Can volunteering as a Scouting leader make you a better parent?

In 2009, Josh Rubio signed up his then first grader for Cub Scouts…and ended up immediately becoming a parent volunteer.

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“They mentioned that one of the parents needed to step up,” he remembers. “When nobody took the lead, I decided that I would. I’ve been in leadership ever since.” Josh and son Jacob started their Scouting adventure together.

Of course, Josh wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I wanted to have father-son moments,” Josh says. “Jacob was a year-and-a-half old when we divorced. This was the perfect outlet for me to have one-on-one quality time with him aside from picking him up and running around.”

rubio2Providing leadership with other parents didn’t get in the way of that goal either, particularly on camping trips. “At the end of the night, it was still me and Jacob in a tent,” Josh says. “We could read a story, write in our journal, and keep track of all of our accomplishments whether it was belt loops or merit badges.”

As Jacob grew…and Josh’s volunteer responsibilities increased…the Scouting program still met that initial need for father-son bonding. “In the Boy Scout years, they tend to go off with their group,” Josh says. “But for me, it was great. I really enjoyed the recap at the end of the night in the tent.”

rubio3And Josh takes advantage of the many perks of being an adult leader. “I enjoyed summer camp,” he says. “What 40-year-old gets to go shoot rifles, shoot arrows, build fires, eat smores, and sing campfire songs? Every night I got to swim, play, and enjoy it with my son.”

He is also a first-hand witness of the many ways Jacob has grown and matured. “I’m really proud that my son has been able to achieve things,” Josh says. “I’ve seen a difference in him.”

Sometimes it’s the little things. “At home, he tends to be a little more comfortable or lazy than he is outside of the home,” he says. Josh had given Jacob a new hammock, and when he wanted to set it up, Josh had things to finish before helping him.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll come and get you.’ Then I realized he had never come to get me, and I peeked my head outside, and he’s already got it hung up and tied with his knots and everything.”

It made Josh proud to see Jacob taking initiative at home the way he does at Scouting activities. “Here he was doing it on his own, and to me, that was great. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got to watch over him, but then I realize he’s ok. It lets me step back and help another kid who might need that attention. He’s made me proud seeing him do things on his own.”

Other times it’s the bigger life lessons Jacob learns with his fellow Scouts. “My son plays football, he’s the sporty kid,” Josh says. “But he’ll sit down at a campfire and talk to somebody that might be in a totally different social environment than him.”

Helping all kids feel included is a Scouting value Josh imparts to all of the boys. “It’s a very diverse group of kids,” he says. “They all come together for the purpose of trying to prepare for life and to be better citizens. To me, that’s been a unique experience that I can’t find anywhere else. I feel really good about the fact that we cultivate an environment where the boys feel that comfortable.”

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Today Josh serves as Scoutmaster of his son’s troop and hopes to encourage other parents to take that first step to volunteer. “I would encourage anybody to get involved if they have any interest but are intimidated by the unknown,” he says. “It’s very organized for you. You pull together with different adults to make it happen.

“I don’t have to be an outdoor woodsman or a green beret knowing knots and how to start a fire,” he adds. “I can just be a regular father who works every day and has other commitments. I can still get involved and learn as I go through it with my son.”

Explore the opportunity to volunteer:

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