“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”- John F. Kennedy
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.” ― Robert Baden-Powell
Service. Given with no expectation of something in return is how a Scout must live to hold up his end of the promise he makes in the Scout Oath and Law. But the world we live in today dictates that something is gained when something is given. It is how things work. Except when we are talking about true leadership which of course is a dedicated life of service.
We see in the quotes above a call to service. John F. Kennedy in his famous “ask not” inaugural speech instructed America and the World to be of service to one another. To forgo expectation of getting, but rather to give. It is when we collectively give and expect nothing in return that we truly serve.
Martin Luther King Jr. quoted from the Bible sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. A perfect example of giving, of serving our fellow man, not just those that we like or we find in our circles.
And finally, our founder Baden Powell and his reminder that happiness comes from serving other. These are not new concepts nor are they ground breaking discoveries. They are simple truths that in our self absorbed world we in Scouting need to take back and show that service is not a thing of the past.
I saw on TV the other night a Coca Cola commercial. A man buys a Coke ™ and sees a girl that could use it more than her. She accepts the Coke and immediately sees someone else that needs it, so in turn gives it.. and so on until a meteor strikes the stand where the Coke was originally purchased. The Coke is handed to the man working the stand. A full circle of “paying forward”. It is a nice message, but reality being what it is, I would venture to guess that Coke would never have made it around the circle.
Having discussions with our Scouts about service reinforces to me that we have a ways to go when it comes to driving home this point of service selflessly.
The discussions about service always result in “what do I get out of it”. I get something signed in my book for rank. I get service hours applied to this or that. I get.. I get.. I get.
Talking with a recent Scout about the completion of his Eagle Project I reminded him that it did not matter what the project was.. it is not about the project it is about leadership and being a servant leader. The project is the vehicle that allows for the leadership to be demonstrated. “Yeah but..” the Scout started.. “I get credit for high School graduations community service points for this project”. Yes you do, what then again, what is the point. To serve or to get.
It has become a running joke that Scouts help old ladies across the street. Values of days gone by when Scouts sought out those opportunities to be helpful have been replaced by opportunities to get something in return. I will help that person when I get something whether that is credit, recognition, or something tangible like money, a free dinner, or yes even money.
In ancient times when a Roman Soldier was to become part of the Principales or a Centurion, he would have to stand watch all night long. This was to demonstrate to his men that he was not beyond the duties of a soldier. It also put his men’s welfare above his own allowing them to sleep while he kept watch. As he kept watch those leaders above him would also demonstrate the model of selfless leadership (service) as they paid him visits throughout the night bringing him small tokens, food, drink, and other items that would make his watch a little more comfortable. These acts of service modeled the expectation of this new leader. He would see what it would take to be a leader in the Cohort. Nothing was expected by the new leader, he was giving of himself and being trained in servant leadership. This lead from the front attitude shaped the Roman Legions and made them strong.
We can learn a lot about our leadership and our service from these examples. From the Roman Legions to John F.Kennedy we are called to serve. We are called to bring happiness to others through our Service.
We make a promise to help other people at all times. We should try to keep that promise.
Oh, I know its hard. But think about that Coke ™ commercial. If we all past along an attitude of service we can help the world… or at least our communities become better places to live.
You don’t have to be a Hero or wear a badge, you need only remember that we do make a promise to be helpful and that as Baden Powell said, “The main question of life is not “what can I get?” but “what can I give?”
Something to think about when you have that next discussion about service with your Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Over the past two weeks we have had a wonderful Scouting experience learning about the fantastic people that we have in Scouting. Our Council Court of Honor was held a few weeks back honoring those that received their Silver Beaver award this year. As they read the bio’s of the recipients I sat listening and soon found myself in awe of the people that had the shiny new Blue and White ribbon around their neck holding on to that little beaver. I leaned to the person next to me and mentioned how proud I am to be there among all these great people. People that do so much for Scouting and the youth in our programs. The hours of service they dedicate, the talents they have, and the love for Scouting made me feel that Scouting is in good hands with people like this. He leaned over to me and pulled on my Silver Beaver… “yep” he said, “Make you feel good to call them your friends”.
Then the big Rendezvous weekend with the Order of the Arrow. Our Lodges biggest event and when we have our annual Lodge Awards banquet. The Rendezvous is always a great event, this year marked with the 100th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow, needless to say it was going to be special.
