Once a Scout meets the requirements for First Class the focus changes from basic skills development to discovering all that Scouting has to offer, service, and leadership.
The Scout will discover Scouting through the merit badge program, high adventure bases, Jamboree’s and being an active member of his Troop. Often times his participation in high adventure increases once he has developed the skills and is a little more mature and taking on greater responsibilities in the unit.
But it is in leadership that the Scout starts to separate himself from the pack. When a Scout sits with me for his First Class and Star conferences I explain to him that it is important to begin that separation from the crowd. I am not suggesting that they leave, I am encouraging them to stand out.
Only 4 percent of all Scouts that stay in our program will earn the Eagle award. Only 4%. So it is important for a Scout that wants to earn his Eagle award to stand out from the other 96%. There is a difference in those young men. Not everyone is supposed to get their Eagle. It takes dedication and effort and a willingness to serve and lead. The Scout that does not separate will not stand out in leadership and service. They need not go above and beyond.. they only need to meet the standard, but the standard [when kept] is high… by design.
While I want all of my Scouts to achieve the rank of Eagle, I find it more important that they have a well rounded Scouting experience. I want to them to demonstrate sound leadership and develop the heart of a servant. In the world in which we find ourselves.. that is a stand out person. We can teach the value of merit and working for what you get. We can reverse the cycle of “participation trophies” and meaningless activity. The Scout that learns about the value of setting goals, working hard, and making a choice to be better than average is a young man that is separating himself from his peers to be a better man.
Creating separation is an important part of achieving goals and being a better man. It is easy to go with the flow and maintain mediocrity. It is another thing to actually do your very best and make a choice to make a difference.
Encourage your Scouts to stand out.. separate from the pack.. be better.
Thanks for hanging out on the blog.. let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Once a Scout meets the requirements for First Class the focus changes from basic skills development to discovering all that Scouting has to offer, service, and leadership.
A Scout Troop is a family.. and it’s either living or dying. It’s either growing or shrinking, viable or withering on the vine. There are many reasons for this, but the point of the matter is that if we are not watching for it we will let units fail. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint one thing or another, but the more you focus the clearer the issues become and the faster a unit can recover when it finds itself dying.
I find that a close examination of the how the unit is using the methods is a great start. Oh and by the way, this is important for units that are living and living well too. You may just find that you are slipping in an area that down the road can lead to a cancer that can not be cured in the unit.
Is the unit using all eight of the methods or just picking and choosing which ones are important to them? I liken that practice to picking and choosing which of the values in the Scout Law are less important and need not apply.
A strong program relies on the methods to achieve the goals of Scouting. Too many units favor advancement over other methods. I have seen those units race their Scouts to Eagle and then die.. they lost the older Scouts and leadership. The families disengage once their son “Eagles Out” [a term that does not have any place in Scouting]. There is no longer a dog in the hunt for the family and the Scout feels as though he has reached the end. NO NO… he has just begun. Now it’s time to give back and be a leader. But with the emphasis on advancement, the Scout and his family see no other needs that the unit can provide.
Some Troops believe that the Patrol Method is all you need. While I agree that the Patrol method is everything to the Patrol and health of the Troop, it is certainly not all you need. Where do you practice the Patrol method? At Troop meetings? Sure, some, but its the Outdoor program that makes the Patrol method come alive.. so no the Patrol method is not all you need. How do you put into practice the Ideals of Scouts, you know those ideals and values found in the Scout Oath and Law? You need a well planned and executed Service program in the life of the Troop. Service opportunities that engage the Scout and teach him to be a selfless servant to others. This is a wonderful leadership trait as well. Being a servant leader will certainly get the young man farther and reinforce the ideals of Scouting.
I once heard a quote, and I want to say it came from Baden Powell, “Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I’ll show you a poorly uniformed leader.” The uniform is an important part of Scouting. I have talked about this before so I won’t beat that horse to death, but the uniform is an essential part of Scouting. It builds the team. It helps with discipline. It is a great equalizer. The uniform connects us in the World Brotherhood of Scouting and is the most visible part of the Scout in public. It should be worn completely and correctly. Many adult leaders make a choice to allow jeans and other parts of the uniform to be exchanged. They claim that it is a money issue. It isn’t. A Scout is thrifty. He can always go mow a lawn, rake some leaves, or even sell popcorn to buy a new uniform or pants for it. Taking the easy way out on the uniform reflects the attitude of the leader to not use the methods of Scouting completely. “Attitude reflects leadership” so says my favorite quote from the movie Remember the Titans. This attitude of pick and choose can do more harm than good in the long run and it has been my observation that it can ultimately lead to a unit dying.
