I created the Superstar Kids Club to track my journey completing everything necessary to be awarded the Boy Scouts’ highest honor of Eagle Scout. I chose to do this with my family instead of the Boy Scouts of America because I found I wasn’t learning very much with BSA compared to all I’d learned with my Dad during Cub Scouts.
In Cub Scouts I joined as a Bear and was the only member of my Pack to complete all but one elective in the Bear book. Then we did an advanced track and completed all the requirements for the Nova Award and then earned all 6 of the possible π pins. Completing this, we even started going backwards and doing the activities in the Wolf book.
When I graduated to Webelos, my Dad and I worked together and completed all 27 of the requirements and electives. Again, I was the only Scout in my Pack to do this and in most cases we did more than what was required. Below are three videos I created as part of the Nova and Webelos requirements. I share them here as examples of how we went “above and beyond” with most of what we did.
This video was created for the NOVA Science “Out of This World” award. The requirements for creation were, “Design on paper an inhabited base located on Mars or the moon,” and “Draw or build a model of your base using recycled materials.” I used recycled materials and papier-mâché to build the base and stop-motion with FinalCutPro and 415 pictures to create the animation. This full project took 28 hours to complete.
This video was created for the NOVA Science “Down and Dirty” award. The requirement for creation was to, “Build or draw a volcano model.” I used papier-mâché layered over a frame of straws to build the model. Then I used smoke bombs and a reaction of baking powder and vinegar to create the “eruption.” I used FinalCutPro to create the video.
MEASURE EVERYTHING WITH BEAVERS
This video was created for the Maestro! badge. The requirement for creation was, “Teach your den the words and melody of a song. Perform the song with your den at your den or pack meeting.” I recreated the song “Shape of You” in GarageBand using a tutorial on Youtube, then I wrote new lyrics, sang it, and edited it and put it all together in GarageBand to produce the final product. I used PhotoShop to create the video imagery and FinalCutPro to create the video. Once complete, I played the video for my den, taught them all the lyrics, and we performed it as a group for all the parents.
After 3 years of experiences and creating projects like this, I had high expectations moving on to Boy Scouts. Switching to Boy Scouts though turned out to not be as family oriented. The emphasis was on being “boy led” and this just wasn’t as much fun. I also felt there was more emphasis on formalities, weekly meetings, and paperwork instead of learning, doing activities, and spending time in nature.
So after a few months of meetings, several activities, and trying out 2 different troops, we came up with the Superstar Kids Club and creating this website to track our progress instead.
Hakan and I joined Scouts for the activities and all we saw we could learn. Everything they teach are things I’m interested in too, so I became and Assistant Scout Master for the Pack and made it a point to be a part of the entire learning process at home with Hakan too. We’ve always done the activities to really learn all we can. We’re also working on learning many other things (web design, video and graphic design, advanced Science, Math, and Writing, etc.) so I’ve tried to integrate those in too. This often means going way beyond the minimum requirements and I make it fun so we both have fun and enjoy the process.
Switching to Boy Scouts was a big change from what we were doing in Cub Scouts. We didn’t have enough boys graduating to Scouts to start our own Troop, so we started looking into existing ones. This proved challenging and disappointing for several reasons.
At the time of us making the decision to find a Troop, the organization was in the news a lot. There were thousands of reported instances of sexual inappropriateness and molestation being revealed and even the recent death of a scout due to lack of proper supervision. This had led to so many lawsuits that the very solvency of the organization was being threatened. BSA filed for bankruptcy, dues were being increased to cover legal fees and increases in insurance costs, and extensive new background checks were implemented to try and address what was determined to be a systemic problem within the BSA.
As a parent, these things were concerning but not deal breakers for me. I assumed being present in his Troop as an Assistant Scout Master myself would assure I wouldn’t have to worry about these things. Participating in two different Troops and several months of meeting indicated this was not the case.
“Boy led” being the BSA mantra turned out to be my first big disappointment. On the one hand I understood the reasoning for this being to teach the boys responsibility and leadership. On the other hand, I saw it creating a huge lack of oversight and guidance. Parents in the Troop were telling me, “don’t worry, the boys are taking care of each other,” but that was not what I saw when I was able to observe. Hakan reported the same after events.
Boys leading also meant boys teaching the other boys. The quality of such education, while probably good experience for the boys doing the teaching, was way below what Hakan was used to while working with experienced and knowledgeable adults in Cub Scouts and other learning areas. It was also far below what I was seeking for both he and I.
On top of this, women were only allowed on certain events, so there were minimal full-family outings. This was another area that was disappointing and completely different from what we’d enjoyed in Cub Scouts. Instead of Scouting events being family events, now they were events my wife couldn’t even participate in and I didn’t get to do with my son either.
All-in-all it just wasn’t a good fit for a family like ours and we’ve been very glad ever since that we made the decision to do this on our own. We still participate in events with our old Cub Scouts troop and we’re independently completing everything from the Boy Scouts requirements. Hakan’s friends from the Cub Scouts Pack are usually invited and sometimes join us, but mostly we love just doing everything together as a family.
I only have 50% custody of my son and skipping the massive time requirements for 2 meetings a week, all the paperwork, leadership trainings, side events, and trying to plan things with huge groups, etc. gives us much more time to do things together. Choosing this approach has also removed all the (steadily increasing) expenses associated with BSA. Now we put all the time and these resources into activities together as a family. This allows us to continue to really do the requirements, learning the information fully rather than just going through the motions, and we all learn and grow from the experiences. And for the leadership-by-leading aspect, I see Hakan getting that through his martial arts and other areas.