After a recent gathering of Cub Scout den leaders, we realized we could have held the same meeting at 4:30 that morning.
Was it coincidence we all suffered from insomnia? Maybe. But the indisputable fact remains — running a Mormon Cub Scout program plagues the subconscious.
And so, hours before sunrise on a dark snowy morning when sleep was a nuisance, we den leaders were reading Scout manuals, making check lists, recording dates of completion and gathering craft supplies for holiday projects.
We were baking cookies for after-school snacks, making posters and planning for next year's pack meetings by cross-referencing calendars from every possible organization so as not to overlap or double schedule.
We were preparing order forms for badges and straining to remember attendance for the last four weeks, so we knew which boy needed to make up what requirements at home.
We were typing newsletters, filing papers in boys' individual binders and sorting photographs. We were comparing requirements for Wolves, Bears and Webelos to see how a combined activity could benefit the progress of each boy.
We were gathering receipts for reimbursement, wondering how to inspire a busy family to bring their boy to weekly activities and trying to think of a mentor in the ward with hidden talents for magic tricks or building catapults.
We were reading registration information for Klondike, searching for a ball of nylon rope and wondering if singing in the Primary program would count for showman achievements.
We were trying to decipher the handwriting of a daydreaming 9-year-old boy as he described what makes America special and worried if thank-you notes from the fundraiser were all delivered.
By that time, our stomachs reminded us we'd been up for hours. So in between bites of yogurt, we thumbed through hand-me-down binders from past den leaders, searched the Internet for skit ideas and wondered if moms would mind if we gave the boys pocket knives for Christmas.
We thumbed through the latest issue of Scouting magazine, counted the number of Pinewood Derby patches in our stash and wondered if we'd ever get an assistant.
We folded extra kerchiefs, wrote down the birthdays of all 7-year-old boys in the ward and e-mailed Scout moms to ask who could help with carpooling.
We sent more e-mails to the Primary president to inform her of our upcoming schedule, made room reservations with the church building coordinator and sent an announcement to the person charged with creating the Sunday bulletin so our service project could be announced to the ward for support.
We unloaded the box from the last pack meeting and sorted blue plastic table clothes into two piles to either discard or reuse. We sharpened pencils for the next writing activity and made copies of invitations to the next event.
We practiced doing the Cub Scout promise in sign language, found our borrowed library book on tall tales and strategized how to handle a perpetual behavior problem among the boys.
We wrote down the date for the next roundtable meeting knowing full well we might not make it and organized extra manuals and materials on a shelf in our office.
As the sun peeked over the mountain and through our window, we sewed a patch, threw our uniform in the wash and wondered what life was like before Cub Scouting commanded so much attention.
With a little yawn, we faced our real-life duties of dishes, breakfast, toddler dressing, school-lunch making, bed straightening, taxi driving, laundry, bathroom cleaning and, oh yeah, that mid-morning Cub Scout meeting with the other den moms.