Rendezvous is always fun and the annual gathering of the Liars Club. A great group of Scout friends of mine, each year we take some time to just sit and chat,, liars club? The first liar does not have a chance in that group. Seriously, we have a great time together and the discussions typically result in fixing all the problems in Scouting and sharing best practices within our Troops.
Again it is one of those things that remind me of the great people that are in Scouting and all of the fantastic things that they do. Saturday evenings events conclude with the awards banquet. The Lodge Chief gives a state of the Lodge address sharing the members with the amazing things that the Lodge did last year. Thousands hours of service, Journey to Excellence (Gold) Lodge, Thousands of dollars donated that help the council camps and other programs, a recap of the Lodge service project. Really impressive to say the least. And just when you think you have seen the best in Scouting they present the Founders Awards and the Lodge Service awards.
The Founder’s Award recognizes Arrowmen who have given outstanding service to their lodge. The award is reserved for an Arrowman who demonstrates that he or she personifies the spirit of selfless service, as advocated by founder E. Urner Goodman and co founder Carroll A. Edson. I love this award in that every Scout or Scouter that I have seen that was awarded it truly exemplify that which I think is the very best of not only the Order of the Arrow, but Scouting.
This year was no exception.
The Lodge Service Award is also presented to those members of the Lodge that go above and beyond that which the average Arrowmen does in service to the Lodge and as a result the Council and Scouting.
The Lodge awarded 5 Lodge service awards this year, and again, they are 5 people that are so remarkably deserving that it leaves me thinking about how much I admire those recipients for the work that they do within Scouting and their communities.
The last recognition of the night is the call out of the Vigil Candidates for the year. This is a special group of people that have proven themselves worthy of the Order of the Arrows highest honor. From the Order of the Arrow’s website; Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor. It calls for an individual with an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation. 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. The Vigil Honor is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who, by reason of exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest, have made distinguished contributions beyond the immediate responsibilities of their position of office to one or more of the following: Lodge, the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting community, and our Scout Camps.
After the banquet a group of us sat and talked about the evening. I shared my thoughts and how impressed I am of everyone that received awards. We talked about what motivates people to do as these recipients have done. It takes a willingness to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say “I am going to be great today”.
It takes a person that understands that if we aim at the bulls eye we will hit it more times than not. This commitment to not being average, after all, any one can hit the target… but hitting the bulls eye takes practice, skill, and focus. We need to have that kind of focus when we talk about making a commitment to being a cheerful servant. Again, not being willing to be average. Just like our Silver Beavers, Lodge Service award, and Founders Award recipients have been recognized for the service they have done, it is never done for the award but because they have been focused on being the very best that they can be.
I shared these thoughts with my Scouts the other night at our meeting. I asked them to take that look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are willing to be their best.. not good. Good in not good enough in the world today. Every morning they need to make a commitment to being a great person.
I think that we can look to our Founder, Baden Powell when he said that “But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.” This thought has weighed on my mind lately as I watch all of the great things that are happening in Scouting. All of this at the individual level.. and that is what drives Scouting. Being Great! Great people doing Great things. This helps our program, our Scouts, and the world.
I am happy to know these people and to be counted with them.. I wake up every morning and try me best to be one of those that do something great. I don’t always hit that bulls eye.. but at least I am aiming to be my very best.
Are you hitting the target? Are you aiming? Think about it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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!
Categories: Advancement, Character, Citizenship, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, Values
Tags: leadership, mentoring, Scouting, service
During my recent Vigil Ordeal I had lots of time to sit and think. Being a student of Baden Powell, thought about the book Aides to Scoutmastership. Powell authored this book in 1920 and its contents hold true today. Substitute King and Queen and some of the Victorian era language, and the message Baden Powell sent to Scoutmasters in 2014 is spot on.
During Vigil Ordeal I gave a lot of thought to the idea of service. After all, this was the central focus of the Vigil. Learning about myself and finding that way in which I could be a leader in service.
When I got home I went to my copy of Aides to Scoutmastership and reread it knowing that our Founder would once again speak to me from its pages.
I stumbled on this passage that I will share in its entirety. It speaks volumes as to our attitude of service and the importance of developing in our Scouts that habit of service.
When I was a Scout we had a little coin that we carried, it reminded us to “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Once the good turn was done, the coin was transferred to the other pocket, and so it went one good turn after another.
I hope you find this passage as meaningful as I do.
