During Scoutmaster conferences I often ask the Scout what the Scout Oath and Law mean to them. In their own words what do the values and the promises found in the Oath and Law mean.
It seems that, by and large, there is a lack of knowledge in so far as defining what “Duty” means with our younger Scouts. With our older Scouts too for that matter.
When I was a young Scout, right after we walked up hill both ways in the snow, it seems to me that we were taught in School, home, and Church what Duty meant and what our role was in keeping our promises and understanding what our duty was when it comes to our daily lives. In Scouts we knew what our duty was when it came to being Reverent and Helpful. We had an understanding about our Duty to our Country.
The other night I took the opportunity while talking with a young man during a Scoutmaster Conference to discuss what duty meant and what he needed to know about it. The discussion started because the Scout didn’t understand why he said those words when he recited the Scout Oath.
I started with a basic definition so he could get at least an understanding of duty. I first asked if he felt like he had a responsibility to be helpful. He said yes. I asked if he felt an obligation to be a good citizen. He said yes, but really didn’t know what that really meant at his age. I then asked him if he felt that he should be committed to doing his best, staying healthy, and doing well in school so he could have a better life. All of those he felt that he was committed to.
I told him that duty is just that, a responsibility, a commitment, and an obligation to something. In our case as Scouts those are found in our Scout Oath to God and our Country, to other people, and to ourselves.
Duty to me has always been a solid concept of how we live our lives. As a soldier, I was bound to serving our Country and as a leader my duty was to the soldiers I led.
As a Father, my responsibility has always been to making me children good people. I was told once that it is not my job as a Dad to raise good children, rather it was my duty to raise good adults.
As a Husband my obligation is to my wife. To be her partner through thick and thin and to show her unconditional love.
As a Scout leader I am committed to men of Character. Making Eagle Scouts is not my priority, teaching young men to grow up and be men that have Character, are good citizens, and have an understanding and habit of being fit. That is what is important to me. Why? Because it is my Duty.
I shared these things to my young Scout. It helped him gain a better understanding of why, in the Scout Oath, we use the term “Duty”.
Knowing that it make the Scout Law more important, it focuses the Scouts outlook toward God and Country and helping others. It creates a want to be his best and take care of himself and those around him.
Some may say that I am reading into this, I say no… I am teaching it for what it is. A promise.
If we don’t keep our promises we compromise our character, when we do that, we have nothing. We need to understand that we have a Duty to be good Scouts, Scouts that live the Oath and Law in our daily lives.
It is the foundation of Scouting. Baden Powell understood that when he started this. These concepts have been passed from generation to generation. William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt understood this and made it the hallmark of his writings on Scouting. Scoutmasters for years have held true to these concepts in the teaching their Scouts and for whatever reason there has been a disconnect in our young men today. It is my duty to change that. I will do that one Scout at a time.
Do you feel that same obligation?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Good Turn Daily
During Scoutmaster conferences I often ask the Scout what the Scout Oath and Law mean to them. In their own words what do the values and the promises found in the Oath and Law mean.
The other night I had the pleasure of sitting in as an advocate for a Scout in my Troop at his Eagle Board of Review.
I enjoy the position that the Scoutmaster is placed in as the advocate, physically the Scoutmaster sits behind and out of the view of the Scout and mentally, it is a great place to learn from the Scout to know that you are truly delivering the promise of Scouting.
The first question the board asked this young man was if he had ever looked at the back of his Scout Handbook. On the back cover are the Aims of Scouting. The Scout replied that he had not looked at the back. The board asked him to pick up his book and read it. Then asked if he was aware that these were the aims or goals of Scouting. He said that he did know that. How did you know that they wanted to know. My Scoutmaster does not stop talking about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness the Scout said in a matter of fact. They chuckled a bit and then asked what he thought about those three words and how much they meant to Scouting. His answer knocked me out of my chair. He looked at the board and said “Those three words mean more to me than this award. They mean that I am a good man and that I will always be a good man.”
From that point on I knew that this board was going to be interesting. And it was. He had an opinion when they asked for one, he talked about the great times that he had in Scouting and he shared what he had learned about being a leader.
As I sat behind him I felt deep pride in this young man and listened as he confirmed that we really are providing a program that the boys get.
To close the board, they asked about the Scout Oath and Law. He shared his feelings, understanding, and practice of living the Oath and Law daily. Not without challenge and difficulty but the bottom line was that he is that person every day.
