Here is a little update. I thought I owed it to you to hear it from me about the progress of my Blog ticket which in turn has led to me seeing that I am falling short on my goals.
It is good to review once in awhile as I now know that I need to regain some focus and get back on track delivering the promise thought the blog (and Youtube channel).
Pardon all the “um’s”..
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Author Archives: Jerry Schleining Jr.
Here is a little update. I thought I owed it to you to hear it from me about the progress of my Blog ticket which in turn has led to me seeing that I am falling short on my goals.
Scouts that join our units begin their walk on the Eagle Trail through our program forest. This forest of Scouting has much to offer the passer-by. When you enter the forest the trail is clearly marked and a guide is provided. This guide keeps the new Scout on the right trail while he learns about the forest and the skills that he will need to navigate the trail through to his destination. The trail is long and provides many opportunities for the Scout. There is a fork in the trail called First Class. Once the Scout reaches this point in the forest, the trial gets a little less clear. There are still markers along the way, but the Scout is challenged to seek the path and maybe do some bushwhacking.
The trail through the forest at times will seem to be very narrow and at times the forest opens up into meadows and the trail needs to be tried and new routes found. A Scout needs to remember that the forest is full of trees. Those trees represent the opportunities of Scouting. Every four years a Scout will find a huge tree called Jamboree. He can choose to visit that tree and learn about its opportunity. He will also chance upon trees called NOAC (National Order of the Arrow Conference), he will have the opportunity to visit four trees called the National High Adventure Bases. A trip to the Philmont, the Summit, Sea Base or Northern Tier tree will prove to be a high light of his Scouting walk through the forest. There are merit badge trees and places along the trail to practice leadership and service. The trails always need maintenance. There are trees along the trail that the Scout will find other Scouts that need help finding the way. He will make the choice to lead them until they can do the same for other Scouts they meet.
There is a big lodge near the edge of the forest. This is where the Eagle Scouts hang out. They are still close to the forest so they can hear the call of Scouting and spend time back on the trail.
The forest of Scouting is full of great opportunity, fun, and adventure. But the opportunity, fun and adventure only comes to those Scouts that see the forest instead of the trees. The trees are the things that we bump into as we travel through the forest, but they are not the reason we go through Scouting. Finding the trees in the forest are the things that we do as we move forward in Scouting seeking the opportunities and fun that come with the program. The name of the trail is called Scout Oath trail. Along that trail we learn our laws and rules. We develop a habit of service, and we become a person that has Character. The trail is hard at times and forces us to stay physically and mentally strong. The trail is long and full of adventure, but we need to keep the forest the most important thing and let the trees appear. The Forest is the Scouting Aims and along the way you will bump into those trees that keep you moving in the right direction.
Loosing focus on the Forest and jumping right to the trees will eventually cause the Scout to turn around and leave the forest. He will hit all the trees that he wants but will miss the whole trail through the forest. The trees that are deeper into the forest are bigger and better, but the Scout that enters the trees and not the forest will miss out on them.
I have seen Scouts that have walked into the forest only to find a small stand of trees. They provided lots of merit badges and rank, but never any of the exciting opportunities that lay ahead on the trail. I also have seen Scouts that have immersed themselves into the whole trail. They have seen the big trees, participated in the great adventures and when he reached Eagle Lodge looked back at a great time in Scouting.
As you mentor young men in Scouting and as you introduce young men as they join your troop, show them the trail head into the forest and remind them to see forest rather than the trees. The trees will appear as you follow the trail.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night I had the pleasure as I do every Monday night of having some interesting conversations with the young men of my Troop. Much to their surprise or dismay, it ends up on the blog now and then. Last nights conversation got me to thinking about these young men and the men that they become.
Over the past few weeks we have had the honor or conducting two Eagle Scout ceremonies or Courts of Honor. Our Troop has made it a tradition not to present the Eagle Award during regular Troop Courts of Honor but rather give that young man his own day to be recognized for the work he has done.
