Over the last couple of weeks Scouter friends and I have had numerous discussions about Scouting in our District. After the last Scoutmaster training session it became pretty clear that many Scouters have heard about the methods of Scouting, but do not really put them into practice in their units. Kind of like knowing that the BSA has a mission statement, but really it only applies at the National Level.. ahhh right? Ahhhh.. No.
We got to talking last weekend about the methods of Scouting and how we should be using them in our units. During the outdoor skills portion of the Scoutmaster training, it was unclear to many participants that the methods needed to be used to have a well-rounded program.. for that matter.. a Boy Scout Troop.
So I thought I would discuss the methods of Scouting over the next, lets see, 8 blog posts.
To quickly remind every one of what the methods are, they are: Ideals, Patrols, Outdoor Program, Advancement, Association with Adults, Personal Growth, Leadership Development, and the Uniform.
Those eight methods are the steps that we take to reach our goals of Citizenship, Character, and Fitness. The Boy Scout program (or the achievement of the goals) are dependant on all eight methods working at the unit level.
To start off the discussion we will dive into the IDEALS of Scouting. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes. These ideals are the foundation for everything that follows in the Boy Scout program. Without the ideals, it is just a club that goes camping. The building blocks for the Scouts character is directly tied to the ideals found in the Oath and Law. It is extremely important that every Scout learns the Oath and Law and practices these ideals daily. As a Scout advances it is a good idea for the Scout to do a self check on where he is in his character development. This is tough at times and some Scouts will understand or mature at a faster rate than his peers. That is why the self check is important. The Scout is not measuring himself against his peers, he is measuring himself against the Oath and Law which are lofty, but simple concepts that grow with the Scout as he negotiates his life. The basic understanding that he must be a person that strives to achieve those ideas outlined in the Oath and Law is important and should not be taken lightly by the Scoutmaster. It is ok to call out a Scout that is not demonstrating those values.
The other part of the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America are that they are not only an individual responsibility, but they are ideals, values, that are shared among the group. We all know and believe that the values expressed in the Oath and Law are good and true. We can all agree that every Scout, no matter what his background, education level, learning capability, or social status, can live up to the Oath and Law. It is hard, but it is attainable. Expecting that from every Scout and Scouter is reasonable.
These shared ideals are the foundation for the rest of the program. If they are modified or removed, there is no reason to continue. Character development hinges on the values found in the Oath and Law.
Dictionary.com defines Character as:
1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one’s character.
The Boy Scouts of America in setting one of its goals to develop men of Character considers this in its values. Time tested, tried, and unwavering values that shape a mans character.
The qualities of being someone who can be trusted, a man who is loyal to his family, friends, School, work etc. A young man who is helpful and works with a smile on his face, friendly, courteous and kind. Someone that is obedient to our laws, parents, employers and faith. A man with a cheerful spirit not someone who belly aches and brings down the morale of the team. A man who is thrifty with his money, time, and resources. This is the man who will develop a sound attitude of stewardship. Brave is not just for standing up for himself, it is standing up for other people, ideals, values, and that which the Scout believes in. Being Brave is important in the world we live in where our values are tested daily. And then the part of a man’s character that keeps him clean and reverent. These are matters of the mind, heart and body. The Scout should stay clean of mind and body. Spiritual health is important to for a well-rounded man of character. These values, when put in to practice demonstrate the attitudes of character. They are if you will.. the characteristics of character. I think we all can agree here that without them Scouting is not Scouting.
The method of our Ideals is the foundation of Scouting and the launching point for all of the rest of the methods. Everything ultimately comes back to the Oath and Law and as a Scoutmaster we need to continuously teach these values, not only with our words, but our actions.
St. Francis of Assisi said; “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” We should do the same with the Oath and Law.
Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or thought.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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