And no.. it’s not about the uniform. It’s about the methods. Those tried and true methods that lead our youth to a better understanding of who they are and what they will become. It teaches Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. And that my friends is why do Scouting. We believe this works and that is proven daily, weekly, monthly in units all across our country. It is proven in the Eagle Scouts that go on to do great things in their lives and in the Scouts that go into the world and become Dads that raise wonderful people. Scouting works, but we need to keep it alive. Using the eight methods will keep it from dying.
The methods need to be visible in your annual plan, in your interactions with the Scout, and in your attitude. That will reflect great leadership.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Here is the Scoutmaster Minute that I gave to our Troop the other night… Hope you find it useful.
As you travel on the trail to First Class Scout you find that there are many skills that you develop. You learn them and eventually master them well enough to use them in your daily lives, while on camp outs and even teach them to other people.
Learning to use the Map and Compass is one such skill that takes practice and hands on use. Once you master the use of the Map and Compass you will always know the direction you heading and will be able to find your way.
The Map shows you the terrain. It lets you know where you are and where you are going. It’s colors represent what is on the ground around you and the obstacles that you will face. As you read the map, you see the hills and valleys that you will be trekking on. It shows you where you can find water and other resources. The map can tell you where the trail is easy or hard or give you options for a detour. Using you map, you always know where you are and a clear path to where you want to go.
The Compass is the other tool that when used with your map gives you clear direction. Knowing how to use the compass properly will allow you to set your course in the right direction. It orients your map and gives you an accurate picture of what is ahead. Without the compass, the map is just a picture of the section of earth you are traveling on. Add the compass and you have accurate and steady direction. The compass is always true. It can set you on the path that will get you to your destination.
These two tools are important in your life. Yes, we have GPS now and that is very helpful, but the GPS will never replace a good map and compass.
We have another map and compass that get us headed in the right direction and keep us on track to our destination. The Scout Oath and Law.
The Oath is our map. It gives us a clear picture of the person that we should be. It has features much like the map. Duty, Honor, and being Selfless are some of the marks we see in Oath. If we use it, we will know the landscape of our lives and will be able to stay the course.
The Scout Law is our compass. It is the steady set of values, unchanging, that when used with the Scout Oath will be our guide on the trail of life.
The Law points you in the direction of our values that make you the person that you are. Like the compass it has a steadfast needle that ensures your heading is true.
Using the Oath and Law together, like the map and compass these tools will set your course to being a man of Character, a good Citizen, and promote in yourself and other fitness in your mind, body, and heart.
As we have traveled that trail to First Class, weather is is recent or in the past, or if you are just starting that journey, remember that the skills you develop today are there for you to use for the rest of your life. Focus on these skills they will make a difference not only on a camp out but every day that you wake up and look in the mirror starting your Great Scouting Day!
Set your azimuth to achieve your goals and keep checking your map to stay on course.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I got into a debate or more a less a discussion about Scouting and it’s Values with a co-worker of mine. He contended that Scouting was too conservative in its values and that is what makes it unappealing in the Portland area. He debated that conservative values don’t work well in America today as we are moving toward a Country that is more about the people. Now, I don’t know what the heck that means and I won’t go into the whole debate, but what it did cause me to do was argue the point of values to my co-worker. The basis of that argument was the difference between Conservative values and I suppose we would have to argue Liberal values as they would be the opposites of one another.
This is not a political discussion. We are only talking about values here, but since he brought up the word “Conservative” I had to have an opposing side to compare with.
To make the debate not one of emotion or politics, I stuck with the basics. Where do we get our values and what are our values in Scouting. How we apply our values is up to the individual, but it is fair to say that in an organization like the Boy Scouts of America, our shared values become a part of our lives and we should not separate the Scouting life from every day life.
Scouting gets it values from the Scout Oath and Law, the motto and Slogan, and Outdoor code.
Lets start with the Scout Oath. The Oath is the foundation promise of the organization. It is the jumping off point that the individual takes an oath to “On his honor” he will live the following values. He makes three promises in the Scout Oath. He makes a promise to do his Duty to his God and his Country. He makes a promise to help other people at all times. And he makes a promise to himself, to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. This promise lays the ground work for the way he is going to live his life. So lets see, those three promises are conservative? Then what do Liberals think and believe?
Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of our values, the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. 12 words that define how we should live our lives. Conservative? If so are liberals not trustworthy, loyal, helpful etc? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to grow up living those values, after all, does not all of those 12 values lead America to a better place? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to develop good habits of service to others and being courteous? Have you been to a mall in anywhere America lately. We need more Scouts is all I am saying. If rude, unkind, sad, and filth is this new America we are looking for then we are getting there quick.
What about thrifty? Don’t we want our Scouts to develop good habits when it comes to money and how they handle it. Don’t we want them to know that they have a responsibility to pay their own way and not be a drain on society. Now that I will concede is a conservative point of view. Scouts should never be looking for a hand out or to become a part of the welfare state. Scouts should work hard and provide for themselves and their families and should not settle for other people paying their way.
So the Scout Law is our shared values that lead us to being better people and better members of society.
And what about the Outdoor code. Those four requirements to be Clean in my outdoor manners, careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded. Yep, they hurt us as Americans. Those crazy conservative values that direct us to being better in when it comes to our time spent in outdoors and our stewardship to the land.
Now those of us that have been in and around Scouting long enough know that we derive our mission statement from our values and core beliefs.
To refresh our memories and to help my coworker see just how conservative our values are here is the mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Hmmm… moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes. What the heck are we thinking? That is way to conservative.
How about the Vision statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Every eligible youth to become a responsible citizen? That is just conservative crazy talk and can lead to no good. I think the part that scares the liberal-minded in the vision statement is the word LEADER.
So what is the point here?
This started as a debate about conservative values and the closer we look into them they are just good values. What scares me is this. If this is what we consider conservative, what the heck is the opposite? What are liberals thinking?
I would think these are American Values and we should want every American to live them.
As this debate got me thinking, I did a quick Google search and came on this. Thought it was worth your time to review. Values of Americans. Take a look at that and see that Scouting and it’s values do make a difference.
The point is simply this. It is not political unless you make it that way. If Scouting;s values are conservative than conservative is the right way to live. Until I see liberal values that match those strong values that make good citizens that can make good choices and hold themselves to a standard of service to others and self-determination. Being people who are not going to be a burden on society, rather people who are willing to work hard and make a contribution. In short… Men of Character.
Now I am not saying that folks on the left lack Character. What I am saying is that Character matters more when we look at the values of the Boy Scouts of America coupled with the mission and vision of the organization. What I am saying is that if any of those values are wrong then we have some serious problems and I have major problems with the opposite of Conservative.
It is an interesting debate and the further we get into it the deeper understanding of how people like my coworker think the more I realize that we need more Scouts and people who are Scout like in America.
And now you know one of the reasons that I end each post with…
Have a Great Scouting Day!
At the end of every Troop meeting our Troop circles up, joins hands, and sings Scout Vespers followed by reciting the Scout Law. This has concluded our meetings for years and has become a great tradition in our Troop.
A couple of weeks ago a young Scout asked why we sing that particular song, since we are not really at a campfire. He thought it was odd that we say “as our campfire fades away” when we are in a meeting hall.
I explained to him, and then the Troop that we always have the spirit of the campfire in us. It is Scout Spirit. There is magic in every campfire and we carry that with us every day.
The campfire within us burns bright showing the world that we are Scouts.
And that is why we say the Scout Law after we sing the song. As the campfire fades we need to add more fuel to it to keep it burning. As we send the Scouts away from the meeting each week we rekindle in them their fire. We remind them that they have a fire burning in them and that they need to live that Scout Spirit using the Oath and Law as their Guide.
So we sing and remind one another of the fire inside each and every one of us.
This is a great tradition in our Troop. I hope your Troop has similar traditions that make Scouting not only fun but meaningful.
What are some of your Troop traditions?
Let us know.
Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask
Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?
Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low.
Bless my mom and Bless my dad,
These are things that they should know.
I will keep my honor Bright,
The oath and law will be my guide.
And mom and dad this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Once 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!
Back in 2009 I had an email exchange with a “Concerned Eagle Scout” about Friends of Scouting. As this month in our Council we are in full swing with our FOS campaign, I thought I would blow the dust off of this post and share it with you again. My thoughts are the same on the issue and Concerned Eagle Scout helped me demonstrate that where there is a will, there is a way.
What are your thoughts on Friends of Scouting?