During these ceremonies I typically share a thought or two about the young man and the progress he has made, usually share some outstanding quality of the Scout or a unique aspect of his growth in Scouting. We never “Roast” them or make them look like goof balls. The Eagle ceremony is special, so we try to keep it classy.
Last night, one of our younger Scouts came to me and shared his thought that I always seem to have something great to say about these guys that have made it to the rank of Eagle Scout. I told him that over this many years with the guys that have made it to Eagle, we have had many shared experiences. These Eagle Scouts have been in the Troop for a long time and every one of them remained super active. So the active guys have more stories to share and more experience to look back on, all of which I have been there to see and do with them.
Trips to Jamboree, Philmont, and all of our monthly outings add up to a lot of time spent together, so yes, in all of that I can find something great to say about a young man who worked hard and earned his Eagle Award.
The young Scout looked up and me and asked… so I wonder what you will say at my Eagle ceremony?
That really got me thinking last night. This group of young Scouts, what will that experience be? What will that story sound like? What will I share about them if and when they make it to Eagle Scout.
I looked back down at this young Scout and told him “That will be up to you.”
Stick with Scouting, be active, stay with the program and get the very most out of it and you will have a great story at the end and I will be there to share it.
He smiled and joined his friends.
That is something to think about Scout leaders. They care enough to wonder what we will say about them. Delivering the Promise of Scouting should be the most important part of your Scouting experience. It will be the best part of their Eagle ceremony and a story for them to share the rest of their lives.
Think about the impact you have. Believe it or not, they watch everything, hear everything, and want everything from you.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It’s August, 8 months into the year 2014, 8 months into “The POLICY” Change that sent Scouters into a tail spin running for the hills and screaming that our values suddenly changed. 8 months since the “End of Scouting” as we know it. Really? Where are you? What has changed?
I have yet to see an openly gay Scout. I have yet to have to deal with sleeping arrangements and one boy hitting on another one. Just has not happened and I hate to be that guy.. but I told you so.
I lost a good Assistant Scoutmaster over this non issue. And 8 months later nothing has changed except for ink on a policy letter.
So where are you? Where are all these gay boys that were screaming to get into Scouting? Where?
Ok… drama aside…
Last night at our District committee meeting we were discussing the real issues, in particular membership and saving Cub Scout Packs. The idea that people have turned away from Scouting because of this policy change came up. The fact of the matter is that nothing changed, EXCEPT… now we are open to serve ALL young men.
So, this should open doors to new membership, right? Wrong. Boys that are attracted to Scouting will join Scouting. So what do we need to do to attract them? That is what we need to do to get them in our great organization.
Ideas floated around and you know it all comes down to what Scouting is. A great values based outdoor organization that promises adventure and fun. It appeals to parents and boys and always has. The biggest issue is that we do a terrible job of selling that. We get to wrapped up on political correctness and worrying what the public perception is. If we just stick to the basics of what Scouting is.. they will come. But we need to tell that story.
National is not spending the dollars during prime time to tell our story. Local Councils do not have the budget to do it either, so it’s up to us to get out there and tell the story of Scouting.
Start by know what Scouting is. Tell the story as often as you can. Don’t be afraid of what people think, change their minds by what they see.
A policy to allow ALL young men the opportunity to join Scouting should not have sent anyone into a tail spin, it should have opened the door to talk about what Scouting offers in the year 2014 and beyond. Instead an over reaction and a terrible lack of action on the part of Scouters to get out in front and say.. NO.. We invite everyone, but the need to follow our rules.. it’s that simple.
8 months into this year of change and where are they. Those that value Scouting and Scouting’s values are here, the rest left or have not joined.
So now what. We have a crisis in membership at the Cub Scout level. WE NEED TO GET MORE CUB SCOUTS!
Is this policy an issue? NO. So lets move on and sell Scouting.
Tell our story.
From the Boy Scouts of America website; The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.
Is there something there that people have a problem with? If so, move on and tell the story to someone else.
A Scout is Friendly, Courteous and Kind.
