As a kid, I got all the way to the top of Cub Scouts, but I never became a Boy Scout. I quit before I made the jump.
Why did I quit scouts?
I’ve thought about this a lot recently as I see friends’ kids become Eagle Scouts. Why didn’t I go all the way to Eagle? I was certainly capable of it. My parents wanted me to. My scoutmaster was a nice guy.
Here’s the thing I keep coming back to I earned the top rank in Cub Scouts a full year before anyone else in my troop. I got my Arrow of Light and then waited around for 12 months while the next kid caught up.
So why did I quit scouts? It’s simple: my parents put me in the wrong troop.
They put me in the troop affiliated with my home school, where I only went to kindergarten, not the gifted magnet school where I spent the rest of elementary school. Perhaps my parents did this because they thought it would be good for me to spend time with “regular” kids. I think that’s a pretty common sentiment. I certainly don’t blame them for thinking it.
But it was not good for me.
I quit scouts because I felt weird and out of place. At school, I could chat on and on with friends about whatever our latest weird obsession was. No one in my troop wanted to have those kinds of conversations with me. I vividly remember feeling unable to fit in. My scoutmaster was really the only person I could talk to! But who wants to be the kid who talks to the adult the whole time!?
When I hear folks say that gifted kids should be grouped with everyone else, I think back to this feeling of not-fitting-in with my scout troop. When I compare it to the feeling of fitting in with my peers at school, it was night and day.
Now I liked scouting itself. I loved (loved!) earning badges and wearing my uniform and reading the scout books. I obviously sped through all the levels! But I didn’t like going to scouts because I was simply in the wrong group.
Had my parents put me in the scout troop with my peers, I’m almost certain I would have stuck with it longer. I would have had friends to talk to. I would have had some competition to push me. I would have fit in. I may even have become an Eagle Scout! Maybe.