The Great Non Negotiable

Adult Leader RolesI often talk about Character with our Scouts and on this blog.  To me Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  Character is that which once you give it away, you can not get it back.  Character can never be taken from you, but you can freely give it away.  We see examples of this daily, we need only to look to our Nations Politicians and how they compromise their integrity and Character when they fail to live the values that we all seem to hold true.  Being Trustworthy and Loyal, Brave and Obedient.  Our Governor here in Oregon seems to push the limits of integrity weekly.
When these “role models” give away their character while the public watches we know that they are willing to stretch their integrity to any limit.
They give it away and can never get it back.  We know what they are up to and nothing they can do will repair the damage done.
So it goes with our young men in Scouting.  Beginning at the early age when a Scout becomes a Tiger Cub we teach them Character Connections, themes that run through the entire program that set them on a course to develop Character and keep it.
“Character development should extend into every aspect of a boy’s life. Character development should also extend into every aspect of Cub Scouting.”   The core values that begin to make up a young man’s character in Cub Scouts are like a hand prepared for the glove that will be the Scout Law once he joins the Boy Scout program.  For this reason, I am happy with the change the Boy Scouts of America has put in place for all Scouts, no matter which program they participate will all learn and live the Scout Oath and Law.
In the Scoutmaster conferences I conduct with the Scouts of my Troop we often spend a great deal of time discussing character.  The skills portion of their advancement play a small role when compared to the way they act and grow.
Many times we direct a Scout away from certain behaviors during these discussions. Unfortunately, their school environment does not value the same character as we do.  I share the fact that Character is in fact a Non negotiable item in life.  Well, only if they want to have a good life that is full of meaning and value.
They have to understand that they can never negotiate their character away.  They need to know that the values that shape their character which we find in the Scout law are all good for their future and when lived will ensure character is kept. I find it disturbing that they are often willing at a young age to begin the compromise of these values.  It is not an issue of “cool” or even Scouting.  It is an issue of developing these young men.  I have said it before and will continue to say it… It is not my job as a Scoutmaster to produce Eagle Scouts, I am here to help develop men of Character.
There is an expectation that Eagle Scouts have Character, but in some cases the Scoutmaster valued the rank over the substance.  Their score card was compromised by the want to have Eagle Scouts and not good men.  The good news is that you can have both if you take the time to expect good character and never negotiate it away so a young man can feel good about getting rank.
If they are not ready.. they are not ready.  It is not for us to add to or take away from the requirements, but it is also up to the Scout and the Scoutmaster to agree on how he is “Living the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.”  Now in that agreement my Scouts know that I will not negotiate when in comes to character.  I care less about how they feel and more about how they act.  Not a popular opinion in a day and age where every one gets a participation ribbon and trophy for having a pulse.  I want to see our Scouts go on and become successful, what ever that looks like in the future.  I never want to see them in the paper or the nightly news in hand cuffs or in a scandal.  I never want to see them negotiate away their character.  Selling their Eagle medal for higher pay or recognition, status or position.
Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  We need to teach that to our Scouts and expect it from them.. and yes, even if that means they develop a bit more before they are awarded the next rank.
If they don’t get it by the age of 18, we have more problems than merit badges and Eagle medals.
Just something to think about.. I do.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

One comment

  1. Once again a another Great Borg. “Character is the Great Non Negotiable” I’ve been a Scoutmaster now for 4yr. and every Conference begins and Ends with how important is character to them. On a another note. How do you relay that same value to the parents.”helicopter parent” that only want’s the program has to offer on their scouts college application then what the program really has to offer? At every outing the Leaders and i wonder why some of our Parents believe that the programing is outdated and why are we so demanding that their scout follow the Oath and Law. How do you Deal/Communicate with those king of Parent?

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