Here is the post from 2009.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Mr. “Concerned Eagle Scout” has concerns about justifying FOS dollars.
And I can appreciate “Concerned Eagle Scouts”concerns. His biggest issue seems to be the cost of Scouting. Well.. let me share his email with you. And yeah… I moderated it.. took out some stuff that really did not add to the argument. And my comments are embedded in his email. My comments are in Bold text.
OK CES (Concerned Eagle Scout), here is where you start in the wrong direction.
Everything in Scouting is getting expensive because things are expensive. But you do know that the Scout Shop (uniforms and supplies) are not part of your council and receive NO dollars from FOS. Salaries, benefits, and materials for running the Councils day-to-day operation is where the money goes.
We run a very effective program for our cub scouts and we do it all with the money we raise through popcorn. Like JC states, we have families in our pack that are experiencing financial hardship with the current economic situation. Welcome to the club.. things are tough all over. So don’t support FOS.. and watch your Scouting programs go away.
How can we as scouts expect or even think of asking these families to put out more money when their having problems meeting their own financial needs. Well… how can I expect it.. I love Scouting. I can afford 42 cents a day for FOS.. heck a Scout is thrifty right. I collect cans and recycle them for FOS. You mean to tell me, you can’t do that? You mentioned running of the camps and the staff that supports them; how can I or any scout leader expect a family in financial hardship to pay $300 for camp (yes it costs that much in our council to send a boy to day camp)? Again, if that is the cost of doing business in your Council.. which seems a bit steep to me.. then that is the cost of doing business. Sell more popcorn.. have a car wash, participate in the candy sales and hold a Garage sale. Thrifty. Explain to me so that I can explain to my scouts and their parents why they should give to FOS when the top officers of scouting make over 140K annually. What Council are you in? I know that there is no one in your council that makes that much. Maybe at the National level, but then again… none of your FOS money goes to National. That’s almost double the annual household income for some of our scout families. Explain it to me Jerry so that I can justify it to my scouts and their parents. It’s this simple. don’t support it and you will have no Scouting. If your families are making 70,000 a year. Then you are doing better than most. So I would suggest you act like an Eagle Scout and remember your obligation you took to Scouting. Be Thrifty and Helpful and figure out a way to raise the funds. Families in our area make much less than what you have suggested and we keep our Council vibrant and healthy. Rather than make a bunch of excuses and whine… figure out a way that you can support Scouting. We have become very creative. Bake sales, car washes, dinners, etc. I’ve asked my local council for an explanation and they can’t or won’t give me an explanation, they just want the money. I do not think you are being intellectually honest here. Every Council brochure that I have looked at (via the internet etc) disclose where the money goes and how your dollar benefits the Council. If local councils want money to support the program and pay their paychecks, then they need to get the funds from corporations.You have heard about the FOS Community program right? They get money from your local corporations. That is what a lot of your DE’s time is spent doing. Oh and about 85 cents of every dollar from FOS goes to programs.. not paychecks. Endowments, and other funds are used for paychecks. At least in our Council, I can’t imagine your Council being to different. In my eyes and the eyes of other in our pack, families give enough to support scouting. I think you need to open your eyes a little wider and see the program for what it really is not as a target. I know times are tough, but that is no excuse for Scouting to suffer.
We all budget our time, energy and money. As we sit at our dinning room tables and work out our families monthly budget we cut what is not important and spend on what is. FOS is one of those items that we are not willing to cut because we see, directly, the value of our dollar.
We see that Scouting does good things… not just for my two sons, but for all the Scouts in my Troop. So I can assume that it is doing good in every unit.
I justify giving to FOS because I see the camps that we go to… in fact we camping at one of our Councils 18 fully paid properties this weekend. That can’t happen without FOS.
I look beyond emotion and look at real numbers. I can understand where you are coming from… really I can, but I think if you all took the time and penciled it out.. you could easily justify to your Packs families the benefits of making contributions to FOS. I am not sure where you get your numbers and information from, my guess is it is probably from another disgruntled Scouters. But my friend, you are an Eagle Scout. Somewhere along the way people paid and you benefited from this program. Give back. That simple.
Just my thoughts….
Thanks for your thoughts.I hope that my comments do not come across as smug or unfriendly. It is a simple fact that no matter what, we need to do what we need to do to keep Scouting alive and well, if that means we give to FOS..then that is what we need to do. Call it something else…it still pays for Scouting.
