When I was a young boy, my family instilled in me the value of being helpful. By my parents example they showed us how to be of service to our community, to our church, and to our neighbors. They were active in social functions that typically came with a cause. My Dad is a pretty good handy man and would often drag me to helping those that needed cabinets fixed or other repairs. We spent the better part of the spring of 1979 working in a Monastery doing odds and ends and the pay was great. Onion Soup.
I never once heard my Dad complain or ask for compensation for anything he ever did. It was just a part of the deal. Even to this day my parents are advocates for helping other people at all times.
And so as I grew up this attitude of service has stayed with me. In church they always ask of people to give their time, talents, and treasure. I always jokes that my treasure is limited but my time is free.. oh.. and limited talent too.
And so it is in Scouting. Saturday at our Program and Training conference I sat in and listened to a discussion about Friends of Scouting. The presenter asked the question why do we or why do we not give to FOS? A few answers went around the room. “To attain Presidential status and get free camping”, “To get a patch”, ‘To get the free advancement patches for our unit” were just a few. The common theme.. To Get.
Most people Give to Get. And that is the wrong approach when giving. We give for the program. We give so that our Council can maintain its outreach programs, maintain the camps we enjoy, and provide program for those that maybe would otherwise be left out. We should not give because we get something in return, we give because we can.
Back in 2008 I had the good fortune to give to the Council’s endowment through the James E. West Fellowship. Many Scouters half-joking could not resist to tease that I bought a knot. It was and is not about the knot. After thoughtful discussion with my wife, we decided that we could afford in our budget to give the $1000 over the year to help our Scouting programs. Knowing where the money goes was important to me and knowing that all of it would be used for bettering Scouting programs in our Council was the answer I needed. So we gave. Yes, we got a knot, but that knot to me is a demonstration, just like my parents showing me how to give and be of service, people who know and understand what the James E. West Fellowship is see that I am a servant leader. I wear it to be an example of giving. I put my money where my mouth is.
Many families take advantage of all that Scouting has to offer. We teach that “A Scout is Thrifty” and he pay’s his own way. But many families make excuses that the economy is bad, or we can’t afford this or that. I understand that times are tough, but times get tougher when we make bad choices. This may offend, but tough times are tougher when we make a choice to be lazy, wait for hand outs, or not accept our part in whatever it is that you value. Time and time again I hear Scout parents talk about how expensive Scouting can be. How much did you pay for those cigarettes? The average price of a pack of smokes today is $4 to $6. For the $60 spent on a carton of cigarettes you could send your kid to camp in a month. But who am I to tell you how to spend you money? The fact is, smokers value it over other things. No one needs to smoke, they make a choice to smoke. But for the money they literally burn, they could help their son have a great Scouting experience. Now, I’m picking on smokers here, why? Because they are the easy targets. You can see the dollars physically being burned with them and I can’t help but pick that out when they say they can’t afford Scouting. Truth be told, It pisses me off when they make excuses about money then light up a cigarette. I wonder about priorities and that obviously they are being selfish. That goes for lots of things. How many times do you eat out a week. I know for my family that’s at least a $40 to $50 trip. So you limit that activity and use the money for something better. I’m not suggesting that a night out is not called for here and there… but isn’t Scouting worth it?
Dollar for dollar you will not find a better value than Scouting. If you believe that, and make an effort to support that, than doing what it takes to keep it going should be a priority of yours. If not, then keep letting others do it for you…and the beauty is that you can expect everything that is offered.
I give, and expect nothing.
I love the Scouting movement and think that there is no better place for our young people to learn and practice what they learn to be productive members of our Country. Learning skills, teaching, practicing leadership, developing a sense of citizenship, and becoming men and women that value Character and understand that it certainly does matter.
I do this without pay or the expectation of compensation. My reward comes in seeing these kids grow up.
The fact of the matter is that to do this it costs and who better to provide than people who know and understand the value of the program?
But why expect something in return? Is that the spirit of giving? I have heard it said that “The only thing that take with you is what you leave behind”. I saw a great example of this in August down at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Now I do not think that I will ever be a millionaire, and I don’t think that I will ever be donating major tracks of land to the Boy Scouts of America. But what I do know is that my time is free, my talents are available, and my treasure, well I give what I can. And I think that is all one can ask for. With no strings attached, and nothing expected in return.. We give.
I am once again on the Wood Badge staff, and once again I give of time and talent, and I am sure some of the treasury will be spent. This is something that between my wife and I we have decided is good. It is good for us, it is good for those that come to the course, and it is good for Scouting. We both understand that the value of Scouting is greater than any dollar amount. The program is greater than any one leader. Scouting is life changing and worth every penny, every hour, and everyone’s talent.
Give. Not to Get, but because it is part of being a servant leader.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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