I’ve been an adult Scouter since September of 1988. This is my twenty-fifth season working with the youth of Massachusetts.
The school shootings in Newtown, CT have had a profound effect on me over this past weekend. Not only looking at my own son and wondering “what if”, but as a scout leader. I’ve had the great privilege and joy of being Cubmaster of my local unit for the last four years.
One of the things I enjoy most is recruiting – it’s always great to get out there and talk to potential new scouts about what we do and the benefits of the program. As such, I’m often the first point of contact for new scouts and their parents….boys of the same age as many of the shooting victims.
Indeed, as you may have heard, Cub Scout Pack 170 in Newtown lost two Tiger Scouts on Friday, Chase Kowalski and Benjamin Wheeler. Both were new, and had only been scouts for a matter of a months.
Neither of these boys had a chance to grow up. Indeed, neither of them had much chance to be Scouts. I always think of the program as turning boys into men, but these scouts were so young they had barely figured out how to be boys.
Like most of you, I’ve been going over this in my head again and again. I’m a teacher too; only I do it on a volunteer basis for “love of the game”. I’ve said it for years, not only did I have my own son to worry about, and the boys in his den…as Cubmaster, the entire pack was “my kids”, too. I can’t imagine what my counterpart must be going through in Connecticut. What can he do? What would any of us do in the same situation?
We had our Pack Meeting this past Friday evening, before I knew the impact on the Scouting community. It was our Christmas meeting…we had a Marine, did our annual Toys For Tots presentation and donations, and went upstairs to the gym for a packwide “snowball fight” with balled-up paper.
But imagine for a moment if two of those scouts were never coming back…and 3 more families lost a sibling. Even with my pack as big and healthy as it is, I think it would be devastating.
What really bothers me the most though, is that none of my training, nothing I know, nothing I could have done would have made the slightest difference. There is Youth Protection Training, but that is more concerned with fending off abusers and bullies. Something like what happened in Newtown is so beyond comprehension, there just isn’t any guideline on what we might possibly do.
I’ve been a First Aider and First Responder for about 20 years now, and none of that training would have done any good either. We’ve all read that the injuries on the students was so massive that there was little anyone could do to save any of them.
This is my world. I manage my scouts…I train them in First Aid, and now I train other adults on what to do to make your pack successful and how to do it. All of it, completely irrelevant in light of what happened.
You all will excuse me as my world comes crashing down around me. I said it yesterday…Scouting rarely makes me cry, but it has for two days in a row now.
I really don’t know that there is anything any of us could have done.