Scouts that join our units begin their walk on the Eagle Trail through our program forest. This forest of Scouting has much to offer the passer-by. When you enter the forest the trail is clearly marked and a guide is provided. This guide keeps the new Scout on the right trail while he learns about the forest and the skills that he will need to navigate the trail through to his destination. The trail is long and provides many opportunities for the Scout. There is a fork in the trail called First Class. Once the Scout reaches this point in the forest, the trial gets a little less clear. There are still markers along the way, but the Scout is challenged to seek the path and maybe do some bushwhacking.
The trail through the forest at times will seem to be very narrow and at times the forest opens up into meadows and the trail needs to be tried and new routes found. A Scout needs to remember that the forest is full of trees. Those trees represent the opportunities of Scouting. Every four years a Scout will find a huge tree called Jamboree. He can choose to visit that tree and learn about its opportunity. He will also chance upon trees called NOAC (National Order of the Arrow Conference), he will have the opportunity to visit four trees called the National High Adventure Bases. A trip to the Philmont, the Summit, Sea Base or Northern Tier tree will prove to be a high light of his Scouting walk through the forest. There are merit badge trees and places along the trail to practice leadership and service. The trails always need maintenance. There are trees along the trail that the Scout will find other Scouts that need help finding the way. He will make the choice to lead them until they can do the same for other Scouts they meet.
There is a big lodge near the edge of the forest. This is where the Eagle Scouts hang out. They are still close to the forest so they can hear the call of Scouting and spend time back on the trail.
The forest of Scouting is full of great opportunity, fun, and adventure. But the opportunity, fun and adventure only comes to those Scouts that see the forest instead of the trees. The trees are the things that we bump into as we travel through the forest, but they are not the reason we go through Scouting. Finding the trees in the forest are the things that we do as we move forward in Scouting seeking the opportunities and fun that come with the program. The name of the trail is called Scout Oath trail. Along that trail we learn our laws and rules. We develop a habit of service, and we become a person that has Character. The trail is hard at times and forces us to stay physically and mentally strong. The trail is long and full of adventure, but we need to keep the forest the most important thing and let the trees appear. The Forest is the Scouting Aims and along the way you will bump into those trees that keep you moving in the right direction.
Loosing focus on the Forest and jumping right to the trees will eventually cause the Scout to turn around and leave the forest. He will hit all the trees that he wants but will miss the whole trail through the forest. The trees that are deeper into the forest are bigger and better, but the Scout that enters the trees and not the forest will miss out on them.
I have seen Scouts that have walked into the forest only to find a small stand of trees. They provided lots of merit badges and rank, but never any of the exciting opportunities that lay ahead on the trail. I also have seen Scouts that have immersed themselves into the whole trail. They have seen the big trees, participated in the great adventures and when he reached Eagle Lodge looked back at a great time in Scouting.
As you mentor young men in Scouting and as you introduce young men as they join your troop, show them the trail head into the forest and remind them to see forest rather than the trees. The trees will appear as you follow the trail.
It is interesting to hear what our Scouts think and say. At most of their ages, they have not yet learned to filter their conversations based on who they are around or what the circumstances may be. On the way to our last camp out a younger Scout asked an older Scout what they had to do at the camp out. The response from the older Scout was this, “What ever pleases Jerry.”
Now I know this young man and I know that he was being sarcastic to a point, and on the other hand, I know that his comment was directed at the fact that I hold the older Scouts to a higher standard and ask them to demonstrate leadership. This Scout would much rather sit around and do nothing in most cases… and by and large, that is exactly what he and his buddy did during the last camp out.
What this and other Scouts fail to realize is that his response to the younger Scout is actually 100% accurate. “Whatever pleases Jerry” is actually the right answer.
So what pleases Jerry?
1. When the Scouts have fun.
2. When the Scouts learn.
3. When the Scouts demonstrate leadership.
4. When the Scouts seek and find adventure.
5. When the Scouts develop the bonds of a high performance team.
6. When the Scouts have a sense of accomplishment.
7. When the Scouts get the opportunity to see and do something new.
8. When the Scouts practice leadership and find success in their skills.
9. When the Scouts learn that winning is better than losing in life.
10. When a Scout looks back on Scouting, smiles, and knows it was worth his time.
That is what pleases Jerry.
