respect

Membership Policy thoughts

rockgoldI was asked today via email (Thanks for reaching out and wanting my opinion) to share my thoughts and opinion on the newest policy change in the BSA.  That would be the Gender Identification policy and the fact that the Boy Scouts of America now open it’s membership to everyone regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
Ok.. I am going to do my best to express my opinion on this while supporting the Boy Scouts of America and give my thoughts on the issue in general.
First let me say that I do in fact stand with the BSA on this issue and policy change.  That may or may not turn you off.. but it is what it is.
Second let me state that in my opinion this policy change or clarification of the membership requirement will not really have that big of an impact on Scouting.  As much as the “Gay” issue did not really move the needle, the gender identification allowance will have about the same impact.  That is my opinion and mine alone.
I am not opposed to the opening of the doors to everyone and think that this move, while not popular in conservative circles is a gateway to opening our membership up to being COED in all programs of Scouting.  Again, I have no insight, just thoughts.  I am not opposed to a COED program either.
Having said all of that, we will have to learn and be proactive in how we deliver the program.  Logistics issues will be affected for sure, but the leaders of our organization are going to have to put together reasonable measures to maintain the program while integrating the COED aspect.
We do not have to rediscover the wheel here, we are one of less than a handful of Countries that are not COED, so we can learn from our brothers and sisters in Scouting across the globe.
The Boy Scouts of America has always kept up with or got in front of social issues.  The organization can not and will not survive by living in the past.
The Moral dilemma.  Scouting’s hallmark is found in the Oath and Law.  It is where we establish our code of conduct and our shared values.  Morality in its essence comes down to the difference between right and wrong.  That is pretty clear.  It has nothing to do with religion or faith.  Right and Wrong.
I tend to live in the world or reality.  Reality dictates that we accept things on realities terms.  The reality of the Scout Oath and Law is simply that we live by the Golden Rule, again, not necessarily a religious concept as everyone can understand and live by the simple idea of treating others as we would like to be treated.
So now we have to decide if that applies to everyone or just the people that are like you.. or us.
I am a conservative guy.. but the more I think about the way we treat people, the more I understand the golden rule.  I think that is an important part of “Help other people at all times” too.
Now lets talk about science.  There are male and female members of our species.  Black, white, or what ever, nature has maintained that in order for us to survive as a species we need men and women.  X and Y chromosomes decide whether or not we are male or female.  The discussion of what we “identify” as is a discussion I do not understand.  Identification is a mental thing not a physical or scientific issue.  We are what we are.  If you are born a male, you are a male etc.  How you feel about that is not a gender issue in my opinion.  I feel like a millionaire until I check the bank statement and reality sets in.
I can identify as old man, and some days I feel that way, but then I look at my drivers licence and it says that I am only 51.  Again, I do not wish ill or will not treat anyone bad because of their feelings, I just do not understand it.
The issue as it applies to Scouting is simple to me.  Boys are boys and girls are girls and that is how they will be treated.  We will have to learn how to accommodate the arrangements, but we treat it like we treat things now.  With respect and keeping the individual safe.  If we have a young man that “identifies” as a young girl, then we use the Patrol method and make sure the Scout has a great experience.  Showers will have to be arranged as well as restroom accommodations.  Most camps are single seaters anyway.. but we will have to be sensitive to the needs of the Scout.  Just like we do now.
I do not think that Biology changes with feelings.. but that is my opinion.. and I guess the opinion of science.
But we are talking about the person.  The person has feelings and as long as they agree to live within the values of the Scout Oath and Law.. I do not have a problem with it.
That goes for everything.
I care less about how you feel and more about how you act.  That is a good moral position to be in I think.
Some may argue that this is a moral issue.  I would argue that it is how we treat people and that is the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
I think that this policy change or clarification of the membership policy is in keeping with the tradition and spirit of Scouting.
We do not discriminate based on well… anything… as long as they agree to live the Scout Oath and Law.
To me it is that simple.
If you want to learn more about the membership policy.. check it out at the BSA site.
I thank you all for allowing me to express my opinion.  I know that there are going to be some.. maybe many that disagree, and that is ok with me.  We can still be friends.
I wonder what the discussion was like when the BSA opened it’s doors to African American boys?  Think it may have gone like today’s policy changes.
Like we teach in Wood Badge.. Change is constant and Change is inevitable.  Change is going to happen no matter how much you dislike it.  As long as we move into the future with the goal of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law then we will survive.
Thanks again.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

