The Sliding Scale of Perfection

Just take a look at any Norman Rockwell painting, Scout leaders with Square jaws sitting by a perfect fire, scouts praying under the dining fly and a Scoutmaster standing vigil over sleeping Scouts on a perfect star lit night.  Takes our breath away when we imagine what that time in Scouting was like.  But sit and chat awhile with one of our honored Scouting Alumni and he tells the story of a Scouting experience much like ours.
We all have an idea of what a perfect Scout or Scout unit should look like and as I grow more experienced in this game with a purpose what I have learned is that there is a sliding scale of perfection.
On that rare occasion when all of the stars are lined up as I stand over the dyeing embers of a fire that was once full of cheer and look around, giggles permeate the air from tents in the distance, I think that this is what Rockwell saw.  And then I am awakened by the sounds of Scouts burning their breakfast.  A Patrol leader struggles to get his patrol packed up and on the trail.  And new Scouts that are having trouble getting their sleeping bag back into that little bag it came in… where did Rockwell go?
You see there is a sliding scale of perfection and just like the saying that says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.. so is perfection.  Perfection in Scouting is all about learning and improving from that which you learned.  It’s ok for a Scout to go home hungry because he burned his breakfast, he won’t starve, but he will learn.  It is ok for a Scout to get wet when it rains at night, he won’t shrivel and fade away.. but he will stake his tent out better next time and store his gear like he was taught.
Patrol leaders will become less frustrated when they learn to use the EDGE method and work as a team. They will develop leadership when they come to the understanding that they are not the boss.. but the leader.  The SPL will get better and better as soon as he realizes that he only has to worry about Patrol leaders and not do everything himself.
Perfection will come, it won’t look like Norman Rockwell painted it.. but on the sliding scale.. as long as they keep learning.. that’s perfect.

Have a Great Scouting Day!


painting “Growth of a Leader” by Norman Rockwell

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One thought on “The Sliding Scale of Perfection

  1. Norman Rockwell sometimes painted where we are going, not where we are. That inspiration.I think that he understood very well that all is not perfection. There are two paintings that I especially like. One shows the kid with his pants down bent over to receive his shot. The other one show the troop headed down the street and a scout is upstairs, in the window, sick. Yearning to be with his friends.The inspirational paintings (that look like perfection) are there to inspire us. To encourage us to hold our chins up. To look forward with a clear eye. To wear our uniform properly. Our neckerchiefs are not always so straight. Our countenance is not always uplifted and eager. Yet the picture can inspire as much, or more, than words. To do better. To be more than we thought we could be.

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