This got me to thinking about comments I have heard from Scouts and Scouts all over. It reminded me of an on going discussion that we have about being a Scout and living Scout like all of the time, the fact that we only have One Life.
We are what our Facebook Status says we are. We are what our Twitter account looks like. We are where we hang out and the people that we associate with. We are what we say and what we do. That defines our Character.
You are not just a Christian on Sunday, you not just a Scout on Monday nights, you are not just a Dad when the kids are around, you are not just a Scoutmaster when you wear the hat.
There is no separation. There can’t be, that goes against the principle of Character. Choose to accept that or not but your Character will be your guide and that is when you will have to face the reality of who and what you are.
I stress character all the time in our Troop, in fact I care more about character than anything else in Scouting. I don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle if he has not got the point about character, citizenship, and being mentally and physically fit. If he did not get it, he just got another patch and the award will be meaningless.
We hold the Eagle award up on that lofty space for that reason, we all do it. Every one respects and admire those that have earned this award and rightly so…if they got it. If they make that choice to have one life and that is the life of Character.
I was asked by a Scout why I will not friend him on Facebook. I make it a practice not to friend Scouts or any minor that is not family on Facebook. It is not because of what I might put on the internet… it’s that I don’t want to be placed in a position to know what they are putting on the internet. I would rather have them make good choices and discuss it during conferences. Facebook is not where I want to build my discussion bullets for the next time I see the Scout.
You have but one life. You do not get to split out your internet life and your real life. You have the ability to maintain good character. Once you decide to part ways with it, it can not come back. Once the bell is rung, you can not un-ring it.
Think before you act, pause before you hit enter, read before you press send. Character matters.
“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I posted my thoughts on training. I received some great feedback and feel that I need to address a couple of the comments, specifically a question that came up about the leaders themselves in the unit and how our attitude toward training is part of the reason we have great trained leaders.
Bob asked, “I’m curious as to whether you find that this “going the extra mile” is primarily something that a leader brings to the unit (nature), something that the unit brings to the leader (nurture), or some combination of the two. Or, to put the question another way, do you find that the adults that volunteer for leadership positions already have that “going the extra mile” mentality, or that the culture of the unit inspires a new (or existing) leader to go that extra mile?”
Thanks Bob the answers is simple. All of the above.
I believe that it is a bit of both Nature and Nurture. First, I think that our unit has built a culture of trained leaders and an expectation that leaders are trained. We ask a lot of our adult volunteers. It is the nature of the unit that we expect the adult to be willing to “go that extra mile”. Because it is a cultural thing or part of the nature of our unit, the volunteer knows what he or she is stepping in to. It is not a surprise when they ask that they will be given a list of training courses, materials, and expectations of what training in our unit looks like. If an adult leader expects to do the minimum, they are quickly encouraged to participate in some position other than that of a direct contact leader.
The culture of the unit dictates that in order to deliver the very best program to our youth, keeping them safe, and instructing them properly we need to do better than the training that is provided by the Boy Scouts of America.
We agree that the training provided by the BSA is designed for the common denominator and not adequate for high adventure, advanced leadership, and activities that take you more than an hour away from a car. This is all well and good, but in our opinion we need to do more. Maxing the minimum is not good enough.
We ask of the Scout to “Do his Best”… so should we.
We also Nurture our adult leaders to want to be “Over Trained”. Again, this is part of the culture of the unit. Firm expectations of the training that allows our unit to function at a higher level. When a parent asks to become a part of the adult leadership of the unit, the parent is invited to participate fully. But training comes first. Before an Assistant Scoutmaster for example can function as such, he must complete all of the BSA required training. He needs to seek advanced first aid training to include CPR/AED. We ask them to attend Wood Badge. We take the time to instruct them on being a mentor, teacher, and coach to our Scouts. We remind them that we do not lead, we assist. There are not patches in the Boy Scout program for adults that say the word “Leader”.
This nurturing and development of the new adult volunteer leads them toward advanced training.
What this does for the unit is simple. It opens doors. We need not rely on any outside instruction or guides for our activities. If we want to climb, we have certified climbing instructors to facilitate that activity. Water craft, backpacking, shooting, Orienteering, Pioneering, First Aid, and more are all on the table because of the adult cadre of volunteers that have become the culture of the unit. We also find that the adults stay active, even when the Scout has moved on. This level of commitment has kept our knowledge base growing and stable. The culture of the unit dictates that we do it all for the Scouts and we go the extra mile to make sure they have the very best Scouting experience.
