This weekend before we hiked out of camp, our chaplains aid delivered a real nice Scouts Own service. His message to the Troop was to develop good habits. He challenged the Troop to stay away from bad habits, especially when camping. Our chaplains aid really nailed it and in not so many words called out some of the guys for the habits they were forming.
His message got me to thinking about habits and how they are formed in our Scouts.. what it boiled down to for me in the context of camping, citizenship, fitness, and service… was being prepared.
But the onus is not all on the Scout. What about the teacher.. the Scout leader.
This got me to thinking about the habits we are forming (teaching) in our Scouts and how we as Scout leaders bare a big part of the burden when it comes to the success of our Scouts.
Friday night we stayed at the Boy Scout winter lodge. It is a great time, the Scouts have their own private tubbing hill that is lit at night, a neat common area, and a bunk house. The lodge holds 6 Troops comfortably, but smaller Troops often double up with troops that have bunk space.
Our troop uses the lodge as a jumping off point. We take advantage of the great facilities, allow the Scouts to have a good time inner-tubbing, then they can dry their clothing in the dryers and get ready to camp the rest of the weekend out in the snow in a near by wilderness area.
During our recent stay, a Troop that is chartered by a certain church group shared space with us. They were a small unit and we had enough spare bunks to share.
Now it is no secret to those of you that follow this blog that my Troop is a backpacking troop, we are pretty well self sufficient and do not require a whole lot of space, gear, trailers, and the like. So when it comes to staying in the lodge, our plans change very little, the patrols still cook in 2 or three Scout teams, they use their backpacking stoves, bring their own food and ways to collect and carry water, and can clean up after themselves.
The other Scoutmaster introduced himself and we chatted about sharing the Troop bay. I informed him that we would not be needing the refrigerator, the stove and oven, and that we would be leaving in the morning. He thanked me as his Assistant Scoutmaster rolled in a very large cooler and bags of groceries.
Throughout that evening, Scouts from this other Troop kept coming to me and other adult leaders of my Troop for “things”.. “Hey Mister, where are the forks?… Hey Mister, where are the pans,? My Scoutmaster needs them to cook dinner for us.”
As we sat around the table, the leaders of the other Troop joined in our conversation about some high adventure opportunities. They asked why would be taking these “boys” out into the snow to camp? I listed many reasons, the least of which was that we are a Boy Scout Troop and we are always looking for new and exciting adventures. He mentioned that his boys could never do such a thing.. they just are not ready for it. I asked him, “well, what are you doing to prepare them?” ”It’s just out of the question” he replied, they don’t need that kind of thing.”
Well, that pretty much summed up his philosophy on Scouting. ”They don’t need that kind of thing”?
That’s like saying they don’t need the Scout Oath and Law, they don’t need an outdoor program, they don’t need uniforms, they don’t need advancement.
Now I am not saying that every Troop need be a backpacking Troop, but what are we teaching our young men when we don’t even give them a shot.
When we cook and clean for them, when we adults run their PLC and stifle the planning process. When we take away the boy led elements of Scouting and finally when we take away “BE PREPARED”.
Prepared for what you may be asking. Well like BP said, “FOR ANYTHING”.
Scouting prepares these young men for life.
Last night, my Troop conducted their after camp out review or “Start, Stop, and Continue”. After they went through this at the Patrol level, I spoke to them about some of the things that I saw over the weekend. Let me first say that I am proud of each and every one of the Scouts in the Troop, they did a great job this weekend and all of them came out of the weekend learning something.
The one thing that I did challenge them all to do was to push themselves more. They all have the abilities and know how, but sometimes they are afraid of stepping out of their comfort zones and accept new challenges or adventures. How does this help in “Being Prepared”? Well, I think that causes them to become critical thinkers. When you step out of that which is comfortable, you need to be ready for what is on the other side. Becoming a critical thinker and really looking at what you are about to do prepares them for the adventure which starts to translate in their everyday life.
Now what has this have to do with the Troop that shared space with us?
It seems to me that they are taking away opportunities for the boys in the Troop.. and that rubs me a little.
Being Prepared is not just words, it becomes a habit, it becomes part of the routines of our Scouts, it translates into their lives and that prepares them to be good men.
Have a Great Scouting Day!