Joseph Trenton Parks is happy to be a Cub Scout.
J.T. as he is called, joined the scouts when he was a first grader. He’s now a fifth grader at Cedar Ridge Intermediate in Branson. He’s as happy with scouting as ever.
“I like doing good deeds and helping other people,” the 10-year-old explained. “It looked interesting so I joined because I wanted to help people. It’s been interesting.”
J.T. and his comrades in scouting all around the country will mark the anniversary of the creation of the Boy Scouts of America in February. The BSA is the umbrella organization over Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts, Webleos Scouts and Cub Scouts in the United States. The BSA was founded in 1910, and since then, more than 110 million Americans have been participants in scouting programs at some time. February 2018 marks the organization’s 108th year.
Doing good deeds
J.T. and his scout buddies do good deeds around the community. One event they tackle every year is taking cards and flowers to residents of area nursing homes on Grand Parents Day. It can be an emotional experience for the young scouts and the residents alike. The scouts also participate in other charitable activates by picking up trash and helping out nonprofits.
“We collect food for the local food pantry in Branson,” he said. “Scouts have taught me how to help in the community.”
J.T.’s mom, Sue, has been along for the scouting ride from the beginning.
“I’ve been involved all along the way working side by side with J.T.,” Sue said. “I ended up going to a den meeting and it seemed like perfect fit for us. I saw a need for organization and that they could use some help.”
Soon Sue became more involved in J.T.’s den and pack meetings and activities. She didn’t want to simply sit in the shadows.
“I’m a teacher and educator,” she said. “I thought I could help. The cub master asked me to be a co-leader and it’s been that way since. I wanted to work side by side with my son. I wanted to cheer him and the other boys on. I wanted to get involved and not be on the sidelines.”
J.T. doesn’t mind having his Mom along for the ride. It brings them closer together.
“It encourages me to keep pushing forward,” he said. “I’m going to get my Eagle and she keeps me going for it.”
The big race
One annual activity that Cub Scouts all anticipate is the Pinewood Derby. Scouts turn blocks of soft pine into racing cars and compete to see whose car is fastest, best designed and most creatively decorated. J.T. seems to have a knack for the competition.
“I’ve been through the Pinewood Derby four times,” he said. “I won first place for speed and I’ve won something each year.”
J.T has even snagged the top honor for most creative car in the past, he added.
Pinewood Derby has taught J.T. a valuable lesson.
“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter about your place in the race,” he said. “It only matters that put your determination in it. It’s about keeping going.”
“Scouting,” Sue said, “teaches life skills.”
J.T. seemed a little more concerned with some more practical skills.
“I want to learn survival skills,” he said. “I want to learn whittling and stuff like that.“
As J.T. advances into the Boy Scouts and starts to earn merit badges and fills out his list of desired life skills, he will continue to look forward. Learning life and survival skills is important. But, scouting often comes down to just one really important thing: Friendships.
“In scouts you get to hang out with friends and make new friends,” he said. “It’s just a really special thing to be in. When I get my Eagle I’m going to feel really, really proud.”