Be Prepared: A Year With the Cub Scouts

Cub Scout Fun Day Archery

The marketing team for the Crossroads of America Council/Boy Scouts of America deserves some kind of medal (Perhaps a badge would be more appropriate?). I’m not sure exactly how they go about selling the concept of scouting to first grade boys, or what they’re telling them. I can tell you that Eli came home from school one day convinced that becoming a Cub Scout was the key to happiness in life.

Now, Eli brings home a lot of information from school, and 95% of he could care less about. He’s a lot like me in his tendency to be a homebody. He has to really, REALLY want to participate in something for it to lure him from home and playing with his friends. We’re fiercely protective of our after-school schedules, so we’re good with that. I’ve always believed that there were plenty of years ahead of us to get involved in sports and clubs. I feel strongly that kids should be excited and motivated on their own to get involved, rather than having adults push activities on them. As parents of a tween, we can attest to the fact that the day will come when they have a strong opinion about what types of extracurricular activities they want to take part in. I might ask the kids if they’re interested in a particular activity when a flier comes home or I see something in the school newsletter, but if they’re not overly enthusiastic, I have no problem keeping our afternoons and weekends activity-free.

The Cub Scout flier fell under the 5% of papers Eli brings home that requires my immediate attention. He wanted to be a Cub Scout, end of discussion! There was an informational meeting for parents coming up, and he immediately wrote it in my calendar. He then proceeded to remind us about it every single day until the meeting time arrived.

That’s how we found ourselves initiated into the world of Scouting. This is all new to us, and I’m very curious to see how Cub Scouts fits into The Risky Kid way as well our parenting philosophy. Here’s what appeals to us so far:

Appropriate Time Commitment: I’ve always heard that Scouting is a big commitment for families. I’m sure that is probably true as the boys progress through the program, but as a Tiger Scout (first grade), we’re finding the commitment to be manageable. We have 2-3 meetings a month, with a few optional activities available as well.

Cub Scout Fun Day BB Guns

Activities That Appeal to Boys: I’m pretty sure Eli was sold when he heard there would be BB guns. He’ll also have the opportunity to participate in camping, archery, rafting, and the Pinewood Derby.

Activities That Complement Our Parenting Philosophy: We’re big on doing things that get our kids moving, playing, and developing life skills that will lead them to becoming competent, independent adults. Even in Tiger Scouts, there are Achievements and Electives that go hand-in-hand with our philosophy, such as spending time outdoors, being of service to others, and learning life skills (how to sew a button, phone manners, using public transportation).

Quality Time With Other Boys & Adults: We’re looking forward to meeting other parents and having Eli get to know other boys in our community that we might not spend time with otherwise. I also like that it gives us the opportunity to participate in something together. So far Mike has been to the meetings with Eli, but this week I’ll go with him so I can get a taste of it for myself. For families that are as protective of their family time as we are, I envision Scouting as an activity that can enhance family time, as opposed to just making demands on it.

Throughout the year, I’ll keep you up informed on what we’re up to with the Scouts and how we feel it’s impacting our family life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experience with Scouting (Girl Scout Experiences welcome, too!). Was it a positive experience for your family? Or did it not live up to your expectations?

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Our First (and Hopefully Not Last!) KaBOOM! Playground Build

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build

Last weekend the kids and I had a chance to participate in our very first playground build with KaBOOM! I’ve always wanted to take part in a build, having partnered with KaBOOM! on a few other projects. I just love the work they do, and their passion for making play possible for all families, no matter where they live or how much they make.

My good friend Sacha helped connect me to this particular build, through her work with Foresters. Unfortunately we had a hectic Saturday, and could only help out for a small portion of the day.

When we arrived, the play structure was up and concrete was being poured. Other teams were building benches. Elena and I were assigned to “Team Mulch.” Have you ever moved a mountain of mulch? It’s not easy! I kept waiting for Elena to start complaining … she’s not one for manual labor! But she jumped right in. I could see her eyeing the group of teens doing some painting. They were making brightly colored signs for the playground. After she hauled a few loads of mulch, I encouraged her to see if her art skills could be of any use. She spent the rest of the time painting, and loved it.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build painting signs

Eli was too young to work, but they offered a Kids Zone staffed by volunteers so you could help without having to worry about childcare. He was a little disappointed, though, as he really wanted to lend some muscles to the project. Before we left, I let him carry one last load of mulch with me so he could say he helped.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build moving mulch

The coolest part, other than watching a playground take shape before your very eyes, was seeing people of all ages and walks of life participating in the build. If you’re as passionate about play as we are, I strongly encourage you to participate in your community.

KaBOOM! Community Playground Build Indianapolis

Even though we only helped for a couple of hours, it definitely made an impact on us. Not only do we have a strong desire to help out with another playground build, we feel inspired to spend more time volunteering in our community in general. Next month we’re planning to help out at Kids Against Hunger, and I hope this builds a tradition and commitment to volunteering as a family.

Have you ever participated in a KaBOOM! playground build, or a similar community playground project? Is your family committed to volunteering? If so, I’d love for you to share your experiences. I know myself, I’m inspired when I hear about other families with younger children making volunteer experiences a priority in their lives.

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Tag! You’re It: The 2012 KaBOOM! Playground Challenge

KaBOOM! Playground Challenge 2012

Last year the kids and I had so much fun working with KaBOOM! on their Park-a-Day Challenge.  Thanks to the Challenge, we discovered this gem of a wooden playground (along with many others) just minutes from our house.

This year they’re at it again and The Risky Kids want you to do it right along with us.  The KaBOOM! 2012 Playground Challenge starts July 2nd.  Why the need for a playground challenge, you say?  Two things:

1.  A playground in and of itself isn’t necessarily exciting and fun.  It needs kids, and lots of them, to make it come alive.  Maybe you’re the playground expert in your community – the Challenge would be a great opportunity to share your knowledge of the shadiest spots and best slides in town.  Maybe you’ve never ventured beyond that one playground around the corner.  Here’s your chance to explore playgrounds with your kids and find some new favorites.

2.  KaBOOM! has an excellent resource in their Map of Play.  By accessing it online or via their mobile app, you can search for playgrounds wherever you are.  It’s functionality only increases with more participation, and that’s where you come in.  By visiting playgrounds in your community and either entering or updating information about them in the Map of Play, you help others find great places to play.  It also helps identify communities that need playspaces, so that KaBOOM! can continue their mission to provide places to play within walking distance of every child in America.

Here’s how the Challenge works:

  • Download KaBOOM!’s new mobile app, Tag! (available for both iPhone and Android).
  • You visit playgrounds!
  • Track and share your playground adventures using the app.  Each playground you share will be added to the Map of Play.

Did I mention prizes?  No Challenge is complete without prizes!

  • Each playground you visit and share via Tag! will earn you points and badges.
  • Every other week KaBOOM! will give you “mini-challenge” for a chance to earn prizes as you go.
  • When the challenge closes on August 13, the top 3 point and badge earners will each win a week-long trip for 2 to Washington, DC!

What are you waiting for? Let’s all get out there and play!

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