In my Minneapolis Ward, there are barely enough children to have a Scouting program. In fact, our 11 year-old scout patrol is combined with a neighboring ward – and we still only have three boys enrolled in the patrol. Last night, only one was present – and he arrived 15 minutes late, right as the other scoutmaster and I were getting ready to leave.
We began scouts by reciting the scout oath and law, and by demonstrating the scout handshake and salute, but quickly realized that our lone scout for the evening (who has Down Syndrome)simply didn’t have the attention span to continue with official scout business this evening. So we went outside and threw a frisbee around for a while. Soon, though, our lone scouter told us that he didn’t want to play frisbee anymore – he wanted to play baseball. We tried to convince him that we couldn’t play baseball because we didn’t have any mitts, baseballs, or bats, but he wouldn’t be convinced. So we played baseball.
For the next few minutes, we threw an imaginary baseball to eachother. The other scoutmaster pretended to pitch, I pretended to catch and be the umpire, and our scouter lined up to the plate. Each time a ball was pitched I called either “ball”, “strike”, or “foul ball,” and the scout would try to convince me I was wrong. But on the next pitch I called, “HIT! RUN! RUN! RUN!” So he ran, grinning ear to ear. I chased him around the bases, also grinning, and told him that if I caught up to him he was out. I couldn’t catch him.
So as I chased him around the bases, halfway through my first game of imaginary baseball, realized how grateful I am that the LDS church allows me to be a part of this scouter’s life, and how grateful I am that he’s part of mine. I hoped that this scout would fondly remember the time he spent as a scout – just like I fondly remember the scout activities I participated in when I was his age. I thought of some of the wonderful scoutmasters and YM leaders that had had an impact on me growing up, and I hoped I was living up to the example they set.
I’m grateful for that game of imaginary baseball with an 11 year-old scout, I’m grateful for the game of “frisbee four-square” that followed, and I’m grateful to be a part of the LDS church.