Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I live with the Cheeriest of the Cheerful

     Motivational speaker and salesman Zig Ziglar, is quoted as saying "Your Attitude, not your Aptitude, will determine your Altitude".  Even if I didn't know that Zig was a salesman/author who was born 10th in a family of 12, he'd have had my full agreement on this.  My children will quote another salesman/blog author who was born 10th in a family of 12, that frequently told them to "Love the job you find, not find the job you Love".  We have preached, and tried to live this, so when I saw a shining example of this in action, was there any doubt that it would make it into a blog?  Of course not.

     We are Scouters in this family.  That's is not to say that we agree with every national policy in Boy Scouting but it is to say, we appreciate that this organization has done more to foster and create good character development in youth, than any other, bar none, so our kids have all participated.  Our youngest Nolan, has been a Scout since Tiger Cubs and 2 years ago was nominated by his Troop to become a member of the elite Honor Society of Scouting, called the Order of the Arrow.  This is not a secret society of Scouting, but it is an additional part of Scouting that is shrouded in mystery. It's also referred to as the "Brotherhood of Cheerful Service".  The OA calls Scouts to be even better, more involved in good works, and most importantly to do so with a cheerful attitude.  We were proud when Nolan was nominated, but even more proud when he came back from a Conclave gathering with an award for being the "Most Cheerful Arrowman", but when you hear the rest of the story, it gets even better.

      The Conclave is a gathering of many Order of the Arrow lodges and the first one that Nolan was invited to attend, his lodge also hosted.  It meant a lot of work and pressure, especially for a newly inducted
member like Nolan, but he was looking forward to the challenge, but also glad that another Scout in our Troop was planning on attending with him.  Parents traditionally don't attend these, unless they are members of the OA lodge themselves, and we had decided that Nolan would benefit from this activity without our input.  As we are both leaders in the Troop, we have plenty of interaction with him.  The Conclave was to be around 150 participants, and Nolan only really knew the one Scout from our Troop that was to join him, which made the call we received that morning all the more difficult.

     "My son decided not to attend the Conclave" said the mother on the other end of the phone.  We didn't pry as to the reason, we fully understand that life gets in the way of Scouting sometimes, and we've made that call before ourselves, but as we hung up the phone we realized that it left Nolan going camping with 149 virtual strangers for the weekend.  We were due to pick him up directly from school and take him to the campout, so there would be no advance warning for him. Nolan has a naturally gregarious nature, but even this would be a stretch for him.  My wife actually picked him up and headed out for the event.  He seemed a little lost in thought, but finally realized that they were headed out of
Nolan working on signs for a fundraiser
town.  "Are we not picking up the other Scout" he inquired?  ""No" Mom replied.  The realization dawned on him even as he asked if the Scout was meeting him there.  "He bailed, didn't he?" Nolan said.  Mom confirmed it and the rest of the ride was spent in contemplative silence.  I know my wife enough to know her thoughts during that ride and her instinct would have been to smother and cover and to protect Nolan from this possible hardship, but she mustered through and pulled into the camp.  Nolan slowly gathered his pack and bedroll and as he went to close the van door, after saying goodbye, he said " You know, I'm going to have a good weekend".   I suspect that he was saying this as much to himself as to his mother, but say it, he did and then trotted off to find his bunk.  Char drove home wondering if he would make it through the weekend, we've seen those calls come a few times in our Scouting career.

     No call came.  We spent the weekend involved with friends and doing some things together, but our
Nolan cooking at an informal campout in the garage
thoughts were never far from Nolan. Sunday morning came, and it was time for Mom to head back to camp to pick him up.  He broke off from a group and headed to the van and started to put his stuff in.  He was wearing something that he didn't have when he got out of the van, a smile.  He was also carrying a sheet of paper and when he got home, he showed us both what he had received.  He went off to camp, virtually alone, and as the youngest member of the lodge, and came home with the Award for the Cheeriest Arrowman of the 150 Scouts there.  We could not have been more proud, or so we thought.  The blog could end here, and it would be a great story, would it not?  There was more, however, that would come to light a few weeks later.

     We installed a hot tub in our back deck a half a dozen years ago, and I have never regretted that decision.  I like it for the pain relief I get soaking my old bones in it, but also for the time we get to spend
with the kids in it.  The timer goes for 15 minutes and you'd be surprised at the number of deep conversations that have been had in it, with us sometimes re-setting the timer to let the kids share.  A few weeks after the campout, Nolan and I were soaking and we had such a moment.  It dawned on me that I hadn't heard his phone buzzing as much lately, he keeps it on vibrate and had a girlfriend for a few months who liked to text him.  Most mornings he'd have messages waiting for him when he woke up, and I hear it buzzing as I turned it some nights too.  I inquired about the lack of calls and he casually said "Yeah, she broke up with me a few Fridays ago at school". I expressed my sympathy but as I did was doing the mental math as to when it happened.  "Wait" I said "Wouldn't that have been the day you went off to the Conclave?"
He affirmed that it was.  So our son, the weekend that his girlfriend broke up with him, the weekend that his buddy bailed on him and the weekend he camped with 149 virtual strangers, came away with the award for being the most Cheerful Scout, and he earned it at a gathering of 5 lodges full of the region's Cheeriest !  That boy got Zig's advice and took it to heart.  I've posted 2 pictures of Nolan at OA events, and his OA brothers spontaneously hoist him onto their shoulders, I wonder if that's because they recognize his potential altitude? 



Judy Johnson said...

Okay, pass the kleenex and give that boy a big hug. You are ALL winners!

Gayle Hendershot said...

You have so much to be proud of.

cdyarger said...

Can I brag a bit more here? He also discovered when he arrived that cold weekend that he would be sleeping in a lean-to, and that as it was our District hosting the Conclave, he would be put to work!!! He apparently exemplified what the OA is all about; a cheerful attitude! I had the opportunity this past weekend to do some community service with Nolan and some of his OA Brothers. They are a WONDERFUL group of young men, and I think I enjoyed this particular community service more than any I can remember. They make it easy to be cheerful!