A Scout is Trustworthy

leadership-skills
It is bad form to define a term or word by using the word or term.  When we ask a Scout what is meant by being Trustworthy it is almost a cop out for the Scout to answer “One that is worthy of Trust” or some one worthy of being Trusted.
Merriam-Webster defines Trustworthy as worthy of confidence : dependable.  Words that describe the actions or attitudes of someone deemed to be Trustworthy.
Reliable, Dependable, Honest, Deserving of Trust are a few more words that I think of when we talk about being Trustworthy.
For me it all comes down to actions.  Those tangible things that we can see and feel or read and process in our minds that lead us to put our Trust in someone or an organization.
We had an interesting discussion a few days ago with a Scout.  The discussion led to Character and how we judge the character of a person or group, in particular the discussion was about the Media.
How do we know what we can trust?  The Scout asked me.  What is credible and honest in today’s media?  How do we define in today’s media what is true or as they now say “Fake News”.  This young man explained that they were having this discussion in School that day and felt as though the teacher obviously had a certain bias for one side of the media.
Again, I led the conversation to what we believe character looks like.  What is the expectation of a Scout in our community.  Does he tell the truth?  Does he demonstrate leadership?  Does the Scout stay out of trouble?  When he makes a commitment does he follow through and complete the task?  Does he treat others with respect and dignity?
I am sure that we can go on and on.. the bottom line is simply this, are we dependable, worthy of peoples confidence, honest and deserving of trust.
So how do apply that standard to the media or society in general.  It appears that it depends on how you define character.  One side is “Fair and Balanced” while the other side is “First and Accurate”.  So who is right?
What is “Fake News”?  What are “alternate facts”.  The issue has become so clouded that we are getting to a point where we are hard pressed to accurately determine who is being Trustworthy.
This is a great lesson for our Scouts.  No matter which side of the spectrum you find yourself politically or socially.. The fact that no matter what you claim to believe the one thing that we can agree on is that the media is perceived as suspect.  In the discussion of Trust and Trustworthiness, we can agree that it is hard to believe either side because they are creating doubt in their character.  Both side make the argument that “They are right”, but we all know that the truth must be somewhere in the middle.  Gone is the idea of a clear “right and wrong” when it comes to some social issues and media influence.
I am not sure what the fix is, but I do know that when I discuss this with Scouts it is a great case study in what we look for in defining “Trustworthy”.
A Scout is Trustworthy.. so yeah… Worthy of Trust.  We must do everything not to take that away from how people view us as Scouts.
I am curious to know what you think.
Leave us a comment.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

What Pleases Jerry

IMG_6206It 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.
and finally…
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!

Delivering the scolding… or promise?

BP“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.
Why?
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.
If only.
I had a great weekend with the Scouts of our Troop.  It’s why we keep playing this game.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Firm Bound in Brotherhood…

