Category Archives: scouting

Sunday Scenes – Bye, Bye Boy Scout

Bright & early on Sunday morning, Gavin left for a six-week stint as a staff member at Boy Scout camp.

DSC06858 DSC06862People keep asking me if I am going to miss him. I suppose that I am. He is very helpful and keeps us all laughing, but I think camp is exactly where he should be and he is doing exactly what he wants to do be doing. I am more happy than sad!

Breakfast brought cooking lessons. I am trying very hard to work my way out of a job.

The results were stupendous.

DSC06880

Summertime is also an awesome time to learn new chores. I’ve got a list of things to teach Mikey & Sean – and just wait until Gavin gets home….

DSC06884 (1) DSC06886 DSC06885I am a gardener by no means. I have no talent for it and hardly enjoy it. But I dream of being good at it and enjoying it – so I keep trying. So far, the payoff is good.

Apparently, we also have a burgeoning comic book writer.

DSC06909 (1)Overall, these are my favorite scenes of any day, not just a Sunday. Keep ’em coming.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

7 Weeks Away

Gavin will be spending 7 weeks away from home this summer. The first week will be spent at high-adventure Boy Scout Camp and the additional six weeks as a staff member at another BSA camp.

There will be a seismic shift on the Costello household with Gavin gone. He is often a bastion of reliability, he is a good conversationalist, and he is full of fun & frivolity. He is the only one who can hold down the whole fort, besides Dennis & I.

He is also a teen…and well, things can get a little hard when your a teen. And things can get a little hard when you are the parent of a teen. You know – the ‘regular’ stuff.

But, truth be told, I am really glad he is leaving.

I am glad he will be leaving behind the monotony and mundane tasks that winter brought us. I’m glad Algebra & Anatomy have been put on hold for firebuilding, metal-working, ecology, and canoeing.

I am glad that he will be disengaged from all his gadgets, screens, the internet and TV for a period of time.

I am glad that he will be surrounded by fresh air and lake water, trees and grass, bugs, birds, forest creatures and nature sounds.

I am glad he is carving out a space where he can cultivate his independence – where he will be responsible, solely, for himself, including his own health and hygiene. Please tell me he will be responsible for his own hygiene 🙂

I am glad that he will experience a time to discover who he is outside of the circle of his three brothers. I am glad he can investigate who he is outside of the centrifugal force of family life.

I am glad he will be developing serious leadership skills in a structured and progressive program like BSA. I am glad that he will be forming new relationships and navigating the balance of the responsibilities he’s been given with personal time & relaxation.

See, I’m glad he’s leaving.

“In scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself
instead of being instructed”

~ Sir Robert Baden Powell

Aboard a Battleship

Disclaimer: I did not go on this trip. Although I would have really enjoyed the views from the deck, I had no interest in cramming myself into the tiny, under deck areas and closed sleeping quarters. Thank you, Dennis, for giving the boys such a great experience.

Battleship New Jersey is our Country’s largest and most decorated battleship and Dennis arranged for a Cub Scout/Boy Scout sleepover aboard the ship. They all came home full of facts and stories. When friends heard he took the boys, they offered stories of their own family members serving aboard the historic vessel. The boys were most impressed with the self-contained nature of the ship – from doctor to barber, laundry to the ability to fabricate parts and repair at sea.

The best way to learn about and understand history is when it is right under your own feet!

That’s my cue to fetch them some books and documentaries that include some of the New Jersey’s exploits.