Get out there and tell our story!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This summer our Troop went on a great adventure. We backpacked in the Olympic National Park. We.. the whole Troop. We broke up the Troop into three crews, that way we could maintain Wilderness area policies of no more than 12 heartbeats and good leave no trace principles. As we began the process of planning for the adventure we were met with resistance. The first was the issue of our new Scout Patrol. 11 year Scouts, what will they be doing? Backpacking was the answer. 11-year-old boys can not do a 50 mile backpack trip I was told. I believe that they can was my reply.
I searched the age appropriate guide lines, the guide to safe Scouting, and other BSA policies and could not find any thing that would suggest that a new Scout patrol could not complete a 50 mile backpack trip.
So we started training. Three backpacking trips that would increase in length prior to the big trip. We began tearing apart backpacks and looking at detailed packing lists. We looked at getting pack weights down to accommodate the little bodies. Menu planning and setting the course for a “doable” adventure that would accomplish the 50 mile goal and ensure success for every one in the troop.
The plan was to allow the three crews to determine their miles. The older Scouts wanted to move fast and far, the middle group wanted to stay around the 50 mile mark and the new Scout Patrol decided that 50 miles would be enough. I believe in them.
We decided on 7 days on the trail. This would allow us to spread the miles out over more days keeping our daily mileage around the 6 to 8 mile mark. That would put us in camp daily earlier allowing us to provide some program. The New Scout Patrol would focus on the trail to First Class while they were in camp, the middle group would focus their time on leadership development, and the older group was in it for adventure.
The plan was set, we used the Philmont meal plan, and got busy mapping our course. The three training outings went well and prepared us for some of the challenges we would find on the trail. Map reading, adapting to changing plans, and working as a crew.
As we prepared we made major changes to the way we would prepare meals and how we would rotate leadership within the crews. We also found which Scouts worked well together and based on their performance on the practice trips we set the crews. I believed that they could all do it.
Watching the Scouts do the practice trips gave me more and more confidence. I knew that they could all do it.
Fast forward now with me to the end of the trip. 7 days backpacking in the Olympic National Park. The First year Scouts did 51 miles and not one Scout failed to complete the adventure. On the 7th day the Troop met at a large camp ground to spend our last night in the Olympic together. There were nothing but smiles all around. I took time that night to talk with the new Scout patrol. They all shared the same attitude, “Lets do it again”! The middle crew ended the trip at 52.4 miles and saw some of the most beautiful country in the Northwest. It was an epic adventure. The older Scouts ended up backpacking 70 miles and found a great place to base camp where they dropped packs and went on a 20 mile day hike. They placed themselves close to the group site on the 6th day and got a jump early on day 7. They hiked so fast that they had time to jump in the cars and head into the nearest town and take showers. That last night we had an awesome campfire, singing songs and sharing stories of our adventures.
I knew we could do it.
Since we got back I have shared our story with some Scouters. They think that we stepped way out-of-bounds taking first year scouts on this adventure. I disagree.
Before the trip I called out those adults that seem to think that it was ok for us when we were kids to have adventures. Drink from hoses, stay out till the street lights came on etc. I still believe that the reason our kids today “can’t” do it is simply because we don’t let them. Well We let them and they proved me absolutely right! They can do it. More so though.. they WANT to do it. We need to believe in them.
For the past three weeks I have completed 9 Scoutmaster conferences, mostly with the new Scout patrol. They all remain excited about their accomplishment and can not wait for the opportunity to do it again.
I believe in them. It is that belief that allows me to let them seek and find adventure. It is that belief that gives our Patrol leaders council the ability to plan the next great adventure. It is a visible attitude that sets these young men apart. Sitting on their butt is not an option for them. They want to get out there and explore their world.
I read about troops sharing their summer camp score about this time each year. 20 Scouts, 99 merit badges etc.
Well, here is our Score for this year. 23 Scouts. 23 merit badges. 31 50 miler awards. An adventure that they will talk about for the rest of their lives.
I believe that we offered them this thing we call SCOUTING!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Note: I hiked with the middle group. These guys impressed me to no end. The leadership that they developed over the course of the trip was great. I believe that they will be outstanding leaders for the future of our troop.