So it is both Nature and Nurture. It is a culture that expects the adult to set the example by giving more. Being a model of the expected behavior of a servant leader. One that reinforces our 5 Leadership principles in the Troop.
Leading ourselves, Focusing on the small stuff, Being the model of expected behavior, Communicating effectively, and being a Servant Leader.
Once that culture is developed and has a strong by in, the unit will flourish with trained leaders.
Allan and Alex, I hope that answer addressed your questions also.
If you have more questions, comments of concerns, please feel free to drop me a note.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I got into a debate or more a less a discussion about Scouting and it’s Values with a co-worker of mine. He contended that Scouting was too conservative in its values and that is what makes it unappealing in the Portland area. He debated that conservative values don’t work well in America today as we are moving toward a Country that is more about the people. Now, I don’t know what the heck that means and I won’t go into the whole debate, but what it did cause me to do was argue the point of values to my co-worker. The basis of that argument was the difference between Conservative values and I suppose we would have to argue Liberal values as they would be the opposites of one another.
This is not a political discussion. We are only talking about values here, but since he brought up the word “Conservative” I had to have an opposing side to compare with.
To make the debate not one of emotion or politics, I stuck with the basics. Where do we get our values and what are our values in Scouting. How we apply our values is up to the individual, but it is fair to say that in an organization like the Boy Scouts of America, our shared values become a part of our lives and we should not separate the Scouting life from every day life.
Scouting gets it values from the Scout Oath and Law, the motto and Slogan, and Outdoor code.
Lets start with the Scout Oath. The Oath is the foundation promise of the organization. It is the jumping off point that the individual takes an oath to “On his honor” he will live the following values. He makes three promises in the Scout Oath. He makes a promise to do his Duty to his God and his Country. He makes a promise to help other people at all times. And he makes a promise to himself, to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. This promise lays the ground work for the way he is going to live his life. So lets see, those three promises are conservative? Then what do Liberals think and believe?
Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of our values, the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. 12 words that define how we should live our lives. Conservative? If so are liberals not trustworthy, loyal, helpful etc? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to grow up living those values, after all, does not all of those 12 values lead America to a better place? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to develop good habits of service to others and being courteous? Have you been to a mall in anywhere America lately. We need more Scouts is all I am saying. If rude, unkind, sad, and filth is this new America we are looking for then we are getting there quick.
What about thrifty? Don’t we want our Scouts to develop good habits when it comes to money and how they handle it. Don’t we want them to know that they have a responsibility to pay their own way and not be a drain on society. Now that I will concede is a conservative point of view. Scouts should never be looking for a hand out or to become a part of the welfare state. Scouts should work hard and provide for themselves and their families and should not settle for other people paying their way.
So the Scout Law is our shared values that lead us to being better people and better members of society.
And what about the Outdoor code. Those four requirements to be Clean in my outdoor manners, careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded. Yep, they hurt us as Americans. Those crazy conservative values that direct us to being better in when it comes to our time spent in outdoors and our stewardship to the land.
Now those of us that have been in and around Scouting long enough know that we derive our mission statement from our values and core beliefs.
To refresh our memories and to help my coworker see just how conservative our values are here is the mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Hmmm… moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes. What the heck are we thinking? That is way to conservative.
How about the Vision statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Every eligible youth to become a responsible citizen? That is just conservative crazy talk and can lead to no good. I think the part that scares the liberal-minded in the vision statement is the word LEADER.
So what is the point here?
This started as a debate about conservative values and the closer we look into them they are just good values. What scares me is this. If this is what we consider conservative, what the heck is the opposite? What are liberals thinking?
I would think these are American Values and we should want every American to live them.
As this debate got me thinking, I did a quick Google search and came on this. Thought it was worth your time to review. Values of Americans. Take a look at that and see that Scouting and it’s values do make a difference.
The point is simply this. It is not political unless you make it that way. If Scouting;s values are conservative than conservative is the right way to live. Until I see liberal values that match those strong values that make good citizens that can make good choices and hold themselves to a standard of service to others and self-determination. Being people who are not going to be a burden on society, rather people who are willing to work hard and make a contribution. In short… Men of Character.
Now I am not saying that folks on the left lack Character. What I am saying is that Character matters more when we look at the values of the Boy Scouts of America coupled with the mission and vision of the organization. What I am saying is that if any of those values are wrong then we have some serious problems and I have major problems with the opposite of Conservative.
It is an interesting debate and the further we get into it the deeper understanding of how people like my coworker think the more I realize that we need more Scouts and people who are Scout like in America.
