DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Proud Mom in Ohio," who was upset about the Cub Scout derby races, I recalled our solution to the problem of overly helpful parents.
In the U.S. Air Force, we had a real problem with actual rocket scientists and aerodynamic engineers. Some of the entries were so near perfection that we Cub pack leaders came up with the solution of classes of competition: beauty, speed, uniqueness, and the obvious "car completely built by the Cub Scout himself." The last category became the most coveted prize at the event.
Because members of the military are often subject to unplanned absences, we instituted a system whereby other fathers would fill in and assist a boy without a dad. When I supervised, I always insisted on "elbow grease" that resulted in a good job even by those young boys. My sons complained that I was overly enthusiastic when a youngster I assisted beat them. Their comment: "Did you HAVE to help him so good?" -- LARRY KRUGER, MAJOR, USAF (Ret.), VICTORVILLE, CALIF.
DEAR LARRY: Many readers identified with that letter. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I speak from experience when I say that "Proud Mom" can make a difference. Scout programs are run by volunteers. Cub packs have monthly committee meetings where these events are discussed and planned far in advance. She should join the pack committee and suggest changes in the way the derby is run to ensure that it is done fairly.
I have volunteered at all levels of the Boy Scout program, from den mother to assistant scoutmaster. The Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs need parents like "Proud Mom in Ohio," and I know her comments would be greatly appreciated. -- JO-ANNE CAMMORATA, HANOVER, MASS.
DEAR JO-ANNE: You're right. Change has to come from within.