When teaching leadership to both our youth and adults, we spend a fair amount of time discussing what it is that leaders do. Being a Teacher, Coach, Trainer, and Mentor is found within the job description of any leader. We find ourselves as leaders focusing on being a good teacher of skills, coaching as those skills are applied, and training our leaders to be effective. But what of being a mentor?
Not every leader is a mentor. We tend to throw that around a bit too much in Scouting. We have “Eagle Mentors” We have “Unit mentors”, we even consider “Troop Guides” in the context of Wood Badge as a mentor. But are they really mentors in the sense of having a lasting impact on the life of someone else.
Webster defines the word Mentor as; a trusted guide or counselor. Other words are Tutor or Coach.
I think that a lot of leaders consider themselves as mentors, but as I look back on those that I consider my mentors I can’t help but go back to the definition. Trusted guide. And again,I ask myself what impact if any did this person have on my life.
Looking back, I honestly consider only a few people as a mentor.
In my life I break it down to a few areas. Work, Spiritual life, Scouting, and becoming a man.
At UPS I do not consider any one person a mentor. The work environment tends not to value leadership, rather there is a need to manage everything at UPS as material. In the Army however, I have had a few mentors. Men that really made a big impact on my leadership style and ability to lead.
In the Army there is a program that places fellow soldiers, leaders, in a position to develop their subordinates. The Non Commissioned Officer Development Program (NCODP) is designed to make junior leaders better. I had a First Sergeant named Ted Godwin that showed me how to use the tool box of leadership to care for soldiers. He instilled in me the concept of Mission First, Men always. This may seem like a little thing, but at the end of the day, that is what makes for effective leaders. In the Army, with the division of leadership roles between the Officer Corps and the Non Commissioned Officer Corps it is the NCO that ensures the men are ready for the mission. If the men are not ready, there is little chance for the mission to be accomplished.
The basic understanding of being a caring leader, one that truly understands those that he leads became one of the hallmarks of my leadership and a lesson that I passed on to those that I lead when I was placed in a position to mentor younger soldiers.
It was his trusted leadership style that inspired me to be a leader. When he spoke, we listened. When he instructed, we learned.
Another mentor of mine in the Army was Command Sergeant Major Cliff Neil. He was a technical leader and understood why people act the way they do. He was not a tactical superstar, but when it came to behavior, he was provided hours of lessons on how to be an effective counselor and dig deeper into the reasons why a soldier acted the way he did. He showed me that everything is not always black or white… grey sneaks in to leadership and it is the effective leader that understands that will change behavior. Changing behavior is the goal of discipline in the sense of punishment. It is not a sign of weak leadership to know why. CSM Neil was tough, but fair and made me an outstanding First Sergeant. His impact on me was manifest when I became a Sergeant Major and was placed in a position to teaching my First Sergeants. I adopted the grey area when the First Sergeants saw only black and white. Typically we could change behavior without destroying a soldier’s career and livelihood.
Again, a leader that I trusted was leading me in the direction of becoming an effective leader.
In my Spiritual Life, I developed a friendship and allowed Fr. Rick Sarianni to be a trusted adviser. I valued our talks and his understanding of me and my walk in faith. I have known many Pastors, but Fr. Rick was a special friend that lead me to a clearer understanding of just what I believe and why I believe it.
In Scouting I have many friends that have helped me along the way and some that really made an impact on the Scoutmaster that I have become. I won’t go into the specifics as there are many, but it I feel it important that I name at least two of the men that have made a big impact on me as a Scouter. Tim Steenbergen gave me sage advise when I was a new Scoutmaster. Program, Program, Program was his mantra and I have taken that to the bank. John Caputo is the other. John is the ultimate Scouter. I had the absolute privilege to serve on his Wood Badge staff. I met John the first time as a learner at Wood Badge in 2005. He left an impression on me and we became friends. I always looked to him as a role model in Scouting. His wisdom and knowledge of the program and how to deliver the promise. Over the past 10 years, John has always been there with advise and instruction. Watching him as I have staffed on two Wood Badge Courses has been a pleasure and I have learned and taken many lessons from him along the way.