And now you know one of the reasons that I end each post with…
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Today is Founders Day. A day in Scouting when we celebrate our Founder Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
This would be his 157th birthday. It is fitting that today was spent training Adult leaders this morning and celebrating a Cub Scout Packs Blue and Gold this evening, along with the crossing over of 6 Scouts into my Troop.
A day packed with Scouting, all in a positive way.
Baden-Powell was more than just the founder of Scouting, he was truly a visionary. Not in a mystical sense, but in the vision that he had for youth. He understood youth and knew the direction that they needed to go. Not the direction they may have wanted to go, but needed to go. I think of that often as a Scoutmaster. These young men come to us with expectations and we mentor them on a journey. Through guided discovery we take them on an adventure that leads them where we know they need to go disguised in a game that the youth are willing to play.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”
I think that when BP came back from the war, he had like most veterans a different appreciation for life and the direction that life should be taken. In reading his writings we know that Baden-Powell had seen and done enough in the service of England and dedicated himself thereafter to promoting peace and happiness. I have heard that being happy is a moral obligation as it affects those around you. Spreading happiness is certainly worth-while.
“The good turn will educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness.”
I talk a lot about service. Service to others is not just a Scout thing, but a human thing. When we wrap our hearts and arms around that, we become selfless servants.
Scouting started because of a man who felt the need to serve and to teach others to serve.
Today we honor that man. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
PS. Sorry there will be no Quick tip this week. The plate got way to full, I will resume the next week with the Saturday Quick tip.
I do not talk much about the Order of the Arrow on this blog, and maybe I should. I have not received a lot of requests for OA topics, but over the past few months I have been giving the Order of the Arrow a bit more thought.
As many of you know (that follow me on social media) I have been elected to Vigil Honor.
The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors. (From the OA website) It is a great honor to have been chosen to be a Vigil member.
Since I have been giving more thought about the Order of the Arrow, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on OA membership and what the Order of the Arrow really means [to me].
First some background on the Order of the Arrow. And rather than rediscover the wheel, I am going to use information found at the Order of the Arrow website.
The Order of the Arrow was founded in 1915 by Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson at the Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp. Goodman and Edson were looking for ways to recognize campers that demonstrated a cheerful spirit and service. In those days there were many camp honor societies throughout the Nations Scout camps. Some of those were the Gimogash, Ku-Ni-Eh, Nani Ba Zhu, Firecrafters and Mic O Say. Over time many of those camper honor societies merged and became local Lodges within the Order of the Arrow. Mic O Say is still active and recognized by the Boy Scouts of America.
The Order of the Arrow became a part of the National Program of the Boy Scouts of America in 1934. By 1948, the OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. Since then the Order of the Arrow has expanded to over 300 Lodges, most Lodges representing a Council, although some Lodges make up multiple Council areas.
The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults. The Order of the Arrow is completely youth led. A member of the OA is consider a youth until his 21st birthday.
The OA is more than just an honor society. It has a specific purpose and looks to gain members that loyal live up to those goals. It is for that reason that members should be chosen from within their units that best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. If the Scout is willing to not only live the Oath and Law daily, but dedicate himself to service than he is a good candidate for the Order of the Arrow. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, you will find that many if not all camp staff at your local Scout camp are members of the OA. They promote camping and Scout spirit daily making our Scout camps fantastic. Arrowmen serve promoting year-round and long-term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America’s youth. One of the great ways that the OA promotes long-term retention in Scouting is through ceremonies starting with Arrow of Light and Cross Over ceremonies.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.
Just like the Aims of the Boy Scouts of America, membership in the Order of the Arrow solidify in a Scout of Scouter the drive to be of service and grow in Character, Citizenship and fitness. The Order of the Arrow is summed up in three words, often seen as WWW. Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service. In other words, the OA is the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.
The OA is Local and it is National. What I mean by that is simply this. Just like your Troop is local and the programs offered at the Troop level are planned and executed locally, you and your Troop are part of the National Council or organization. This is strength in program and resources. The OA has many great local Lodge and Chapter programs, but the programs offered through the National Organization demonstrate the strength of the Order.
The support of the Order of the Arrow for the National Journey to Excellence program is one such program. JTE for the OA replaced the National Quality Lodge program and gave the OA a better tool of measuring the Quality program it offered at the National and Lodge level.
The National OA Endowment was formed more than 30 years ago as means for the Order to fund scholarships and special programs. The national Order of the Arrow committee oversees the annual program budget which is funded using the earnings from the national OA endowment.
