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Time to Step Up

For Brandon Foster, Volunteering As An Adult Leader Contributes To The Positive Change We Want In Society

Brandon Foster, right, with his family (left to right) Shepard, Brady, Finn, and Courtney.

Brandon Foster | Cubmaster Pack 3670

My father is deathly afraid of snakes.

He always has been. As a child, I saw my father as invincible and fearless. Being a third-generation Montana cattle rancher, Eldon does not give off the impression of being fearful. With that said, he will admit to the one exception he makes for slithering reptiles.

Years ago, Dad told me a story of his childhood that has stuck with me to this day. Being the youngest of three, there was always an adult or older sibling around the house to handle dangerous situations that tend to arise on a ranch. However, one warm summer afternoon when Dad was in his teens, a rattlesnake appeared from under the front steps of their humble home. Grandpa was helping neighbors, my aunt and uncle were working at their respective jobs, and Grandma was tending to her garden.

As we all learn in Scouts, a rattlesnake is nothing to trifle with. However, they simply cannot be ignored on a working cattle ranch. In addition to human risk, there are livestock (aka, “livelihood”) and the family dog, which do not fare well with a rattlesnake bite in remote Central Montana.

As Dad looked around for someone to “do something,” it occurred to him that he was the only one around in a position to “do something.”

Brandon Foster, right, and his father, Eldon.

As scared as he was, and as much as he wished he did not have to do it, he grabbed a shovel from the back of the farm truck and lopped off the head of that snake. Eldon’s moral of that story was simple, “Everyone reaches a point in their life where they realize that they are the adult, and they have to step up and do what must be done.”

What does this have to do with Scouting?

Quite a lot. “Snakes” could represent a host of negative things – dishonesty, corruption, immorality, bullying, social division, etc. You could make a pretty long list if you wanted to. I talk to many people in our community who are dissatisfied with the trajectory of our country. The general theme is that they wish things would “get better,” or that people would “learn to be kind,” or that our leaders would “care more about their constituents.”  Here is the thing – wishing for something to happen doesn’t make it happen. Just like Dad’s lesson from 60 years ago, if you want something to change, you’re going to have to take action at some point.

Seven years ago, during a special moment at our pack’s end-of-year celebration, the Cubmaster at the time (Joel Riendeau) gave an impassioned speech designed to recruit den leaders for next year’s program. I had no experience with Scouting, but my two oldest boys had joined the pack (a Tiger and an AOL) and were really loving Scouts.

I paused for a couple of minutes, scanning the room, hoping other parents would raise their hands to volunteer to be den leaders for the Wolves next year. When the hands never went up and no one seemed to want to make eye contact with Joel, it struck me – “If you want these kids to be able to experience all that Scouting has to offer, YOU need to step up and make it happen.”

Since that pivotal moment

I have served as den leader for six years, Advancement Chair for five years, and start my second year as Cubmaster in the fall. It has not always been easy.

Scrambling every Sunday night to come up with activities for the Monday Den Meeting can be frustrating. Every new crop of Scouts brings with it new personalities and behavioral challenges. With that said, the rewards consistently outweigh the struggles. Helping those Bears earn their Whittling Chip and then seeing them proudly present the perfect marshmallow roaster they crafted at the campfire – that’s the good stuff.

“Here is the thing – wishing for something to happen doesn’t make it happen … if you want something to change, you’re going to have to take action at some point.”

For me, volunteering as an adult leader in Scouts is a way to contribute to the positive change we all want to see in our society. Things did not get off the rails overnight, and the fix is not instant either. Imagine what a different world we would live in if, one generation from now, most of our citizens lived by the 12 points of the Scout Law!

That dream might not be attainable, but at this point, I think we would all be excited by the prospect of even a handful of Congressmen who were Trustworthy, Loyal, and Helpful!

I see Scouting as the long game to building better communities. It is going to take a lot of young people who understand the Scouting mission to change the world. The only way that can happen is with adult leaders. Neckerchiefs, belt loops, and Merit Badges do not make the Scouting program the success it is. Adult Leaders do. Scouts need, more than anything right now, adults who care about young people and are willing to show it by donating their time and talents to deliver the Scouting mission.

Will you step up?

Brandon Foster is a Petroleum Engineer and Cubmaster of Pack 3670. His wife Courtney and their 3 sons (Eagle, Life, and Webelos) live and work in Bozeman Montana. Eldon is now retired but is still afraid of snakes.

Interested in volunteering or registering a youth for Scouting? Enter your zip code below to find a unit near you. Or contact the Montana Council Scout office at (406) 541-1009.

Cub Scouts
Grades K–5
Scouts BSA
Ages 11-17
Ages 14-20
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