Again, two trusted counselors that left a large impact on me as a Scout leader. Along the way as a Wood badge staffer I have been blessed to learn from dedicated leaders and folks that have an equal love for Scouting.
Being a Man.
There are four people who made me the man who I am today. The first is my Dad. He showed me the value of family and how to treat people. I can go on and on about the lessons learned from him.
The other three are my two sons and my daughter. Little did they know, but they guided me to being the Dad and man that I am. They forced me to lead them and be consistent in how I raised them. Without their pushing my life could have been different. The obligation of being a Father was something that I could not take lightly. The proof is in the pudding as they say. I am a good man for them and they turned out to be fantastic young adults.
When a young man becomes an Eagle Scout we challenge him to prove that he earned it every day. My wife has done that for me daily as we challenge on another to be good parents and people who can show our kids the way to being good adults.
So being a mentor is not something that just comes with leadership, it is something that has to be taken on as an obligation with the understanding that you will be impacting the life of someone else. As I said, not all leaders are mentors. I can think of many leaders that have come and gone throughout my life that I will never consider a mentor. They were neither a trusted counselor nor would I consider them wise in the lessons learned. By definition these leaders just lead. In so far as their impact on me, I can not measure it.
Being a mentor is leaving your legacy. That in and of itself seems to be lofty, but in the end, it is what mentor-ship is all about. Passing on what I have to the next the generation. Giving the gift of knowledge, of life skills and lessons, of whatever wisdom I have acquired to the next generation.
The other night after our latest Eagle Court of Honor I removed the Mentor Pin from my shirt that had just been placed there by our newest Eagle Scout. This pin means the world to me, as do the other mentor pins I have received over the years. I took a mental inventory of those pins and the Scouts that felt as though I had made an impact on their lives. A pin from one of the Scouts of my Jamboree Troop back in 2010. He gave me the pin stating that had it not been for me being his Scoutmaster at Jamboree he would have quit Scouting all together and would have never finished his Eagle Award. Another Scout from my Troop presented me a mentor pin along with a picture of the two of us on a camp out. He shared that the life lessons he learned from me are shaping him into the man who he wants to be. Yet another pin reminded me of the young man that I have known all of his Scouting life. He had always been a work in progress, but in the end blossomed into a fine young man. He credited my straight talk and insistence on taking care of the little things to insure success. He is well on his way to being a good man and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow.
It is that obligation to making an impact that I take serious. Not every Scout, or person for that matter seeks guidance. Sometimes it comes without a plea, it is a young man who hovers in the background taking it all in, that one day shakes your hand and thanks you for what you have done.
Understand this, Your actions, Your wisdom, Your behavior, and Your willingness to make a real difference in the life of someone else is what matters when in comes to being a mentor.
Trust, Competence, Being a Friend, these are qualities of being a mentor. It is not the patch that you wear or the position that you hold. It is your willingness to serve.
Leaving your legacy must be important to you, not for ego or pride, but for the future of those you mentor.
What is your impact, what is your legacy? Are you a mentor?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
On the eve of my youngest son departing for college it is once again a time to think back on the past 18 years watching him grow into this great young man. I can’t help but think about getting the most out of life when I think about Josh’s childhood and so it reminds me of the life lessons I have shared with him and lessons that I have shared with our Scouts.
I have always said that you get out of something what you put into it. You get out of Scouts what you put into it, you get out of life what you put into it.
Josh is heading to college not just to get an education, but to live a dream. Ever since he was old enough to hold a Football he has held on to the dream of playing at the next level. Which ever level that is. When he was in youth league it was Middle School Football. Then it was High School Football and making the Varsity team. Then it was College.
He has put in more effort to reach his goals than most teenagers put effort into anything in their lives. And what he will get out of it will be living his dream.
The other day we had a discussion about the 4% of the Scouts that join Scouting that earn the Eagle Award. The effort that they put into Scouting ultimately pays off in the award. A lack of effort or desire will produce just that. Some will fall short of the Eagle award, not due to lack of effort but drive or motivation. They have a great experience, but fail to make it to their goal, unless the experience is the goal.