And there are more programs at the Lodge level that benefit the local Council, Arrowmen, and Scouts in general.
The Order of the Arrow has its own recognition programs also. You can read all about the OA’s awards at their site.
OK… so that’s the Order of the Arrow from the book But where the Sash meets the Scout what does the Order of the Arrow mean and represent.
I won’t go into the ceremony of the Order of Arrow other than to say from the beginning the Order of the Arrow, through its ceremony and tradition call on the Scout/Scouter to Find the Arrow.
The Arrow is that symbol that we use in Arrow of Light ceremonies to signify a journey. An adventure that is straight and true. A trail that leads the individual to find the right path in life. One of dedicated service to others and the living of the Scout Oath and Law. So in finding the arrow, we strive daily to seek that which is an honorable way of living.
The Order of the Arrow uses the legend of the Lenni Lenape Indians of the Delaware to start the members of the OA on that journey. It is a journey marked by service to others.
Personal Thoughts on the Order of the Arrow.
As stated above, the OA has high-minded goals and bases its foundation on service. This is why I initially started to like the Order of the Arrow. Well, lets back up for a minute… This is why I started to like it as a Scoutmaster. I was first introduced to the OA as a youth at Camp Freedom in Germany. The initial impact of Indians coming across a lake at night in canoes holding torches to light the way. A Great Chief that called his Brothers to seek those that were worthy to join the tribe.. those things as a Scout fascinated me. It was mysterious and cool. It was special. When I went through my ordeal we were given an arrow carved from a piece of wood. We had to wear that arrow around our neck and if we violated any of the rules of the ordeal a chunk was cut from the arrow. This tested us as young men to be disciplined and live that part of the oath that called us to be obedient. For what ever reason, that is no longer a virtue that parents feel important these days and the cutting of corner or chunk of wood is recognized not to reinforce expected behavior but that of offending or hurting the feelings of the person in violation of the agreed rules. But the couple of days that we worked hard serving our camp, quietly laboring cheerfully left a mark on us.
I had the pleasure of becoming a Brotherhood member of the Order with my oldest son. Again, we renewed our commitment to service. John later became a Chapter officer and served the lodge as an Ordeal master as well as a member of the Pre Ordeal, Ordeal, and Brotherhood ceremonies teams. Josh, my youngest son also sealed his membership in the Order of the Arrow as a Brotherhood member and served as an Elangomate during an Ordeal. Having my sons as members made being a member of the Order special in a different way. Watching them grow with an attitude of service was a great thing.
John, our oldest son continues his journey, even though out of Scouting now as a Vigil member. Those values or Cheerful Service carries with him in his daily life. Josh, our youngest, although out of Scouting now also does not stray from his commitment to live the Scout Oath and Law and be of service also. Both look back at their Scouting life with fond memories of time spent with the Order of the Arrow.
Me, in my role as Scoutmaster value the added emphasis that the OA places on living the Oath and Law and being one that goes above and beyond that of an “average” Scout. That may be that thing that is to set Arrowmen apart. We are all called to serve and live the values of the Oath and Law… but as Arrowmen we commit to taking it a step further and making that a life long commitment. Being a Brother in Scouting and to our fellow-man. To serve cheerfully.
In a perfect world that meaning and those commitments would resonate within every Arrowmen. Often times it is lost in a sash and flap and just another Scouting thing. As is with those Scouts that say the Oath each week at their meetings, but fail to live the standard of it, there are Arrowmen that fall short. But the Arrow is within them. The need only to find it.
That happens when the mature and look into themselves and see where their lives are headed. It happens when they see examples of Scouts and Scouters that truly live those values. The example of leaders that proudly wear the symbols of membership and share the meaning and journey of seeking the arrow.
Elections are held annually for membership in the Order of the Arrow. The Scoutmaster sets the ballot of eligible Scouts. Scouts that have met the requirements of membership and more importantly are those Scouts that have demonstrated leadership in serving their fellow Scout. I think also that we need to look at the Scouts potential to lead and serve. I have seen Scouts that met the requirements but fell short in the service area that really took to the OA. Becoming members of ceremonies teams and working for their troop and Council at camps and within the service opportunities offered through the Lodge. The OA can enhance a Troops program because of the higher calling of the Arrowmen.
Now, I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but it does work. You can see it in the faces of a Scout called to serve. Reluctantly at first he finds success and meaning in his leadership and service.
