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!