So Mr. Older Scout… you nailed it! And guess what. The Scout you told that to lived up to that expectation.
Thank You! Have a Great Scouting Day!
“The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.”
“The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of another brother.”
“The spirit is there in every boy; it has to be discovered and brought to light.”
“There is no teaching to compare with example.”
“To get a hold on boys you must be their friend.”
I know that it is bad form to start with a list of quotes, but all of these quotes are from the founder of Scouting, Baden-Powell. They come to mind when I look back on this weekend and some of the things that I saw at our District Camporee.
The question is Why? Why do some Scoutmasters feel the need to make Scouting a chore? Why do they insist on not making it fun for the Scouts? Why is there is a reason to yell or belittle a Scout? Why?
I wish I could say that this is an isolated case and I am talking about one Scout Leader. But I am not.
Here is the problem as I see it. These leaders have no idea what Scouting is supposed to look like. One particular Scoutmaster explained to me that what the Scouts lack is discipline and it was his job to make sure they are disciplined. You see, I feel that is the parents job.
The same Scoutmaster yelled at his troop over a bent tent-peg.
Another leader explained to me that Scouting is supposed to make our boys gentlemen and respectful. I asked if her example was helping as she screamed at a Scout for playing with his patrol mates.
Yet another Scout leader had a group of Scouts at attention as they were dressed up and down about not doing well in their uniform inspection. The leader’s shirt was un-tucked and looked like he slept in it and instead of a Scout hat or Troop hat, he was wearing a hunting hat as he ripped a Scout a new one over not wearing his Troop hat.
And we wonder why Scouts leave. I even talked with a Scout who would love to leave his Troop, but can’t because his Dad is one of the leaders. Really?
This weekends Camporee was fun. It was one of the better camporees we have had in a while, so why do the adult have to screw it up for the boys.
Again, they clearly do not understand what Scouting is all about.
We are not the Army. We are not a boarding school for wayward boys. This is Scouting and above all, the boys need to have fun. It is that game with a purpose that will teach them the skills to deal with life’s challenges and develop those life long values that will guide them to be disciplined and self-reliant.
How can a boy discover that light when the adults around him are constantly looking to snuff it? How can a boy learn to play the game, when the rules change or are unclear? How friendly is the constant brow beating?
I think that some leaders need to take a look in the mirror and find out if they are delivering the promise of Scouting or just a good scolding.
The best part of the discussion I had with our Anti Powell was when he pointed to my Troop, at the time they were all playing Frisbee in a field between the camp sites. Loud laughter and complete grab ass was in full effect. He pointed out that camporee was not about playing.. it was about competition. I explained that there is certainly a time and a place for everything. He said, “Look at your camp site… no matching tents, no patrol boxes, no discipline.” I explained that we are a backpacking troop and do not have patrol boxes or matching tents, and so far as discipline, we have plenty of that. It comes with living the Scout oath and law. Then in a moment of arrogance, I pointed out that what he was looking at was the Troop of the Year and we are doing it right. With that, I bid him a good day and joined the boys in the game of Ultimate Frisbee.
Camporee was a fun time and a great experience for our Troop. They all had fun and competed well. It is unfortunate that there are leaders out there that just don’t get it. If only they took the time and put in the effort to delivering the promise of Scouting, using the same energy they put into yelling, berating, and making life hard for their Scouts, they would have great Troops. The boys are there and willing, they need good adults to have the heart of a Boy and do Scouting the way the founder wanted it to be.
I had a great weekend with the Scouts of our Troop. It’s why we keep playing this game. Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other night I had the pleasure of sitting in as an advocate for a Scout in my Troop at his Eagle Board of Review.
I enjoy the position that the Scoutmaster is placed in as the advocate, physically the Scoutmaster sits behind and out of the view of the Scout and mentally, it is a great place to learn from the Scout to know that you are truly delivering the promise of Scouting.
