Skating, Scouting, and Family Fitness
By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes
Scouters Bob and Joan Lee believe in family fun and fitness. The parents of three boys, they say the key to a successful family is doing things together.
Not long ago, Life Scout John Lee of Bel-Nor, Mo., was brainstorming some new and different activities for his troop.
“I figured we could either go bowling or skating,” John recalls.
So he took out the phone book, called the nearby Skate King roller rink, and asked about its hours and prices.
“I brought the information back to the troop, and all of the Scouts, plus their parents, wanted to go skating,” John says.
The Skate King outing received a big thumbs-up. Eighteen months later, what started as a popular troop activity has grown into a favorite pastime of John Lee and his family: dad, Bob; mom, Joan; and older brothers, Bobby and Paul.
Cedric Davis, vice president of operations at Skate King, remembers when the Lees started skating lessons.
When they first came in, “none of them could stand up on their skates,” said Davis.
But the family’s athleticism surprised him, and he was amazed at how quickly they picked up skating skills.
A home gym
The Lee family is athletic. Their two-car garage houses a fitness club-like gym with assorted weight-lifting equipment and exercise machines. Even their neighbors come by to work out.
Last year, thanks to regular workouts in the gym, Joan and Bob won a combination of six gold and silver medals in three weight-lifting events at the St. Louis Senior Olympics.
Bobby, a captain on his high school’s wrestling team, spends hours in the gym working out. John, who placed third in a Junior Skatemasters’ competition last year, practices his basketball skills on the court; he also attended wrestling camp the past two summers. And before Paul left home for graduate school, he was mascot for Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., a role requiring him to help lift cheerleaders in formation during sports events and halftime shows.
Spreading their ‘skating fever’
Because the Lees’ skating abilities have attracted attention, fellow skaters often ask them for tips and help.
“They’ve caught skating fever,” said Skate King’s president, Matthew Foggy, describing his several-times-a-week patrons.
However, the family’s skating sessions are a far cry from monotonous circling the rink.
Bobby and John are most likely “jam skating” (executing creative routines in the middle of the floor) or “dance skating” with musical rhythms during a teen skate.
Joan might relax by skating backward, while Bob could be gliding across the floor, periodically punctuating his smooth style with a creative series of steps others call “The Bob.”
The Lees enjoy mixing up their skating routines with different types of music. Skate King has all kinds, including contemporary, oldies, gospel, and hip-hop.
When Paul came home from college after his family began skating, he wasn’t surprised when they asked him to get involved, too.
“They said: ‘We’re doing roller skating now, so we need to get you a new pair of skates,’” recalls Paul with a grin.
Reflecting a can-do spirit
Doing activities together is standard operating procedure for the Lees.
“Our family is one tight-knit group,” said Paul. “No matter what we do, our family does it together—whether it is on the front lines or behind the scenes, supporting—we are always there with each other.”
Skating and fitness routines in the family gym are just two of the many activities Lee family members share. Joan enjoys singing in the family’s church choir. Other interests include their city, schools, sports teams, charity, and Scouting. With each, the Lees operate with a can-do spirit, a spirit that their community has recognized.
In 2003, Catholic Family Services in the Archdiocese of St. Louis presented Bob and Joan one of its annual Family Life Awards “in recognition of their commitment to family values.”
In 2004, the Mid-County Partners for Progress, a community development organization, honored the Lee family with its annual award for having a positive impact on the community.
Joan said that the honors were unexpected surprises.
“We’re just going through life, doing what we can to help other people. We’re doing what we need to do to keep our family together and moving forward. To have someone acknowledge that as having a positive effect was quite rewarding.”
Scouting forms the family
Scouting plays a major role in the Lees’ lives.
Bob Sr. was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout. His mom was his den leader, and his dad served on both Bob’s pack and troop committees.
As Scoutmaster of St. Louis Troop 256, Bob has:
In addition, the longtime Scouter has also volunteered in the Cub Scouting and Venturing programs and is an Order of the Arrow Brotherhood member.
“Scouting has had a very positive impact on our family life,” said Bob. “We’ve run our house like a Scout troop. The structure and the things you learn in Scouting—the values, morals, and ethics that your family needs to develop—Scouting has all of these things.”
Joan is equally committed to Scouting. She has:
Presently a committee member
of Pack 256 and Troop 256, Joan
has also served in many other
A ‘gateway to success’
Joan notes she has reared
two and a half Eagle
Scouts: Paul and Bobby
have earned their Eagle
Paul’s Scouting accomplishments include:
Middle son Bobby appreciates how Scouting has prepared him for the future.
“Scouting—becoming an Eagle Scout—has been a gateway to success,” he said.
“It has trained me to stay focused, never give up, and do my best. It has taught me the rules of life, how to communicate with people, and how to be respectful. I have, through Scouting, started my trail to a successful life.”
Skating ‘The Bob’
And what about skating? Does the family plan to keep rolling ’round the rink?
“I don’t think we could leave roller skating behind,” said Bobby. “It’s left such an impact on our family.
“My parents go every other day. And if John or I miss any skate session on the weekend, or if we’re late, we get pretty upset.”
And then there’s “The Bob,” a signature syncopated move originated by who else? Bob Sr. It is best described as skating to music “on the beat, and not on the beat.”
Last year Bob performed “The Bob” during a national Skills on Wheels skating show in St. Louis. More than a thousand people attended the event. At the time, Bob was a relatively new skater, and Joan was impressed because her husband stood out among the others. She was proud because Bob gave it all he had.
“If it’s out there to do, Bob will do it,” Joan said, “and he will adapt it to make it his own. As a leader of our family, he has instilled that drive in the children and made sure that we keep that goal as a family.
“Bob and I don’t know any other way to be successful parents. We do it the way we know best, and that’s by keeping our family together.
Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting magazine.