The Order of the Arrow is good for Troops. I know of many Scoutmasters that feel that the OA takes away from Troop programs. When used correctly, the OA can be a game changer in a unit. It is not meant to be secret or exclusive. It is meant to enhance service and leadership. It is designed to give incentive to Scouts looking for more. In my opinion it is a great way to focus a Scout in the direction of finding the Arrow.
Where is the Arrow? It is up to you. We know that the foundation is a life that is right and true, but the Arrow is within each of us to seek and find. Once found, a life of cheerful service becomes the norm and our society is better for it. It makes the good Scout a Great Scout. In turn making Scouting better.
This organization, founded to honor those that served camps has grown into an organization that is looked to as the Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America. That higher calling to serve, what more could Scouting ask for?
If you are a Scoutmaster not sure that support of the OA is the right way to go, rethink that. Get it into your unit and watch the difference come alive.
For those of you that are in support of the Order of the Arrow.. Thank you.. keep it up.
I look forward to going through my Vigil Induction. I don’t know what is ahead, but knowing the journey that I was set on at Camp Freedom those many years ago, I know that it will get me a step closer to finding the Arrow in me.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
**A note about the picture on top of this post.. From left to right in the picture are members of my Troop doing a Cross over ceremony. First on the left is James, now an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member, Second is my Youngest son Josh. A Brotherhood member and finished Scouting as a youth as a Life Scout. Third is my oldest son John. He is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member. Forth is Parker, he is an Eagle Scout and Brotherhood member. Finally is Lucas, he is wrapping up his Eagle Award right now and is a Brotherhood member of the OA.
Today marks the 104th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America! And the BSA is going strong! As I thought about today’s anniversary in preparation for our unit’s Red and Green celebration tomorrow I could not help but think about why the Boy Scouts of America is so strong.
It grows its strength not from the National Office. It does get gain its strength from Council Executives or Professionals down at your local Scout office. The strength of the BSA is not in District committee’s or Commissioners. The strength of Scouting comes from its Scouts and the volunteers at the unit level. Packs, Troops, and Crews are the strength of Scouting. It is for them that everything else drives it’s purpose. It is adventure found in Scouting that invites young men to join. It is fun in the unit that makes them stay. It is the learning that is discovered that one day shows itself and causes the Scout to reflect.
The Boy Scouts of America has found that strength for 104 years. There have been rocky times and times of great celebration. The BSA has been there in peace and in war and through it all, the membership, the strength shines through.
Controversy and differing opinion has not stopped Scouting and it never will as long as units stay alive and continue to deliver the promise.
Politics and Religion can not stand in the way of great program. In an organization where everyone is welcome and everyone’s ideas and opinions are valid and heard. An organization with a firm foundation built on strong values.. the values of the strength, the members that believe in being Trustworthy and Kind, Loyal and Obedient, Helpful and Friendly, Courteous and Brave, Thrifty and Clean, and of course Reverent. We have these values that support a promise that we.. the strength of the organization… live out in our daily lives. That is why it has lasted 104 years and will continue to last.
Scouting’s strength is in all of us. From the Chief Scout Executive to the brand new Tiger Cub. We are the organization that is a game with a purpose.
We know that when we follow the Vision of the organization great things happen. There are no other youth groups like it. Not in size, scope, or program. This is Scouting and this year we celebrate 104 years.
I had the pleasure of celebrating the 100th Anniversary at the National Jamboree! I am so glad that my son’s and I got to be at that extra special event. The night of the big arena program left a lasting impact on me as a Scouter. When we lit the candles and about 80 thousand Scouts and Scouters all pledged to live the Oath together I was moved. Then in a flash, we blew out the candles on a great event, but the dawning of the next 100 years of Scouting in America. The candles extinguished ushered in a fire works display that was so big it reminded me of just how big and great Scouting is. And the fun can not be matched.
Lots of thoughts today about 104 years of Scouting in America… not one of those 110 or 125 type celebrations, but very significant given the climate of the country we are in. The Boy Scouts of America is still the values based organization that teaches young people to be great adults. Character, Citizenship, and fit for our future.
Happy Anniversary to the Boy Scouts of America!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Before I get into today’s post I want to thank every one for their interest in the review of Scoutbook.com. Unfortunately I was only given three free subscriptions and they went to the first three emails I received. But the response was overwhelming. 50 of you emailed for a shot at the subscription.
So the folks at Scoutbook.com have given me another offer… if you subscribe for a year of Scoutbook and put in THESCOUTMASTERMINUTE in the coupon code at check out you will get 10% off your subscription.
