to have it weighed-in with the other scouts. After a short meeting, we moved on to Walmart to pick up some photos for Friday, and by the time the day was done, it was after dark.

Could this be counted as a school day? For John, it could. He attended his co-op class, read his schoolbooks during the car rides and while waiting at the orthodontist, and learned how to pack for the trip. For the rest of the children, probably not. While a lot was accomplished, not too much was done in the way of learning, so we’ll make it up on Saturday. But that’s one of the best advantages of homeschooling — the flexibility of schedules to accommodate life — or whatever else may be going on.

Time Management Strategies Part II

h 039With all the busyness of life recently, I haven’t spent as much time reading as I should. It seems a little ironic that I’m too busy to read about time management. 🙂

However, I have read through the planning chapter of The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith. Like the chapters before it, I have found this chapter to be very helpful as I try to get my days more under control. In it, the author provides a sample page from the Franklin Planner, the planning tool he helped create. He describes how he uses the daily pages to keep track of appointments, phone calls, and anything else he needs to remember.

Although I’d love to purchase that planner, it’s really not in our budget at this time, so I decided to make my own planner pages on the computer and make copies for my notebook. As I was doing so, my 13-year-old son came in and said, “Mom, I have so much homework to do for co-op.”

“What do you have to do?” I asked. He answered me with a long list of things he had to finish for his science and geography classes. He also had some scout projects that needed to be completed. That’s when I realized that he needed some planning pages too.

I pulled out some extra copies I had made and sat him down. “Okay,” I began, “this is where you list all the things you have to do. When you’re finished, bring it back to me, and I’ll show you how to prioritize them.” Within fifteen minutes, he had a written list with every assignment and a number by each one, indicating the order in which they needed to be accomplished. Then he got to work.

How easy that was to show him, and what a difference it made! Instead of scattered thoughts of having this and that to do, he had a concrete plan of what needed to be done and how he was going to do it. The day went smoothly, and he finished everything on time.

Having a plan really does work — for all ages!

Getting Ready for High School

cohdra100_1411Last week, I attended a class called “Homeschooling Your High Schooler” presented by homeschool veteran and speaker Tandy Collier. It was a great  class, focusing on what to do to help your homeschooled child get accepted into college. With my oldest son John entering eighth grade this year, I need to begin thinking ahead now.

This is especially true in our state. Students can begin receiving high school credits for some classes they take in the eighth grade. This year, John will be taking two classes that can count towards his high school credits. I realized that even with those extra credits, however, we need to map out now the courses he’ll take in 9th-12th grade, just to be sure that he stays on track. With so many dual enrollment and online learning opportunities, he can have a strong start when it comes time to enter college.

But there’s more to plan. Ms. Collier mentioned that colleges and universities admission counselors like to see that a student is a dedicated member in an organization and sticks with it for a long time. They also like to see that the student has a variety of experiences withing that group. With so many extracurricular activities available, we have to decide together just which ones he should participate in. Up to now we haven’t done much with organized sports, opting instead to pursue scouting, which John still enjoys. He’s also continuing on with music and playing the piano. But there’s much more to choose from: 4-H clubs, Civil Air Patrol, Teen Pact, theater, chorus, and band, just to name a few.

Was the class intimidating? No — rather, it was encouraging. Last year, my husband and I discussed whether or not to continue homeschooling through high school, and at the time we felt it was the right way for us to go. Now I know we’re headed in the right direction. I also know it will involve a lot of work and a lot of planning, and I need to stay on top of things as we enter the high school years. But I also know that for the most part,  I have one more year to prepare. Whew!

The Boy, the Book, and the Birds – Part 3

barn swallowUp above us, in the three metal beams that held up the roof of the gas station, was nest after nest filled with baby birds! Every couple of feet along the beams, barn swallows had built their nests and were now busy feeding their young. And each time an adult would fly to the nest, the babies would open their mouths and eat, and the bird would take off again. There were so many of them in one place – we counted at least 20 – and because their location at the gas station meant people were always coming and going, they didn’t seem to mind us one bit. 

We all were out of the car now, just standing by the gas pump and watching the birds. Not only did I wish I had my purse that day, but now I really wished I had a camera. Who knew we would witness such an amazing bit of nature, especially when all we had set out to do was drop off a boy scout book? 

We watched the birds a little longer, then loaded back up in the car and started towards the interstate. I didn’t recognize where we were yet, but I took my best guess as to which direction we needed to go. Fortunately, I chose the right way, and we were finally headed home. Unfortunately, we still had thirty minutes to go. 

As we drove along, we talked about everything that had happened on our adventure. We thought Dad must be home by now and was probably wondering where we were. After all, by the time we pulled back into the driveway, our twenty-minute round trip had taken us nearly two hours! 

But Dad wasn’t even home yet!  The kids thought that was great – we had been on this big adventure, and if they didn’t tell him about it, he would never even know! (They did wait a while to tell him the story.)

Though it had been a long trip, we decided that seeing the birds had made it all worthwhile. Even five-year-old Luke, who doesn’t like long car trips, didn’t seem to mind this one. And we decided we should go back sometime to show the birds to Dad and John… we’d just take a shorter route.

Photo by Jerry Ting

The Boy, The Book, and The Birds

2620931433_07ac966408What a day we had yesterday. My three younger children and I went on what we thought was a quick errand, but what turned out to be quite an adventure — such a long adventure, in fact, that it will take two posts to tell the story, but here it goes…

My oldest, John, was headed off to his first week-long scout camp, and we were late pulling everything together. After a rather hectic morning making sure he had everything he needed, he hopped in the truck with my husband and headed to the campground in the mountains — which was actually only about ten minutes from our house.

As soon as they had left, however, I found his scout book, which he had told me the day before he had to have at camp. I grabbed the book and rushed out of the house, but they were already gone. Perhaps I could catch them? I called to my other three children to run to the car, and away we went.

The problem was, I didn’t know the shortcut to the campground — the way my husband had probably gone. He didn’t have a cell phone with him, so I couldn’t call; besides, we had rushed out in such a hurry, I didn’t take along a cell phone either. I had seen signs for the camp from the highway, though, so I was sure that even if we didn’t see them on the road, we’d only be minutes behind…

…Or many minutes. We went up and down the same stretch of highway looking for that sign about three times. Just when I was about to give up, it occurred to me that I might not have gone far enough, and we drove a little further. Sure enough, there was the sign. What a relief, since a quick glance at the gauges revealed we were running low on gasoline. There weren’t any gas stations nearby, but I was sure we’d have enough to get to the camp and then home again. After all, the camp wasn’t that far away…

…Or was it? We continued down a winding mountain road, eventually spotting another sign for the campground. We turned to the right and kept going and going another couple of miles. Had we missed a turn? My older daughter, Cassie, was sure we had, and our gas gauges kept getting lower and lower. Finally, we spotted the campground up ahead.

The ten-minute trip to camp took us about thirty-five minutes, but we made it just in time, reaching the campers and delivering the book right before they went off to take a swim test. My husband was going to watch the test, so we waved good-bye and headed home. I was thinking I should ask him about the shortcut, but they were already walking away. Anyway, I was sure all I had to do was continue the way we were going before that second turn. After all, the other way led back to the highway. We didn’t have much gasoline left, but we didn’t have far to go…

Or did we?

Photo by Philms