TO ERADICATE SELFISHNESS – THE GOOD TURN HABIT
The Scouting practices tend in a practical way to educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness. Once he becomes charitable he is well on the way to overcome or to eradicate the danger of this habit. The Promise that a Scout makes on joining has as its first point: “To do my duty to God.” Note that it does not say “To be loyal to God,” since this would merely be a state of mind, but to do something, which is the positive, active attitude.
The main method in the Boy Scout Movement is to give some form of positive training rather than merely to inculcate negative precepts, since the boy is always ready to do rather than to digest.
Therefore, we put into his activities the practice of Good Turns in his daily life as a foundation of future goodwill and helpfulness to others. The religious basis underlying this is common to all denominations, and we, therefore, interfere with the form of none.
The boy can then realize better that part of his “Duty to God” is to take care of and develop as a sacred trust those talents with which God has equipped him for his passage through this life; the body with its health and strength and reproductive powers to be used in God’s service; the mind with its wonderful reasoning, memory and appreciation, which place him above the animal world; and the soul, that bit of God which is within him-namely, Love, which can be developed and made stronger by continual expression and practice. Thus we teach him that to do his Duty to God means, not merely to lean on His kindness, but to do His will by practicing love towards one’s neighbor.
The curious thing is that this duty of Service for Others through Good Turns is the one to which Scouts rise with the fullest alacrity. On this seemingly small foundation (the giving up of small personal conveniences or pleasures in order to render service) is built the character of self-sacrifice for others.
Let me know what you think of this passage and share your ideas about growing an attitude of service in your Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I always tell the Scouts of my Troop that mediocre is never good enough. Expect more of yourself and always do your best. Don’t just do good… Good may not be good enough and if you start early in life expecting more you will achieve more later in life.
We see every day in the world around us people who expect little of themselves and don’t even try. They live mediocre lives and get very little out of life. These people complain a lot and expect every one else to be as unhappy as they are.
Last night I attended my son’s Track and Field awards celebration. His last year in High School track. Josh is a sprinter and part of the relay teams. The track coach shared some thoughts at the start of the program that I thought hit the nail on the head when it comes to our discussion of doing your very best in life and never settling for mediocre.
He shared the story of a French pole vaulter named Renaud Lavillerie. In February of 2014 Lavillerie set the World Record by vaulting an incredible 6.16 meters, that’s 20.21 feet. HOLY SMOKE!! Do you know what 20.21 feet looks like? Take a tape measure and measure that out in your house. Or lay that on your house. As I listened to this great accomplishment I could not help but thinking about what it took to get there.
He had to start with the bar set at a certain height and once he cleared it, it was on to the next height. But what made him want to keep pushing it higher and higher. He is not mediocre. He was not going to settle for less.
Not settling for less is what is important. I often see Scouts and people in general that tend to settle for less. They “Max the minimum” as one leader told me once when looking at a group of people that we giving less than 100%. Allowing yourself to never to set the bar higher than you think you can jump will keep you from achieving your potential. You have no idea what that is until you push your limits.
I watch our Scouts when they first attempt climbing. They lack trust and confidence in themselves. That is because they have never pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone. They are comfortable keeping the bar set low enough to see one success after each other meaningless success. Success is only good once for each task. Once complete you should strive for the next level of success and so on.
Setting your bar higher will lead you to achieving greater things. In our Troop we have the 5 leadership Principles that will make you a better leader. They force you to set your bar higher. Learning to lead yourself can be painful and uncomfortable. It makes the leader see where the bar is and asks the question are you willing to move it up. Focusing on the small things again force the leader to not accept mediocre behavior. Like the pole vaulter the little things allowed him to run, plant the pole, and whip his body over incredible heights. He could not have done the big thing without focus on the smaller things. Modeling Expected behavior is hard. It requires that you are your best all the time. That is what we want.. the best. So you must as a leader model what Best looks like. Best then pushes us to raise the bar. Communicating effectively too asks us to raise the bar in how we share our ideas and thoughts with other people. It requires us to use multiple modes of communication and then evaluate that communication to ensure it is effective. And finally being a Servant Leader. In the world we live in today, where self if more important than others it is refreshing to see people raise their bar and become a leader in serving other people… at all times. This is a bar that is higher than any one can leap, but a bar that can be achieved within the heart. It is bar that needs to be set high and reached, and then set higher. It is not till the leader becomes a servant that he will ever be an effective leader. That bar needs to be realized in each of us.
Setting your bar higher will give you a better, richer, more full life. Set your bar higher!
Have a Great Scouting Day!