Thank you to Scoutbook.com and thank all of you for supporting me and them.
Now on with the regular scheduled blog post…
Baden Powell understood young men, he had a connection with the way they learned, developed and reacted to teaching styles and learning environments. In the following excerpt from the Lessons from the Varsity life by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell he discusses the Scout law.
1. A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED.
2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL.
3. A SCOUT’s DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL.
4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL.
5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS.
6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS.
7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS.
8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES UNDER ALL DIFFICULTIES.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY.
10. A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED.”
Scouting across the world adopted the law and modified it to meet the needs of the national programs in which they applied. But the rule of DO and not Don’t carried throughout. We learn through our Scout Law what we should Do and Be, not what we should not do or be. Unlike the 10 commandments that teach us what not to do and be, the Scout Law encourages a life of Service and ethical attitudes. It gives us a starting point from which we test our decisions and actions that follow.
I found it interesting that the other day I over heard a man talking about the “Say it out loud test”. This tested whether or not one should engage in something that may not be sound. The way it works is that before you do something, say it out loud. If it does not sound right in your head… don’t do it.
Baden Powell encouraged us to DO the right thing. He did not want to burden us with a list of DON’Ts… DO be Trustworthy, DO be Loyal, DO be Helpful, DO be Friendly, DO be Courteous, DO be Kind, DO be Obedient, DO be Cheerful, DO be Thrifty, DO be Brave, DO be Clean, and DO be Reverent. Putting this positive attitude in our rules to live by makes it easier. We all enjoy it when we are given opportunity and latitude. When I am told that I can do something, I feel a lot better than when someone tells me I can’t.y it out loud. For example, if you are going to rob a bank. Say it out loud. It just sounds wrong… then don’t do it.
Another example; “Hey lets all put a knife in the wall socket”… say it out loud… it does not even sound right, does it? Then don’t do it.
As Scouts and future leaders of America, we encourage you to BE, KNOW, and DO. You know what right looks like.. you have the power to DO it!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night at our Troop meeting I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of super enthusiastic Webelos. They came to the meeting to wrap up their Arrow of Light requirement of participating in a Scoutmaster Conference.
During the course of our discussion, we did it as a group, I talked about the Scout Oath and Law and gave them some pointers for not only knowing how to say the Scout Oath, but how to remember the promises you make in saying the Oath and living it daily.
I explained to them the three promises.
Duty to God and Country. It is important to always remember our Duty to our God and this great Country of ours. Our God that has blessed us and continues to pour out his love for us. No matter how you view that God or by which name you call him, he has given us so much and we need to remember our Duty to love him and serve him with all of our Heart, our Soul, and our Mind. And this Country, no matter what your political slant is is a Country that is free. A Country that still values Liberty over all. It is our Country that we call home and we need to serve it where and how we can.
Duty to Other people. We pledge to help other people at all times. We need to be of help in our community, our home, and everywhere that we have an opportunity to make a difference. It is when we have a Duty to others that we learn to live with an attitude of selfless service.
And finally, our Duty to our Selves. To keep ourselves Physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally Straight. When we remember our promise to ourselves we can be a better person for others. Staying strong, fit, we can be an example of wellness and enjoy a life without the burden of illness. Being mentally awake we continue to learn, to sharpen our skills, and to be aware of the needs around us. And to be morally straight keeps our internal compass of right heading the way that makes us the people of Character that we are. It guides us to do the right thing at all times.
Those three promises can be found in the Scout sign, a daily reminder to live the promises that we make each time we say the Scout Oath.
We say the Oath aloud each Monday night at our Troop meeting, this is an accountability measure. We all hear one another say the Oath and we hold each other to the promises that we make.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is early Saturday morning and instead of firing up the alcohol stove, rigging up some hammock stuff, or prepping for a gear review, I am adding to a response post that I have been working on for two days. So pardon the interruption, but I need to do this and then move on.
It is very well known if you have spent more than a day or two on this blog, in my troop, and within my group of friends, my opinion on the non discrimination policy. A policy that now allows the Boy Scouts of America to do the right thing and make our program available to ALL young men. I have taken a lot of heat for my stance.. a stance by the way which remains simply… I DON’T CARE. Nothing in the BSA is going to change other than we are opening our doors to those young men that are not currently made welcome.
I received a lengthy email on Wednesday that essentially called me immoral and instructed me on the ways in which I would find myself in hell. I am not going to share all the details of the email, I am sure that this “Follower of Christ” would be ashamed at himself if he saw his email on the internet, although he is more than likely no longer following the blog. Dang, lost one.