The first question the board asked this young man was if he had ever looked at the back of his Scout Handbook. On the back cover are the Aims of Scouting. The Scout replied that he had not looked at the back. The board asked him to pick up his book and read it. Then asked if he was aware that these were the aims or goals of Scouting. He said that he did know that. How did you know that they wanted to know. My Scoutmaster does not stop talking about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness the Scout said in a matter of fact. They chuckled a bit and then asked what he thought about those three words and how much they meant to Scouting. His answer knocked me out of my chair. He looked at the board and said “Those three words mean more to me than this award. They mean that I am a good man and that I will always be a good man.”
From that point on I knew that this board was going to be interesting. And it was. He had an opinion when they asked for one, he talked about the great times that he had in Scouting and he shared what he had learned about being a leader.
As I sat behind him I felt deep pride in this young man and listened as he confirmed that we really are providing a program that the boys get.
To close the board, they asked about the Scout Oath and Law. He shared his feelings, understanding, and practice of living the Oath and Law daily. Not without challenge and difficulty but the bottom line was that he is that person every day.
This got me to thinking about comments I have heard from Scouts and Scouts all over. It reminded me of an on going discussion that we have about being a Scout and living Scout like all of the time, the fact that we only have One Life.
We are what our Facebook Status says we are. We are what our Twitter account looks like. We are where we hang out and the people that we associate with. We are what we say and what we do. That defines our Character.
You are not just a Christian on Sunday, you not just a Scout on Monday nights, you are not just a Dad when the kids are around, you are not just a Scoutmaster when you wear the hat.
There is no separation. There can’t be, that goes against the principle of Character. Choose to accept that or not but your Character will be your guide and that is when you will have to face the reality of who and what you are.
I stress character all the time in our Troop, in fact I care more about character than anything else in Scouting. I don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle if he has not got the point about character, citizenship, and being mentally and physically fit. If he did not get it, he just got another patch and the award will be meaningless.
We hold the Eagle award up on that lofty space for that reason, we all do it. Every one respects and admire those that have earned this award and rightly so…if they got it. If they make that choice to have one life and that is the life of Character.
I was asked by a Scout why I will not friend him on Facebook. I make it a practice not to friend Scouts or any minor that is not family on Facebook. It is not because of what I might put on the internet… it’s that I don’t want to be placed in a position to know what they are putting on the internet. I would rather have them make good choices and discuss it during conferences. Facebook is not where I want to build my discussion bullets for the next time I see the Scout.
You have but one life. You do not get to split out your internet life and your real life. You have the ability to maintain good character. Once you decide to part ways with it, it can not come back. Once the bell is rung, you can not un-ring it.
Think before you act, pause before you hit enter, read before you press send. Character matters. “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.” ― Abraham Lincoln Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is always a great idea to take time a do some reflection. I do not want to get to deep here, but reflection is a big part of learning and getting better.
We do reflections after Scouting activities, games, events, and circumstances that put us in a position in which decisions are made and out comes may be different.
Sunday I had the pleasure of presenting a class at the current Wood Badge Course. When I walked in I was greeted by my Wood Badge friends and of course we all shared a laugh and a story or two.
Before I left, my good friend Steve handed me a piece of paper. On it was a couple reflections that they used the previous night after the “Game of Life” was played. Now for those of you that have been to Wood Badge, you know what I am talking about, for those of you that have not yet gone… well I will not spoil it for you other than to maybe give you a nice thought to remember as you go through your daily “Game of Life”.
It is from an anonymous source so I have no idea where it originated, but it works. In life we do things. Some we wish we had never done. Some we wish we could replay a million times over in our heads, but they all make us who we are, and in the end they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them we wouldn’t be the person we are. So just live, make mistakes, have wonderful memories, but never ever second guess who you are or where you have been.. And most importantly where it is you are going.
I would only add that Character will be your underlying guide. With Character you never need to second guess.
This is why we teach and hold dear our Scout Oath and Law.
Just a little reflection. Have a Great Scouting Day!
We often talk about having all of our adult leaders trained. When we speak of training we are talking about the basics. Has the adult completed Youth Protection? Attended their Basic Course for the specific position? And according to the Boy Scouts of America, that’s pretty much a trained leader.
You are qualified to be an adult that delivers the promise of Scouting. Really.
Ok, now… everyone just take off your Scouting hat and put on your parent hat. Now you know nothing about Scouting except that your son wants to be a Scout. You know that Scouting is a great organization that reinforced those character traits that you are teaching at home and he and his friends enjoy going camping once a month. But who is this “Trained” leader? What qualifies him to take your son out into the woods?
