There has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone. Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different. Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.” It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting. We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that. There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure. We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads. I think they should be seeking adventure! Like we did when I was a boy. Adventure! Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70’s and 80’s as there are today. The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings. Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere. We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright. Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner. Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure. We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around. The fewer of them the better. Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok. We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure. I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever. Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel. Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days. We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park. 2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went. We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.” The best way! I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there. I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing. You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic. I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back. I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards. I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts. Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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