A troop of boys singing Christmas carols brought smiles to the seniors at Coral Plaza Margate on Dec. 2.
The boys, all dressed in their army green uniforms and hats, were all part of local Trail Life USA Troop FL-4035. The boys sang three carols to the seniors. Then they circulated the room, passing out candy canes and a Christmas tree craft.
The boys also each had a card with tic-tac-toe on one side and questions to ask the seniors on the other side, to prompt interactions with their elders.
“We had about a dozen boys that have no fear of anything. They’d walk up and talk to anyone,” said Catherine Aragon Cook of Coral Springs, committee chair for the troop. “Some of the other boys were a little more shy, but their dads were with them, so they went with them to ask the questions.”
Catherine’s son, Sterling, 7, was one of the fearless boys.
“It was so cute to see him pull up a chair next to this senior, his dangling feet barely touching the ground, in full uniform – hat, lanyard and badges – talking with this sweet woman,” Catherine said.
The boys asked positive questions to the seniors at the care center. Who was the most influential person the senior ever met? What was the most beautiful place they’ve ever visited? What was their favorite book when they were a child?
Sterling’s face lit up when his senior told him her favorite book.
“I’ve read that book, too!” he said.
Catherine said she learned a lot watching the interactions.
“Asking people about the most beautiful place they’ve visited reminded me that I should take my kids on vacations to see beautiful places so they have those experiences instead of just doing the same old routines each day,” she said.
“It made me think, ‘What’s my life story?’”
Learning to care for others
Trail Life Boys was founded 10 years ago and is sponsored by specific churches. The boys can earn badges in various skills and activities. The local troop is linked with First Baptist Church of Coconut Creek, and includes about 40 boys.
“Trail Life is an adventure group for boys with a Christian worldview focus,” said Jessica Summers of Coral Springs. “It’s a place where dads and sons can come together to have fun together outdoors, learning new skills outside.”
Each month, they focus on different branches, including heritage, sports, values, science and technology, or outdoor skills.
“The three main tenants are adventure, character and leadership,” said Troop Master Jacob Summers of Coral Springs. “What we hope they learn is that life is not just about them. We want them to care about the people around them.”
Community service is a huge part of the organization, and they do several service projects each year.
In addition to visiting the nursing home, the troup did Operation Christmas Child with First Baptist Church in November. The boys collected supplies, toys, clothes and packed the boxes for children in other countries in need of those things.
“It’s very important for the boys to know they need to serve others and give back to the community. I think that starts early,” Jessica said.
Bridging the generational divide
Jacob said visiting Coral Plaza Margate was a wonderful opportunity for the boys.
“You always hear about the generational divide,” Jacob said. “Generations don’t understand each other. They don’t know what drives or motivates the other. They grew up in different times. So getting to know each other better bridges that generational divide.”
Catherine hopes their troop can form a lasting relationship with the care center and its residents, and she would love to make this an annual tradition.
To connect your organization with seniors in the community, call Heart2Heart at 954-315-2218 and ask for the volunteer coordinator.