Concerned Eagle Scout, I am not beating you up, I am calling you to learn more and really look at the dollars. It pencils out.. I promise you.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I do not talk much about the Order of the Arrow on this blog, and maybe I should. I have not received a lot of requests for OA topics, but over the past few months I have been giving the Order of the Arrow a bit more thought.
As many of you know (that follow me on social media) I have been elected to Vigil Honor.
The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors. (From the OA website) It is a great honor to have been chosen to be a Vigil member.
Since I have been giving more thought about the Order of the Arrow, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on OA membership and what the Order of the Arrow really means [to me].
First some background on the Order of the Arrow. And rather than rediscover the wheel, I am going to use information found at the Order of the Arrow website.
The Order of the Arrow was founded in 1915 by Camp Director E. Urner Goodman and Assistant Camp Director Carroll A. Edson at the Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp. Goodman and Edson were looking for ways to recognize campers that demonstrated a cheerful spirit and service. In those days there were many camp honor societies throughout the Nations Scout camps. Some of those were the Gimogash, Ku-Ni-Eh, Nani Ba Zhu, Firecrafters and Mic O Say. Over time many of those camper honor societies merged and became local Lodges within the Order of the Arrow. Mic O Say is still active and recognized by the Boy Scouts of America.
The Order of the Arrow became a part of the National Program of the Boy Scouts of America in 1934. By 1948, the OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. Since then the Order of the Arrow has expanded to over 300 Lodges, most Lodges representing a Council, although some Lodges make up multiple Council areas.
The mission of the Order of the Arrow is to fulfill its purpose as an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America through positive youth leadership under the guidance of selected capable adults. The Order of the Arrow is completely youth led. A member of the OA is consider a youth until his 21st birthday.
The OA is more than just an honor society. It has a specific purpose and looks to gain members that loyal live up to those goals. It is for that reason that members should be chosen from within their units that best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. If the Scout is willing to not only live the Oath and Law daily, but dedicate himself to service than he is a good candidate for the Order of the Arrow. Arrowmen are known for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, you will find that many if not all camp staff at your local Scout camp are members of the OA. They promote camping and Scout spirit daily making our Scout camps fantastic. Arrowmen serve promoting year-round and long-term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others. OA service, activities, adventures, and training for youth and adults are models of quality leadership development and programming that enrich and help to extend Scouting to America’s youth. One of the great ways that the OA promotes long-term retention in Scouting is through ceremonies starting with Arrow of Light and Cross Over ceremonies.
As Scouting’s National Honor Society, our purpose is to:
Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.
Just like the Aims of the Boy Scouts of America, membership in the Order of the Arrow solidify in a Scout of Scouter the drive to be of service and grow in Character, Citizenship and fitness. The Order of the Arrow is summed up in three words, often seen as WWW. Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service. In other words, the OA is the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service.
The OA is Local and it is National. What I mean by that is simply this. Just like your Troop is local and the programs offered at the Troop level are planned and executed locally, you and your Troop are part of the National Council or organization. This is strength in program and resources. The OA has many great local Lodge and Chapter programs, but the programs offered through the National Organization demonstrate the strength of the Order.
The support of the Order of the Arrow for the National Journey to Excellence program is one such program. JTE for the OA replaced the National Quality Lodge program and gave the OA a better tool of measuring the Quality program it offered at the National and Lodge level.
The National OA Endowment was formed more than 30 years ago as means for the Order to fund scholarships and special programs. The national Order of the Arrow committee oversees the annual program budget which is funded using the earnings from the national OA endowment.
And there are more programs at the Lodge level that benefit the local Council, Arrowmen, and Scouts in general.
The Order of the Arrow has its own recognition programs also. You can read all about the OA’s awards at their site.
OK… so that’s the Order of the Arrow from the book But where the Sash meets the Scout what does the Order of the Arrow mean and represent.
I won’t go into the ceremony of the Order of Arrow other than to say from the beginning the Order of the Arrow, through its ceremony and tradition call on the Scout/Scouter to Find the Arrow.
The Arrow is that symbol that we use in Arrow of Light ceremonies to signify a journey. An adventure that is straight and true. A trail that leads the individual to find the right path in life. One of dedicated service to others and the living of the Scout Oath and Law. So in finding the arrow, we strive daily to seek that which is an honorable way of living.
The Order of the Arrow uses the legend of the Lenni Lenape Indians of the Delaware to start the members of the OA on that journey. It is a journey marked by service to others.