But we know for sure that you get out of life what you put into it. Life is not unfair, it simply rewards people who make a choice to do more. A lack of effort in life will result in not being a success. Put more effort in, get more out.
One thing that I love about Josh’s story is that it reinforces the idea of “No excuses”. I have watched as coaches over the years have asked the players what they want. Results or excuses? You can’t have both. Put more effort into results and you will find success. Put more effort into excuses and you get nothing. Josh has embraced that attitude when it comes to everything in his life.
The couple of months before his 18th Birthday it was clear he would not be earning his Eagle award. We talked and he asked if I was disappointed in him. No I told him. He had to make a choice and he decided on Football. This was after a great summer of college visits, college recruiting trips, letters from schools, and the single best season of his life. Not to mention the leadership he was showing in his Senior class, good grades, and enjoying every moment of his last year in High School. He had put in the effort and was seeing the rewards ahead. It is a Father’s job to help his kids dreams come true and Josh is seeing it all become real.
This weekend I spent a little time working on wrapping up summer camp, our big backpack trek, planning. I looked at the list of Scouts attending versus the list of Scouts not going. It reinforced the idea of what do our Scouts get out of Scouting. If they are here to get a lot of merit badges and rank, that’s what they will get. Anyone can earn merit badges. The experiences, the mountain top shared experiences that can only be found seeking new adventures, the life lessons and skills, those can’t be found in the merit badge program. They don’t require the effort, they don’t require the skills and shared trial that comes with living within the Patrol, Crew or Team. They are what they are, but at the end of the day, they are not going to get you what you really want out of Scouting or life. They are not what you will look back on and remember as the thing that kept you moving toward your goal. They are not what you will see as real effort that led to reward.
So tonight we load up the truck and get ready to head South to move Josh into the next level, the next chapter of his life. As he looks back on the last four years, it was not the games lost or won, it is not the merit badges or rank he earned in Scouts. It is the experiences. The friends, team mates, patrol members. It is great seasons on the grid iron. It is a trip to the National Jamboree. It is the leadership he showed and experiences he shared. It is the dream he is chasing and the reality of it coming true.
I am Proud of him. Not just because he is my son, but because he is a good man of character. He works hard, plays hard, and is full of life.
Ask yourself, what are you getting out of life? If it’s not a lot… you are not trying hard enough.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Today is Independence Day.
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging since about mid month in June. For reasons that I think, looking back are real silly. I found myself in a bad place when it came to my internet presence. Lately I have been really upset with the way my Country is going. The issues to many to note, and I really would rather move on, but needless to say it has put in my in a dark place as far as blogging goes. I did not want to spread that “negative” vibe here on the blog. I was even commented to on Facebook from a follower of the blog that he would rather read the blog and it’s “wisdom” than the stuff I have been sharing on Facebook. And Larry, I concur. And so it is Independence Day. A day that we celebrate the Birth of a Nation.. our Country. The day that brave men stood up and pledged their Sacred Honor to remain Free.
Today, I am getting back in the saddle and being Independent. Free. I am making the choice not to allow politics to derail this great blog that I love so much.
I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with you. I took a look back though at the month of June. I could see the posts that really showed the trend of me heading into the political rabbit hole.
I am a conservative. I love Liberty and Freedom and have and will stand up to defend it. But this blog is about Scouting, Adventure, Leadership, and fun. There is no room for politics here.
Not politics… Independence and celebration of America! I love this Country!
Today, as they have done for years, the Congress of the United States will read aloud the document that created our Independence. the Declaration of Independence. I think it is important to remember the pins and needles that those men must have been sitting on when they signed their names to a paper that at the time meant treason. Their lives and fortunes lay in the balance.
I am proud of that American spirit and willingness to stand up for something that we believe in.
That spirit continues today in the heart of America. We may disagree, but that is our right and the right of free men to express their thoughts, their desires, and safeguard their home.
Happy Birthday America!