What I find remarkable in all of this is the fact that this has drawn so much anxiety. Again if you are interested in my position or where I stand, read the blog. I am not going to rehash all of this over and over and this will… I promise be the last I blog about it. There are more important issues to address than this.
What I want to address here.. after many hits of the edit button.. is this issue of morality. Folks, you have no idea how much this post has changed since Wednesday. But the more I thought about it, prayed about it, and re read it over and over, the more I thought this is a perfect example of being Scout like.. even Christ like or follower of Christ.. which by the way is where we get the word “Christian”.
Central to the faith is this idea of morality. The common definition of which is this: The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. (Websters) Religious Morality expands the definition by adding that system in which we learn how to live within those rules that govern moral thinking or morality. So does Scouting to a certain degree in that we make a promise to live by a certain set of rules or code. The Scout Oath and Law.
The Oath and Law were not derived from the Church rather, they came from a need to teach young men how to live a certain way stemming from a sense of honor and chivalry. Most people familiar with the Scouting movement understand that while Baden Powell felt a strong belief that religion plays a major role in the upbringing of a young man, Scouting was not a substitute for the Church, nor was it an extension of it. And while Churches have played a major role, especially here in the United States (not as much in other countries), Scouting is not Church.
So whats that got to do with morality? It is the Boy Scouts of Americas position that morality, reinforced by the code that we live in Scouting is taught at home and in the Church. When we pledge to be morality straight, we are pledging that we will live “in accord with standards of right or good conduct”. Now where does that come from? Is it through the Church that we only know what is right or wrong? Long before I could understand what the Church was teaching me I understood the difference between right and wrong. It was through more growth and understanding that I learned why certain things were right or wrong.
Living the Scout law directs the person to do what is right. But the twelve points of the Scout law are common sense. One really does not need further explanation as to why it is important to be Trustworthy or Kind. They are just right and deep inside each of us we know that. To be clean with our thoughts, words, and deeds are just right. I don’t need the Church to tell me that. It’s just right.
Reverent. What does the Scout law say about that? A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others. That is all that the BSA says about it.
When it comes to the part of the Scout Oath when we make our promise to be morality straight it says; Being morally straight means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character. And since this has become a religion argument and not one that really speaks to real morality, what of Duty to God as outlined in the Scout Oath. ” Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.” from the Scout handbooks going back as far as I could find in my collection (1930’s).
I don’t know when the perception that Scouting was all about religion came in. I don’t remember it playing a major role other than Grace before meals and Scouts Own services when I was a Scout. I guess it has always played a part but it has never been the Main thing.
So what about this current non issue and why I’m heading straight to hell.
As a Scoutmaster I do not get to decide which Church is the right one. I don’t get to not sign off a handbook because the Scout believes in one thing or another. I don’t get to go to his living room and instruct his family on morality. I am example of living right. I am a Scoutmaster all the time, 24/7 and when I meet a Scout in our town they see an example of the Oath and Law.
I don’t need a Church to tell me to be friendly, courteous, or obedient. I am a believer in Christ and know what I was taught in the Church. To love my neighbor. To do unto others as I would have done to me. So why then would I discriminate based on orientation of anything. That is up to them and their God. I am not the judge and neither is my emailer friend.
I am not worried about law suits because boys are boys and in the context of Scouting they are by and large good. They don’t care about this issue, just ask them. It is the parents that are afraid that homosexuality will rub off on their son. I don’t think it works that way. But if it does than you better pull your son out of School, Sports, community events, and yep.. Church. It’s not a vapor virus that will infect your son.
There is no place for the sexuality discussion in Scouting, gay or straight. That has not changed and it won’t change.
Morality is where your heart is. You learn it from your family and develop it through your church, school, friendships. In Scouting we have our code of conduct. That is and will not change.
I have said enough on this and as promised once I hit ‘publish’ I am done with it. On January the 6th we held our first meeting of the year. The first meeting that would allow for openly gay boys to join Scouting. We did not get one new application that night. hmmm.
If you must leave Scouting over this. Sorry to see you go. I would challenge you to think about how you treat people and what your Church is teaching in so far as who your neighbor is. I really hope that I am not going to hell like this guy says I am. I have already been to Iraq.. so I know what it’s like. That and everyone here knows I enjoy Cold weather camping.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7: 1-2
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3: 12-14.
And Finally, from John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
And now I am finished with this subject.
Have a Great Scouting Day!