Story by Melanie Mays of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council
“What in the world are you kids gonna do with 50 cups of coffee?” the clerk at the truck stop asked my 7-year-old daughter, Dakota and 10-year-old son, Demarkus.
I just grinned and let the kids explain. After all, it was their idea.
Demarkus spoke first, “We had to leave our house in Florida and go to North Carolina because Hurricane Irma was coming. Now we’re driving back home since the storm is gone. My mom was telling us about how all the truckers are bringing water and supplies to help the people in places that got hit by the hurricane. She explained how hard truckers work and how much people depend on the supplies they are bringing.
So, I got to thinking, Mom ALWAYS needs lots of coffee when she has to drive a long way. And truckers drive a lot, so I’ll bet they would like some coffee, too!”
Dakota chimes in, “When we were at my friend’s house, we got to make tons of Kindness Rocks. We picked our favorite rocks, painted them and put nice words on them. We are bringing them home so we can set them all over the place for people to find, and hopefully the rocks will make people happy. We were at my friend’s house for a long time waiting for that hurricane to pass, so we made a lot of rocks!”
“Yeah, so, it was MY idea to buy coffee for all the truckers and my sister’s idea to give them Kindness Rocks, too.” Demarkus explained to the clerk.
“Well,” the clerk nodded her head toward the parking lot where the truckers were waiting to get the all-clear to head into Florida, “you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got trucks, and we’ve got coffee. How about I make you a deal? I’ll give you a nice discount. How does $20 for all 50 sound?”
My kids were so excited. What could I do? I reached into my pocket and proudly plopped down our last $20.
It was quite a thing to witness. My two kids enthusiastically greeting bleary-eyed truckers as they entered the convenience store –– Dakota holding out Kindness Rocks and Demarkus offering them a free cup of coffee!
The truckers were a combination of confused and grateful. When they would ask the kids why they were doing this Demarkus replied, “We figure you probably had to drive a long way here to help people, so we want to help you.”
Some of the truckers offered to pay the kids for the coffee. Some stayed and chatted, describing what they were hauling to Florida. I can honestly say, all left the truck stop smiling.
When we started back on the road, the kids could hardly contain themselves. They now had a very unique story about a “Good Turn” they’d done, and they couldn’t wait to share it with their pack.
This story is just one example of why, for me, there has never been a question whether Scouting is worth the time, effort and money.
It hasn’t always been easy. A couple of years ago I had no idea how everything was going to work out. My two young children and I had moved from the only home they’d ever known in the rolling hills of North Carolina to a small sea-side community in Florida. Our lives had been very unpredictable.
While I was looking for a permanent place to live, we had to stay in a motel and balance everything that comes with a long-distance move, plus find a job, go to work, and get the kids settled in school. It was a lot of juggling, and I wanted to make sure to set aside time to really connect with my kids and help them feel “at home” in this new city. I had to find a way to get us out of that cramped motel room, if just for one night a week. I made a decision long ago about what kind of kids I wanted to put into this world. I knew exactly where we would go.
I found out when and where the next Cub Scout meeting was going to be held and the rest is history. When we entered the room for our first Cub Scout meeting, I watched the swirl of activity around me, wondering how we fit into this picture. Demarkus, being rather shy, stuck close to me while Dakota buzzed around the room like a bee meeting other kids. There were parents chatting in a corner and a few very busy folks in uniforms arranging chairs and moving tables.
At this meeting I found out the pack was shrinking because parent volunteers were crossing over with their kids to the Scouts BSA troop. So I raised my hand once that night and BAM! I’m a den leader. Just like that, I was leading my first wolf den, and Demarkus had 6 new friends. I definitely had more questions than answers, and my fellow Scout families were right there to help me figure everything out.
If I were to make a list of what I have in common with the other families in my pack, it would be quite short. We don’t live, shop or worship in the same areas. But we bond around the vision and dreams we have for our kids. The values and morals of Scouting connect us. People I never would have met are now my best friends. They are my family, my Scouting family.
As a parent, how do I know I am raising the best kids I can? I look for evidence. Evidence like my kids helping others by giving away free coffee and Kindness Rocks. I watch how they treat those they don’t know. I see how they pay respect to those who sacrifice. I witness the gratitude they put into the world. We can’t expect schools to provide all the skills and lessons necessary for kids to become leaders. This is why I choose Scouting.
Melanie, thank you for telling your Scouting story! The love and friendship connecting you and the other families in Pack 8 is but one reason your pack now has over 100 Cubs! As evidenced by the kindness Demarkus and Dakota readily show to others, you are raising our future leaders to show compassion and gratitude.
Thank you for choosing Scouting. We are grateful for the time, talent and treasure you so readily give. Scouting only happens because of people like you!