Telling the Scouting StoryThis weekend was spent rekindling the fire of the Order of the Arrow in me.  I attended our Lodges annual gathering called Rendezvous.  Our Lodge hosts three major events each year.  The Native American Arts and Ceremonies Seminar, The Rendezvous of the Order, and The Leadership Development Conference.  We also participate in the Section Conclave and many service projects throughout the year as well and four Ordeal weekends and a Vigil Induction annually.  So, needless to say we have an active Lodge with ample opportunities to be an active member of the Order of the Arrow.
This weekend, I have to be honest, I was not entirely looking forward to.  I did not attend last years Rendezvous because I am finding it harder and harder to tolerate some of the behavior that we have seen at some, not all, OA events.  I suppose that I have an expectation that “honor society” means something and clearly that is not the case to some Scouts and their leaders.
Being elected into the Order of the Arrow is supposed to have some special meaning.  Our Lodge Advisor said it best last night at the Banquet dinner when he summed up membership in the Order of the Arrow as a Journey, much like the journey Dorthy took in the Wizard of Oz.  They (the principle parts of the the Wizard of Oz) sought a Brain, Courage and a Heart.  We too in the Order of the Arrow seek Wisdom in the Scout Oath and Law, We strive to be Courageous in doing the right thing, and a Heart for service.  And Dorthy.. she is the model of a Servant Leader, putting the other three needs above her own desire to go home.  It is a Journey to constantly seek the path that leads us to be bound in that brotherhood that cheerfully serves.
And here is the problem I have been having and I guess this is a universal issue within me that expects more out of those that we trust are “worthy”.  Whether that is a Scout that has earned his Eagle Award or a Scout that has been elected into the Order of the Arrow.  I expect them to live that code that we promise.  In addition to the Scout Oath and Law, the Obligation of the Order of the Arrow are tremendous guides for our lives.  It is that yellow brick road that leads us to a life that is worthy of being called good.
I understand the need for membership and so I understand that there will be Scouts that will take time to mature into young men that we can trust to live the obligation.  I get that.  But where is the coaching and mentoring that get them on the path to doing right?  This is my issue.  When I see Scouts that are disrespectful, unkind, selfish, and run from service, I wonder how and why they are members of the OA.  Or better yet, who is teaching them or not teaching them the expected behaviors that come with being a Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow.
This weekend I attended for a few reasons.  First I was asked to do some service.  We cleaned out and sorted, repacked and labeled the bins in the Wood Badge trailer.  Since I was the last Assistant Scoutmaster for support and physical arrangements I had a great interest in helping out those future staffers, making their jobs a bit easier.  Second, I was asked to attend the Banquet Saturday night as I was “officially” being called to the Vigil Honor along with the rest of this years Vigil Candidates.  I’ll get right back to that.
The third reason was that we are trying to get the OA members of our Troop fired up again about the OA and rekindle their fire in ceremonies.  So I talked it up to the members in my Troop and a group of them decided to attend.  Being a good example, I knew that I needed to be there also to demonstrate that I care about the OA and their membership in it.
And finally, I knew that a bunch of my Scouter friends from around the Council would be there and to be honest, I wanted to hang out with them.  It’s always a great time sharing stories and catching up.
Back to number two.  The Vigil Call out.
Throughout the day on Saturday many of my friends and other members of the Lodge approached me with congratulations on being elected to the Vigil Honor.  Folks that I have not seen in ages and some that at other times have never given me the time of day, but the thing that mattered was their genuine attitude about what the Vigil Honor means to them.  They all shared a little something about what the honor has meant in their lives, not sharing anything about the induction, but what that simple little triangle of arrows on their sash has meant as they apply living what I gathered as the gifts they received from membership in this organization.  I kept thinking last night about this trip down the yellow brick road and that, even though I don’t know what is to come in the Vigil induction, I feel like it is that point in the journey when you finally meet the great and powerful Oz and much is reveled .  This journey from Ordeal member to Brotherhood has taken me on a trip to find the arrow.  That spirit of Cheerful service and living the Oath and Law fully in our daily lives… above and beyond that of just being a Scout.  To truly understand being selfless and applying that attitude every day.  One does not need the Order of the Arrow for this, but in the context of Scouting is a great life lesson that when demonstrated by those that have been selected to the highest Honor brings great credit to Scouting, this organization that we believe in and love.
I was looking through some of my collection of Scouting literature and found a small booklet that was distributed back in 1968 to new members of the Order of the Arrow.  It is a basic run down of what the OA is, gives the Legend of the Lenni Lenape and discusses the membership Honors of the Order.  There is a sentence in the paragraph about the Vigil Honor that I feel sums up my attitude about those Scouts that fail to live up to the expectation of membership.  The converse I suppose can be found in this statement, “…members of our Order who give outstanding or distinguished service, or who by unusual devotion to Scouting…”  Unusual devotion to Scouting, maybe that is why I don’t get some of the behavior or attitudes.  I have an unusual devotion to Scouting.  Yep… I love Scouting that is a fact and I constantly try to tell Scouting’s Story.  The Vigil Honor is calling me to do just that… I think.
I’m going to go with that for now anyway.
I am firm bound in Brotherhood.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Star, Life, and Eagle- Service

