“Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. At the same time it is educative, and (like Mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receiveth.” Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
I have been digging into my copy of Aids to Scoutmastership once again. I find that the little book written by Baden-Powell in 1920 still holds water today. As BP makes clear in Aids to Scoutmastership, the book is not an instruction manual, rather it is a book outlining Why we do what we do in Scouting. And once we know why we are doing something it is easier to see the vision and achieve the goals or aims. I would encourage you to get a hard copy of this. Mine is full of notes and highlights.. a must for every Scoutmaster.
Seeing the vision and understanding the goals are an important part of the Scoutmasters job. I think that too many Scoutmasters get caught in the “game” that they lose focus on the goal. Now, “the game” may be different in each unit and dependent on the leader. Some pay particular attention to advancement, while others focus on the outings. In most cases there is a good balance, but there still is a missing piece. That piece is the Aims and the Why we are playing this game with a purpose.
It is nice to watch as a Scout becomes and Eagle Scout. As a Scoutmaster, I love to sit and talk with a young man who has earned the Eagle Award. Like the leader that misses the true goal of Scouting though a young man may only think that he has achieved the highest rank. He may thing that he is a the end of the journey because he is now an Eagle Scout. But that is not the case, he is far from done, he is just beginning.
In becoming an Eagle Scout he is starting to realize the vision and starting to grow in his manhood life long habits of good decision-making, life skills, leadership, and of course being a good citizen.
The other night I sat with a Scout in my troop for his Scoutmaster Conference. He has completed all of the requirements to earn his Eagle Award. Yes, he has completed all of the requirements, but he has actually become an Eagle Scout. In our discussion we talked more about the future and why he is going to be successful. He looked back at all of the challenges that got him to this point and I was happy to hear that instead of making them a negative thing, he looked back on them as learning points along his Scouting trail.
We talked about leadership. It has taken this Scout a little longer to develop into a leader, but he is there now and we talked about the different ways in which he developed those skills. It was important for me to remind him that in becoming an Eagle Scout he has demonstrated that he has what it takes to lead. The American public may not know much about Scouting other than helping old ladies across the street, but they all know that being an Eagle Scout is special. They look to Eagle Scouts to lead.
Where am I going with this?
We often lose the forest for the trees as they say. We make sure to teach camping skills and encourage Scouts to earn all the merit badges they can… but what of the Aims? What about the purpose of Scouting? I think that is what BP was reminding those leaders back in 1920 and he continues to remind us today… Stay focused on why we play this game with a purpose. It is not about Eagle Scouts. It is about Citizens of Character that are fit. The BSA reminds us in the mission statement that we are to teach young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes. This is why we go camping, do service projects, earn merit badges and become Eagle Scouts.
I love digging in that old book. It gets me refocused on what is important.
Have a Great Scouting Day!