To be early…

timeclocks“To be early is to be on time…”  This is a saying that is often heard around Scouting and pardon me in this post, but one of my pet peeves.
I absolutely hate, yeah.. strong word.. but I hate this saying.  It does not send the correct message as intended.
The intent is to make sure that people are “on time”.  If a meeting starts at 7:30 PM, then the meeting starts at 7:30 PM. That is all.
The responsibility of starting the meeting or event on time is up to the person running the meeting, not the attendee.  So start the meeting on time.
The responsibility of the attendee is to be prepared for the meeting.  That would mean, be there on time ready to go when the meeting is set to start.  That would imply that the attendee would be in the right place at the right time in the right condition for the meeting.  Supplies, uniform,  gear.. whatever the case may be available and ready to go at the start time requested by the leader of the meeting.
To be early does not move the meeting time, nor does it ensure that the meeting will start on time.  Developing a habit of starting on time will.
“To be on time is to be late”… yes, that is the final part of this cute little statement.  No.. if I’m on time.. I am on time.  If I show up ready to go.
The message we teach our Scouts is to be on time.  In our Troop we start the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Scout Oath.  The Senior Patrol Leader does not say a word.  He stands in front of the Troop, raises his hand in the Scout sign, then Salutes and starts the Pledge.  The Troop in turn follows his lead.  He does this promptly at 7:30 PM.
If someone shows up late.. they are late.  No singing, no name calling or pointing of fingers.  If he missed something, he missed it.  It is up to him to get the information, figure out what he missed, and catch up.
The same goes for a Scoutmaster Conference.  We make appointments.  If the appointment is for 7:00 PM (before the meeting) the Scout is responsible for being on time.  At 7:00 PM if the Scout is not there, he will have to reschedule.  I will move on to something else.  It is not intended to be tough love or hard teaching, it is however a lesson in responsibility and they learn rather quickly.  The message is consistent.. be prepared and be on time.
So why a pet peeve?  I can not stand people that waste my time.  When the culture requires me to be early to be on time, it is telling me that I can not be trusted to be on time.  So what happens is a bunch of early people milling around with the expectation that the event will start on time.  It may be me, but I am sure that I share this experience with many of you that the event rarely starts on time.  That is all on the leader of the event. “We will just give a few minutes for everyone to get here”… NO.. I am here, lets start and let them catch up.  You just became a time thief and that is why it is a pet peeve of mine.  The start time is the start time.. that is all we need.
Be prepared and Be on time.
To be late is unacceptable, but to be early is to be early and to be on time is to be on time.
Thanks for letting me rant a bit.
Be on time.
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. Excellent post, Jerry. Haven’t really thought about it in the context of the saying, but this is one of my pet peeves as well. Our Troop went through a phase where the 7:00 – 8:30 meeting started around 7:15 or so and ended somewhere around 9:00.

    When my older son was SPL, he started a meeting promptly at 7:00, even though he was one of only 4 Scouts there. An ASM (the SM was late, as usual) asked why he was starting when not everyone was there. His response: “It’s 7:30.” The ASM replied that he would just have to repeat the announcements and was told, “No I won’t. If they are late, they can ask one of the Scouts who was on time what the missed.” Lots of grumbling by the ASM, but by the end of his term, we started on time and ended pretty much on time.

    Now, to thank you for that change. This occurred shortly after your podcast where you discussed your Troop being on that TV show (forgot the name). I was listening to the podcast while he was in the car, and he heard the comment about your SPL starting the meeting promptly and the cameraman was in the restroom. He like the point it made to people who weren’t on time and implemented that attitude. So thanks, Jerry, for being the genesis of what has become a permanent change in our Troop.


  2. At first, I was reading this and expecting to hear the praises of being early (in my defense, I also learned this sort of thinking from a stint in the Army.) I’m gratified to see something I agree with much more strongly–that “on time” is just that. Not early. Certainly not late. And at the core of it, a personal responsibility. Spot on–thank you.


    1. Thanks for the comment.. This became a pet peeve of mine when I became a Platoon Sergeant in the Army. I hated the “Hurry Up and Wait” idea. It is a failure of leadership not to be on time for both the leader and the led.
      Thanks again!


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