SLEbadgesOnce a Scout has completed all of the requirements and has achieved the rank of First Class, he can be expected to know all of those skills that make a good Scout.  Camping, First Aid, Citizenship, and living the Scout Oath and Law.  And so as the Scout continues his growth to becoming and Eagle Scout, the ranks of Star, Life, and ultimately Eagle require of the Scout to develop leadership and service and in doing so complete the continuum of become an Eagle Scout.
Summed up as being a Servant Leader.
Aside from earning those few merit badges that assist in the growth of the Scout, the young man should focus on that which is required but mainly on being a servant leader.  A merit badge sash filled from top to bottom means less than being a good leader.  A leader that is willing to serve.
Last night after our Troop meeting, I sat with a young man for a Scoutmaster conference for the rank of Star.  Consequently, this young man also became a Troop Guide for the new Scout patrol last night and began his skills instruction by assisting in their meal planning for the up coming camping trip.
During our discussion, which focused on future plans and leadership I shared with him the proven principle of Servant Leadership and the fact that if a Leader is not willing to first be the servant, the leader will never be able to lead effectively.
What is the purpose of leadership?  To get somewhere with a group.  To realize a vision.  To complete a task or mission, achieve a goal.  And to build up those that follow you making them leaders.
There are many ways and examples that we could debate, discuss, and define when it comes to leadership, and certainly every leader has his own style or method of leading.  But the constant is service.  All good and effective leaders understand that they are serving.  So it all starts with learning to serve.
This young man who became a Troop Guide is going to learn how to serve and I would argue that as of last night, he embarked on a learning journey that will make him a great leader.  His role in our Troop right now is more significant in its service than perhaps any other and as we discussed will have a greater impact long-term.  And so it goes with every servant leadership opportunity.  He has all of the skills and the right attitude, now it is time to build that in others and serve them on the way to meeting their goals.
The Senior Patrol leader is in the same boat in that he is serving the Troop.  He understands the vision of the Troop and maintains his focus on meeting the goals of the Troop while building up the rest of the Scouts, the Patrol leaders in particular.
In talking with our newest Eagle Scout on Sunday, I asked him if he could define his Scouting experience.  Was it the 34 merit badges he earned?  The interpreter strip?  The nights of camping, climbing, and canoeing?  No he said, it was becoming a leader and knowing how to lead by knowing that everyone has value.  He became a servant leader.
One Scout, our newest Eagle taking his leadership development into the real world, and another Scout, our newest Troop Guide stepping into the great unknown with a willingness to learn and a spirit of being a servant first.
I think that when we boil all of this down to its parts, the thing that always bubbles to the top are good leaders.  And right behind them are those that follow, that will one day be leaders also.
We want our leaders to model expected behaviors.  They never stop hearing that.  We adult leaders model servant leadership every day.  That is the way we will grow and develop great young leaders.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Balance

swimming holeYesterday I was listening to some talk radio and over the course of the day the recurring theme of child raising came up.  I heard a fantastic quote on one of the programs that I thought needed to be shared here.
“We are not raising our children to be good children, we are raising them to be good adults.”
Yes, we are.  I think that much too often we focus on keeping our kids children and not looking to the future and what kind of adults they are going to be.
There is a balance there.  A balance between keeping our kids in a safety bubble and letting them run wild.  Finding the middle ground and ensuring we teach them the right skills to negotiate life is where we will develop them to be those good adults that we wish them to be.
It is for this reason that we focus on Citizenship, Character, and Fitness in Scouting and not cranking out Eagle Scouts.  While there are certain rewards for earning the rank of Eagle Scout is far more important that we see in our Scouts that development of Character.  An Eagle Scout without Character does himself and Scouting a disservice.
I am not sure when things went wrong and I certainly do not want to sound like those folks did when we were growing up, you know… walking to School in the snow up hill.. both ways…  Life was not rough when I grew up, and life is no rougher now.  The difference was in our parents then I think.  We stayed out till the street lights came on, we played outside all the time, bumps and bruises were part of life.  Now we did have a lot less distractions then.   We did not have 700 channels on TV, there was no such thing as the internet or cell phones, and once you mastered Pong on the Atari it was time to get back outside.
Our parents may have worried about us, but knew that we would be home when it was time to come home, or when we got hungry.. which ever came first.
I think our parents understood balance.  They understood that we needed to have quiet time and we needed to have loud time.  We did not sit in time out… we got spanked and it was over.  We learned lessons and moved on.
Fighting and making up was a part of being friends.  No drama, just growing up.
Our bikes were made of parts and I don’t think you could find two of the same color.  We made tree forts and fell out of them more times than I can count.  But my mom did not put me in a bubble and make every bad thing in the world disappear.
Balance.  We can place our sons in a bubble and protect them, or we can let them learn about the world by living in it.  I prefer living, knowing boundaries, and getting out there in life’s great adventure.  That is how we raised our kids and they all turned out to be good adults.
We are not raising children to be children, we have enough adults in the world that act that way.  This is why we have adults in the world that still wait for a hand out.  That is why we have adults that are immature and live for the drama of a teenager.  Just look at Facebook at what adults do on it.
We need to raise our young men to be men.
Finding a good balance and watching them develop.
Thoughts?
Have a Great Scouting Day!