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Mom juggles work with Cubs, Brownies

By JULIANNE WU

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 31, 2000


LARGO -- Joan Parker is devoted to scouting.

Parker, 41, is co-leader of Brownie Troop 248. She also is a Cub Scout den leader and a cubmaster responsible for an entire Cub Scout pack -- about 19 boys aged 7 to 10 involved in Tigers, Cub Scouts and Webelos.

In addition to weekly den meetings, she also holds monthly pack meetings. She meets weekly with Brownies during the school year at Largo's Southwest Recreation Complex in Largo. It is Parker's fourth year with the Brownies and her fifth with the Cub Scouts.

"I do it so my kids can be in scout programs," said Parker, who also works full time in the office at Oak Grove Middle School during the school year and watches seven school-age youngsters while their parents work during the summer.

Her daughter, Dayna, 7, is a Brownie, and her son, Ross, 10, is a Webelo. "When I wanted to sign my kids up for Scouts at Fuguitt Elementary (where Ross will be a fifth-grader and Dayna will be a third-grader), those in charge said: "Good. How about becoming a leader?' "

Much of her time is spent juggling Brownie and Cub Scout activities. "I constantly have to switch gears," she said. "They're both scouting, but they're a lot different."

Parker, or "Miss Joan" as she is called by her scouts, goes on camping trips with the Girl Scouts and accompanies them to many "behind-the-scenes" tours to places such as the Lowry Park Zoo, MOSI, Busch Gardens and farms.

As a den leader, she is helping her son, Ross, and the other Webelos to achieve their "Arrow of Light" badge.

"It's the highest badge the boys can earn as Cub Scouts," Mrs. Parker said. They should receive their awards in December.

This is the last year Parker will be involved as a Cub Scout leader. Next year, her son, Ross, will "cross over" to the Boy Scouts. At that level, she said, the leaders are all men.

Like many other leaders, Parker was a Girl Scout. She believes in the organization.

"There is a desperate need for girls to become scouts. It gives them a sense of themselves," she said. "So many girls miss out because they don't have enough leaders.

"There are people who legitimately can't afford the time to be a leader, but for others who really want their kids in Girl Scouts, they can't just sit and complain about it."

She is her own best example of busy people who work full time and still find time for scouting.

"I find being a scout leader one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," said Parker. "Sure, sometimes I have to set the alarm clock to get up an hour earlier and sometimes I have to stay up late at night. Even though it's stressful at times, I have formed lifelong friendships and so have my kids."

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