The Crossover

During the month of February thousands of 5th grade boys will experience the crossover. This is a traditional Scouting ceremony where a Webelos Scout crosses from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.

I had the opportunity to see my first crossover of the year on Monday this week. The symbolism of this event is striking and brings me chills each time I witness it. Yes it is nice ceremony full of tradition. It is also and wonderful rite of passage that symbolizes a passing from childhood and elementary school to adolescence and middle school.

During the ceremony, the boys are led dramatically into the room by older Boy Scouts in Native American regalia from the Order of the Arrow. They are bound together with a rope that has loosely been tied to their wrists. Next they are then presented to the “Chief” who is there to determine their worthiness to leave Cub Scouts and join the brotherhood of Boy Scouts. Before long, the ropes are cut as the speaker says they are no longer bound to their past. In the final step of the ceremony, the boys pass one by one over a bridge and are greeted on the other side by Boy Scouts representing the Troop they have chosen to join.

For thousands of years and in cultures around the world, boys (and girls) have participated in symbolic passages into new stages of life. These rites are missing in most of our American culture and as a father I am working consciously to provide “crossover” opportunities for my son.

The Cub Scout crossover a couple of years back, a father son backpacking trip for “the talk” last spring break and next a week long adventure the summer after his eighth grade year. Each in my mind with a clear and planned objective so he will know things have changed. Something is behind him and now something different is ahead of him.

I wonder how different our world would be if more parents were working to be deliberate in raising their boys to be men. I have no idea what the future will hold for my son. I do know at least that words like honor, integrity, passion and respect will never be strangers to him. Nor will they be strangers to those Cub Scouts who in one brief moment joined together and spoke worlds that if truly lived by all would change the would forever. “On my honor…”