Personal Thoughts on the Order of the Arrow.
As stated above, the OA has high-minded goals and bases its foundation on service. This is why I initially started to like the Order of the Arrow. Well, lets back up for a minute… This is why I started to like it as a Scoutmaster. I was first introduced to the OA as a youth at Camp Freedom in Germany. The initial impact of Indians coming across a lake at night in canoes holding torches to light the way. A Great Chief that called his Brothers to seek those that were worthy to join the tribe.. those things as a Scout fascinated me. It was mysterious and cool. It was special. When I went through my ordeal we were given an arrow carved from a piece of wood. We had to wear that arrow around our neck and if we violated any of the rules of the ordeal a chunk was cut from the arrow. This tested us as young men to be disciplined and live that part of the oath that called us to be obedient. For what ever reason, that is no longer a virtue that parents feel important these days and the cutting of corner or chunk of wood is recognized not to reinforce expected behavior but that of offending or hurting the feelings of the person in violation of the agreed rules. But the couple of days that we worked hard serving our camp, quietly laboring cheerfully left a mark on us.
I had the pleasure of becoming a Brotherhood member of the Order with my oldest son. Again, we renewed our commitment to service. John later became a Chapter officer and served the lodge as an Ordeal master as well as a member of the Pre Ordeal, Ordeal, and Brotherhood ceremonies teams. Josh, my youngest son also sealed his membership in the Order of the Arrow as a Brotherhood member and served as an Elangomate during an Ordeal. Having my sons as members made being a member of the Order special in a different way. Watching them grow with an attitude of service was a great thing.
John, our oldest son continues his journey, even though out of Scouting now as a Vigil member. Those values or Cheerful Service carries with him in his daily life. Josh, our youngest, although out of Scouting now also does not stray from his commitment to live the Scout Oath and Law and be of service also. Both look back at their Scouting life with fond memories of time spent with the Order of the Arrow.
Me, in my role as Scoutmaster value the added emphasis that the OA places on living the Oath and Law and being one that goes above and beyond that of an “average” Scout. That may be that thing that is to set Arrowmen apart. We are all called to serve and live the values of the Oath and Law… but as Arrowmen we commit to taking it a step further and making that a life long commitment. Being a Brother in Scouting and to our fellow-man. To serve cheerfully.
In a perfect world that meaning and those commitments would resonate within every Arrowmen. Often times it is lost in a sash and flap and just another Scouting thing. As is with those Scouts that say the Oath each week at their meetings, but fail to live the standard of it, there are Arrowmen that fall short. But the Arrow is within them. The need only to find it.
That happens when the mature and look into themselves and see where their lives are headed. It happens when they see examples of Scouts and Scouters that truly live those values. The example of leaders that proudly wear the symbols of membership and share the meaning and journey of seeking the arrow.
Elections are held annually for membership in the Order of the Arrow. The Scoutmaster sets the ballot of eligible Scouts. Scouts that have met the requirements of membership and more importantly are those Scouts that have demonstrated leadership in serving their fellow Scout. I think also that we need to look at the Scouts potential to lead and serve. I have seen Scouts that met the requirements but fell short in the service area that really took to the OA. Becoming members of ceremonies teams and working for their troop and Council at camps and within the service opportunities offered through the Lodge. The OA can enhance a Troops program because of the higher calling of the Arrowmen.
Now, I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but it does work. You can see it in the faces of a Scout called to serve. Reluctantly at first he finds success and meaning in his leadership and service.
The Order of the Arrow is good for Troops. I know of many Scoutmasters that feel that the OA takes away from Troop programs. When used correctly, the OA can be a game changer in a unit. It is not meant to be secret or exclusive. It is meant to enhance service and leadership. It is designed to give incentive to Scouts looking for more. In my opinion it is a great way to focus a Scout in the direction of finding the Arrow.
Where is the Arrow? It is up to you. We know that the foundation is a life that is right and true, but the Arrow is within each of us to seek and find. Once found, a life of cheerful service becomes the norm and our society is better for it. It makes the good Scout a Great Scout. In turn making Scouting better.
This organization, founded to honor those that served camps has grown into an organization that is looked to as the Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America. That higher calling to serve, what more could Scouting ask for?
If you are a Scoutmaster not sure that support of the OA is the right way to go, rethink that. Get it into your unit and watch the difference come alive.
For those of you that are in support of the Order of the Arrow.. Thank you.. keep it up.