God Bless you.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” -from the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. July 4th, 1776
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I suppose this year has just been one of those times of reflection. With our youngest son graduating from high school and getting ready to move away to college, our oldest son across the country in the Army and our daughter hitting the books in college, this year has really provided opportunities to reflect.
A look back at the last 20 years of fatherhood, 22 years of marriage, the ending of an Army career and getting closer to my 50th birthday has been wonderful, scary, and eye-opening.
I think that as I grow older and maybe a little wiser I tend to look at things a bit different and find myself looking for answers or solutions to some of the problems I see around me. I have no hope for our political issues and see no fix in the near future and so I am focusing my energy on that which I can have an impact on. The things, people, and places that I can touch and make a difference at and to.
One of the biggest problems that has been weighing on my mind lately is our young men. Not my sons, but a collective of our young men that we are in contact with. I try to understand them and learn as to what makes them tick. What motivates them? What gets them out of bed in the morning? What is it that they will contribute to our community?
In looking at them it dawned on me that we have some serious issues with them just becoming men.
We as a nation are not letting them grow up to be men. In Scouting we constantly talk about Character, but what about manliness? What makes them men?
In thinking on this I am trying to define what that means or looks like.
Rugged? Well, it does not have to mean that. Self reliant? That is a big issue. Courteous and Kind. Hard working. Providers, hunter gatherers.
My Dad showed me what it is to be a man. He showed me how to love his family, protect them and care for them. He taught me to be a provider and never to let them down. He showed me the value of working hard and being rewarded for hard work. He demonstrated to me determination and applying yourself to get what you want. He taught me how to compete and be a good sport. He showed me how to be a faithful husband and loving dad.
There are many traits of being a man who I think get lost when a young man does not have that man to show them. And then it was clear. We are missing men… Dad’s.
I grew up in a generation that won’t be labeled great or unique. My generation learned from parents that by and large stayed together. The guys I grew up with were pretty much the same. I grew up an Army Brat. Moved every three years and learned to make new friends annually. The guys I grew up with had Dad’s that went away to Vietnam. We were all about 1-year-old when our Dad’s went away and left us with Mom. Mom was still there when Dad got back. We were Army families. Everyone I knew had a Mom and a Dad. I did not know divorced people. It was not till I became a Cubmaster that I was introduced to my first single parent. That was 15 years ago. This revelation was mind numbing for me. It was something that I did not understand. Parents are just supposed to stay together. My parents are still together after 48 years, why can’t other people make that kind of commitment?
Marriage is disposable these days and it is criminal to me. I do not believe in “irreconcilable differences”. If you have problems, work them out. “For better or for worse” that was the promise I made 22 years ago and I intend to keep it. Our marriage has not been all peaches and cream, but neither is life. It takes work to make it work. It takes an altering of thinking to change the result. Our society needs to alter its thinking on the casual nature of marriage.
Being husband and wife is not a flavor of the month and when you introduce children to the equation it ramps the intensity of the commitment to another level.
This attitude of disposable relationships I feel is the single biggest issue in boys not becoming good men. As much as I value Mom’s, they can not be Dad’s.
Dad’s make men when they are engaged in their lives and serve their son’s as a teacher and mentor. Not a buddy, but a parent that teaches manliness.
A Dad that teaches his son to respect women. Teaches the value of family and the importance of keeping the family together. Passing on tradition and culture. Teaching that values drive Character and that you do what you value.
This is manliness and it is being missed on a generation that is growing up in a world that does not value hard work and reward. Where mediocre is ok and that government is more important than family. That there is always a safety net and that skills and education are not as important as learning systems. A world that punishes risk taking and praises just going along. A world that rewards the individual as long as everyone else is rewarded to.
We need to alter that thinking.
We need to reward achievement and hard work. We need to praise Dad’s that stick it out and raise good young men. We need to frown on the disintegration of marriage and the promises that come with committing oneself to another. We need to alter our thinking from an attitude of what’s in it for me to what is in it for us. We need to stop being selfish and think about someone else for a change. Think about those young men that will be rudderless men in the very near future if we do not alter our thinking.
In talking with my 20 year son on Sunday over the phone I could not help but listen to him as we talked about his life in the Army. The lessons he learned at home that are making him a success in life now.