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
― Confucius

A Long Post About A Short Phone Call

Let me set the scene. Mikey and Gavin are gone with Dennis to a scout engagement with a hockey game to follow, Sean is sleeping and Ethan is happily entertained in the house. It’s a pretty unique moment in time.
Although I usually go to every stinkin’ things the boys do spectate most activities, I decided that I would stay home, clean out my garden, do some work in the yard, etc. So, with this knowledge I start to plan the next several hours. I should have known better. 
The phone rings and it’s Dennis with a very simple request, ‘can you please bring Mikey’s hockey pants here, he forgot them.’ Even as I type it, it sounds so simple. Almost nothing around here is simple. I ask what time it is and what time he needs the pants. I have 45 minutes to get hockey pants 5 minutes away.
Here’s why it’s not easy. 
Sean is asleep and waking him results in at least 20 minutes of truly pathetic crying and I pray that he will magically wake up before I have to resort to waking him.
I realize that if I drive Sean and Ethan to the park where the scouting event is, they will figure out it is an Ice Cream Social and will want stay and have ice cream – understandably. But I now have a dirt-streaked face and arms, pants that are cruddy, and my hands and nails look like I am a heavy machine operator. My hair is greasy and I stink. I know that I will have to get out of the car and know that I am going to have to clean myself up.
I inform Ethan that we need to bring Mikey his hockey pants and he informs me that he does not want to go by throwing a couple of empty DS Game boxes at me. Remember, one of Ethan’s super-powers is his unrelenting negativity. I told him to quit the crap informed him that it was totally unacceptable to do that and to go get ready. He said no. 
Thank God, Sean woke up, but was no happier to hear that we were leaving the house as I had vehemently promised that he could play Wii as soon as he woke up. He screamed at me that I had lied to him let me know how disappointed he was. Please, Sean, get a shirt and some shoes. He said no.
Time is ticking and we are now down to 20 minutes. I raise my voice and plead with them to just get in the car. Then I realize that I have not yet located the pants and I could have just as easily left without them. Then, I turn to bribery. I told the two of them that if they would just get in the car, there would be ice cream. It had only a modest effect on them. But as I was putting the finishing touches on covering up just how dirty I was and locating the pants, I realized that they were waiting for me in the car. As I grab my keys and walk out the door I see that Sean is running around the back of our rental car (remember, we don’t have our van) because his car seat as been relocated to Dennis’ truck for my use. SH%&, D*&M, CR*P. Uh-oh. 
I call Dennis to tell him I don’t have a car seat for Sean and he says, ‘well, then, never mind, I’ll try to get there.’ I tell Ethan and Sean that we don’t need to go after all and they both throw their own particular brand of temper tantrum in response to having their ice cream bribe rescinded. Clock is still ticking. 
I quickly form a plan to beg a car seat off of my neighbor and it works! I put the car seat in and away we go. I back out, make a left and proceed down our street. Then I call Dennis and ask him where the ice cream social is being held! Armed with all the info I need, and even the pants, I make it to our destination. Ethan had no socks (and that is just a bad look for him) Sean had no shoes and I was not pulling of my pseudo-clean routine too well.

Because I was already at the venue where the hockey game was, I had got to stay for that too. So much for my plans and so much for ‘easy’.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.
The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

— Winston Churchill

Gavin – An Arrow of Light

I am a big fan of The Boy Scouts of America and of my boys being a part of it. All the boys, so far, have begun the ranks as Tiger Scouts (in fact they have all worn the same Tiger Scout hat and Sean will too). The first pack we were involved with was Branchburg Pack 315 because Ethan participated (and earned his Arrow of Light) at Midland School, which is located in Branchburg. Now we are involved in a pack in Greenbrook and enjoying it just as much.
Gavin works really hard on his cub scout requirements. I don’t think he can fit anymore belt loops on his belt! He has received very nice recognition for his ambitions. He is finishing up his Cub Scout years and was recently awarded the Arrow of Light.

The cermony focused on the boys having learned the Law of the Pack and meeting all the requirements for advancement. The Arrow of Light symbol was used and 7 candles were lit for each of the tenants of the arrow – Wisdom, Courage, Self-control, Justice, Faith, Hope and Love.

There are 10 purposes of  cub scouting and 12 Core values – Citizenship, Compassion, Cooperation, Courage, Faith, Health and Fitness, Honesty, Perseverance, Positive Attitude, Resourcefulness, Respect, Responsibility, all of which we strive to instill in our boys. Our experience has been that if you work at the program with your boys, these values come up time and again.
There are still alot of activities to look forward to this scouting year including the upcoming Klondike Derby, Pinewood Derby, and a Blue & Gold Awards Banquet and Spring Cubelos camping. I look forward to our boys’ continued participation in the scouting program, giving us years of challenge and fun ahead of us.
Congratulations, Gavin, for earning and being an Arrow of Light.

Gone to the Birds…& the stars

The boys attended a class at The Enviromental Education Center called “Wintertime Birds”. They learned to focus binoculars properly and identify certain winter birds. They filled the bird feeders and listened to bird calls. They learned information about other winter animals, fur and winter animal behavior. At home, we set up some bird feeders and a bird watching station (no one has a bird at the feeders yet). We are also completing some activities on eNature.com.

We will be participating in The Great Backyard Bird Count – maybe you’ll join us!

We also went to view “Wintertime Night Sky” at Raritan Valley Community College’s Planetarium. It taught us how to look for ‘asterisms‘ in the night sky. We got to see the sky at different times of night and it was really helpful – so helpful that we were able to come home and use our “Star Chart” and binoculars and actually find a bunch of stars we learned about – including Betelgeuse.

Sometimes kids just need a little exposure to something to get the wheels turning. Sometimes they don’t care less what they’ve seen. Sometimes it comes up days and weeks later in them asking for another class or books on a topic. I don’t see myself as my kids’ teacher, I’m their mother – and I choose to spend my time introducing them to all that’s out there.

“Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he is not interested, it is like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.” ~ Katrina Gutelben