When I first became a Den Mom, I inherited a handful of baby Bears and some newbie Cubs who were clamoring to earn a Bobcat badge. Two years later, I think I was more proud than their mothers while watching the four ceremoniously cross the bridge into Boy Scouts at an Arrow of Light ceremony.
I literally knew nothing about Cub Scouts when I first took the assignment from my Mormon bishop, and was mostly self-trained.
My husband is the bishop’s counselor over Primary and designated himself as Cubmaster, which meant our den’s organizational meetings took place in five-minute increments at the dinner table, during commercials of late-night news and on the sidelines of baseball diamonds or basketball courts.
I gleaned much after cleaning the Scout closet at the church and by taking home binders and manuals from past leaders that included sample calendars, lots of forms, Cub Scout idea books and a box of random patches.
My greatest triumph was teaming up with my mother-in-law in a neighboring ward and other capable Den Moms for our Wednesday after-school adventures. Our progress took another upward swing when my husband replaced himself with an experienced Cubmaster who loves the Scouting program and happily travels 30 miles to our monthly roundtables meetings.
We held the Arrow of Light ceremony at his home near the bank of our town’s beautiful (and currently bulging) river. More mosquitoes than people were in attendance so we welcomed everyone with a thick spray of insect repellent.
The setting sun peaked through pine trees and glistened off the river, creating a breathtaking backdrop as four Webelos in feather headdresses made a grand entrance behind the color guard.
Our Cubmaster crafted a simple ceremony that included lighting Cub Scout-colored candles as each pledged to continue to live the principles they had been taught through the program. They received the same colored stripes of facepaint on their cheeks in turn and received the coveted Arrow of Light patches from their parents.
The Boy Scout leader over the 11-year-old program in our ward stood on the other side of a homemade bridge to welcome the boys to their next adventure. He had taken them on a hike the Wednesday before with his group to establish himself as a new mentor and guide.
Each Arrow of Light recipient was then given an arrow with blue and yellow fletching as well as ornamentations of turkey feathers, coyote pelts, leather straps and beading. (Yes, in Montana, someone in the ward always has that stuff lying around).
Our local tradition at such events has historically included someone hiding in the brush and shooting flaming arrows into the night sky as each boy crosses the bridge. So near summer solstice in this northern part of the world, we would've had to wait until midnight for enough darkness, so we skipped that dramatic hazard and no one seemed to notice.
After handing out the rest of the Scouts’ advancement awards, everyone gathered around a table of potluck desserts where the boys piled plates with cookies, cupcakes and slices of watermelon.
One Webelo kept his feather headdress on for the entire evening as he ate and played with the other boys. I pulled him aside to take a portrait picture and he was kind enough to say, “This is really cool.”
His comment was payment enough for years of Cub Scout planning, playing and progression. After a short summer hiatus, I can’t wait to gather my little den of Cubs again and help my son and his friends keep moving toward their own Arrow of Light.