Then sitting on the bed with my youngest son making plans to pack up his stuff to get ready to move to college. The knowledge that he will do well because of the solid foundation of values and skills he has to go and be a man.
Looking back over this last couple months taking a deep look at the past and then a glance to the future I am left with the satisfaction that my wife and I have done well. At the same time I fear for the future of the young men of our community and beyond. Unless we alter our thinking, we will set them up to fail.
We need to make them men.
What are you doing to make a difference?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It started like most weeks, a Troop meeting on Monday night then the rest of the week was all about my youngest son’s High School Graduation from Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon. You may have heard about our little town.
Troutdale sits at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers. The town was founded back in 1792 by Lt. Broughton and his men. There is a bluff named after him that over looks the town. The City of Troutdale was not incorporated till 1907 though and was a stop on the way to Portland along the rail that made its way through the famous Columbia River Gorge.
We have two Elementary Schools, one Middle School, and one High School in the City of Troutdale. The High School serves a big chunk of East Multnomah County (all the way into Portland) and is the second largest High School in the State of Oregon.
You may have heard of the High Schools fantastic Music program, vocational education, and center for advanced learning. Or maybe you know of Reynolds High School because of its great Arts and Communication Center. It is a state of the art complex. It may be the outstanding athletics of Reynolds High. If you are a part of our community you would know of lots of great things that happen at our High School. Instead you know of a shooting. 5 rounds fired, two students dead, one was the student that did the shooting, one teacher grazed, an entire community in shock.
That’s what you know about our High School.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday, hair cuts and party preparations for Josh’s graduation.
Thursday, Lunch with the family at a nice Italian place in downtown Troutdale then off to graduation. Very great to watch these young men and women cross over into adulthood with their High School diplomas. I have known so many of these kids since they were toddlers. It is great to see how grown up they are.
Speeches about adversity and learning from life’s hardships, your standard commencement speeches and then off to chaperon the Senior All night Party. A super fun night playing games out at Bull Winkles Fun Center. Had a Ball.
Friday was all about preparations for the big party Saturday. Friday we had a birthday party for my niece.
Saturday the big party. Cooked 85 servings of chicken, all prepared in the dutch ovens and all of the fixings. Great turn out and a fun party.
Sunday (the day of rest) I was awakened by a phone call from my son serving in the Army. Just a father’s day greeting and we talked for an hour. Next hour on the phone with my dad, then off to clean up the last stuff from the party.
A great Fathers day dessert with Dad and family and now time to relax.
Sorry if I didn’t blog this week… You can see why.
What I know for sure.
The media will turn corn flakes into a circus. I will not take anything away from the tragic loss of the families involved in the shooting in school gym. I pray for them and recognize their pain. But enough already with the media looking for a story that is not there. They made the graduation a complete circus and it made a lot of the families there that wanted to celebrate their son or daughters achievement second to an event that no one can do anything about now a circus and they were not pleased. It’s done, over, and hopefully will not happen again.
I will not debate any of the issues that hover around this. I have my opinions and will not turn my blog into that circus.
Thursday was my sons day. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and the results of four great years and a positive High School experience. One shooting will not ruin that for him. Again, not to take anything away from the families, but someone is shot in Portland every day.. never makes the news.
It made out week, a week that was all about the Seniors an emotional roller coaster, but in the end, the Seniors showed that this would not define their high school story. They partied and had an awesome celebration of their lives and their futures. I applaud them for that.
Here was else I know for sure.
Life is short. Hug you kids every day and then hug them some more. Love them and teach them to love. Be an example of Character to your kids. Know who your kids are and share in their lives. You need not be their buddy, you need to be their parent.
Volunteer at the School. Know the School and what your kids do there. Be apart of their education. Teachers can not do it alone.
Help your kids be successful. Know that when they fail they need a hand to get back up.
Have dinner together, even if it’s not at the table.
Talk to your kids, know them, and love them.
What a hell of a week. Glad tomorrow is Monday and we can do it all over again.
Have a Great Scouting Day!