A couple videos? An online training session and a “suitable for framing” print out certificate?
Oh, but maybe the leader has been to Wood Badge. So he knows the Boy Scout Program and is able to teach and reach his goals. He communicates well, but what of the skills he needs to take my kid into the woods.
My point here is this. In a world in which we bubble wrap our kids. We don’t let them stay out after dark, they can’t climb trees, drink from a garden hose, or in some cases even push a lawn mower.. we drop off our sons to people we don’t really know, they hop into their trucks and vans and drive away for a weekend in the woods.
Say that out loud and it is a bit creepy.
We trust that they know what they are doing with our kids. We hope to see smiles on their faces and that they are in one piece when they arrive back at the meeting hall.
Trust. That is what we have in our leaders. But it’s 2014 so what has he done to be trusted. What skills does he have to gain my trust. Who is this guy taking my kid into the woods?
I am a big fan of Boy Scout Training and take it a step further. I am on our district training team and teach the Scoutmaster basic course. I am a Wood Badge staffer and love to teach leadership.
So knowing what I know, I know that the Boy Scout minimum training is not enough to build that trust. But the leader that goes the extra mile and gets more training, now that’s the guy I want.
Not to toot my horn, or the horns our leaders in my Troop, but we respect that trust and that is why we all go the extra mile.
In our Troop, all the Assistant Scoutmasters are Wood Badge trained.
We have Certified Climbing instructors.
We have Certified Wilderness First Aid First Responders.
We have Wilderness First aid trained leaders.
White water rafting guides
Leave No Trace master trainers
Cold Weather camping experts
Everyone is CPR/AED trained
Everyone has done the supplemental training for Trek Safe, Safe Swim defense, Safety Afloat, and Climb Safely.
I know that I am missing something, the point is that we go out of our way to be over trained.
This is where the trust of the parents is gained and maintained.
It is an important part of protecting our youth and delivering the very best program to them.
So who is your Scout leader? Do you trust him or her with your son in the woods? Have a Great Scouting Day!
I can not remember where or who I heard this from, but I recalled a quote the other day that I thought was a good way of illustrating our job as Scout leaders and parents.
“We are not building roads for our children, we are building children for the roads.”
Essentially it is saying that we can lay out everything to make life easy for our kids or we can prepared them for the road of life, which we all know is not easy.
When I thought about this quote, it got me to thinking about some of the ways we discuss our Scouting programs. As you all know I am a fan of traditional Scouting and doing things the right way. I am not a fan of giving everyone a trophy and I know that not every Scout will be an Eagle Scout… nor should they be. If they have been properly trained in their young lives to work hard, then they will reap the rewards of hard work.
The road of life is difficult and only made easier by getting on it and traveling. Know that it is hard, but stay the course. The beauty of the road is that you get to pick your destination. You can pick the path of least resistance and when you get there you will find that it took you to a place a fewer rewards. You can get on the highway of success and its direction will lead you to the world of Success. But you need to know that there will be detours and pot holes, but if you negotiate them, you will be successful.
So as Scout leaders and parents we need to encourage our children to take that road and prepare them for the detours and pot holes. We do not need to drive them there with the knowledge of the location of the pot holes and hardships. You can build the road, nice and smooth. Pave it with gold and make it a fast lane for your child, but he will not get the most out of it and will fail to learn lessons along the way.
On the other hand, we can train him up to set a course, know how to go around a detour and take it slow on a pot hole filled road. He will learn and develop and by the time he gets where he is going he will be a man who you will be proud of.
Last night at Round table I had a little chat with a Scouter about Eagle Scouts. He made the comment that every Scout should be an Eagle Scout and that the sooner they get it, the better.
Again, I thought about the road. Did we build the road for the Scout or did we build the Scout for the road. I don’t know the answer in his particular case, but how many Eagle Scouts have we seen that are not prepared for the road. I personally can tell you that I have seen many. While I am proud of their accomplishment, I wonder if we as Scouters are not quick to reward and less enthusiastic to take the time and build that young man.
The road of life is a tough one. We owe it to our children and our Scouts to build them ready for the road of life. Have a Great Scouting Day!