I look forward to going through my Vigil Induction. I don’t know what is ahead, but knowing the journey that I was set on at Camp Freedom those many years ago, I know that it will get me a step closer to finding the Arrow in me.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
**A note about the picture on top of this post.. From left to right in the picture are members of my Troop doing a Cross over ceremony. First on the left is James, now an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member, Second is my Youngest son Josh. A Brotherhood member and finished Scouting as a youth as a Life Scout. Third is my oldest son John. He is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member. Forth is Parker, he is an Eagle Scout and Brotherhood member. Finally is Lucas, he is wrapping up his Eagle Award right now and is a Brotherhood member of the OA.
Before I get into today’s post I want to thank every one for their interest in the review of Scoutbook.com. Unfortunately I was only given three free subscriptions and they went to the first three emails I received. But the response was overwhelming. 50 of you emailed for a shot at the subscription.
So the folks at Scoutbook.com have given me another offer… if you subscribe for a year of Scoutbook and put in THESCOUTMASTERMINUTE in the coupon code at check out you will get 10% off your subscription.
Thank you to Scoutbook.com and thank all of you for supporting me and them.
Now on with the regular scheduled blog post…
Baden Powell understood young men, he had a connection with the way they learned, developed and reacted to teaching styles and learning environments. In the following excerpt from the Lessons from the Varsity life by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell he discusses the Scout law.
1. A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED.
2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL.
3. A SCOUT’s DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL.
4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL.
5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS.
6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS.
7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS.
8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES UNDER ALL DIFFICULTIES.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY.
10. A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED.”
Scouting across the world adopted the law and modified it to meet the needs of the national programs in which they applied. But the rule of DO and not Don’t carried throughout. We learn through our Scout Law what we should Do and Be, not what we should not do or be. Unlike the 10 commandments that teach us what not to do and be, the Scout Law encourages a life of Service and ethical attitudes. It gives us a starting point from which we test our decisions and actions that follow.
I found it interesting that the other day I over heard a man talking about the “Say it out loud test”. This tested whether or not one should engage in something that may not be sound. The way it works is that before you do something, say it out loud. If it does not sound right in your head… don’t do it.
Baden Powell encouraged us to DO the right thing. He did not want to burden us with a list of DON’Ts… DO be Trustworthy, DO be Loyal, DO be Helpful, DO be Friendly, DO be Courteous, DO be Kind, DO be Obedient, DO be Cheerful, DO be Thrifty, DO be Brave, DO be Clean, and DO be Reverent. Putting this positive attitude in our rules to live by makes it easier. We all enjoy it when we are given opportunity and latitude. When I am told that I can do something, I feel a lot better than when someone tells me I can’t.y it out loud. For example, if you are going to rob a bank. Say it out loud. It just sounds wrong… then don’t do it.
Another example; “Hey lets all put a knife in the wall socket”… say it out loud… it does not even sound right, does it? Then don’t do it.
As Scouts and future leaders of America, we encourage you to BE, KNOW, and DO. You know what right looks like.. you have the power to DO it!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I talked about the four “C”s that when added to the leaders tool box makes for ease in decision-making and better leaders.
I will add that when our young leaders start using the four “C”s they will also become Confident leaders. Young leaders need practice to become confident. Learning and finding success builds that confidence.
Making mistakes are a good thing.
I have heard confidence defined as the “Expectation of Success”. I think this is a fair definition in that as a leader we are striving to achieve a goal. Whether that is a person goal or a team goal, the mastering of a task or skill, or getting from point A to point B. The leader expects to achieve success.
Making mistakes to achieve that success is ok when lessons are learned and there is time to evaluate and make corrections. Mistakes that are uncorrected or allowed to be swept under the rug are just mistakes and a waste of time and energy. Further more they do not built confidence in leaders as they do not see that success when they fail to learn from their mistakes.
So when our goal as Scoutmasters is to build confident leaders we need to watch for those mistakes and coach them through the recovery.
When a Quarterback throws an interception he is often greeted by the coach as he comes to side line. The QB failed to achieve the goal of completing the pass. He failed to achieve the goal of moving the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown. The coach has a choice to make. He can discuss the play with the Quarterback and refocus his vision of success or he chew him out. I would submit that while the Quarterback let the team down by throwing the pick, he will recover faster and make fewer mistakes if coached on mechanics of the pass, what he saw down field, or maybe even communicating better with his receiver. The point is there are many things that the coach may have seen that the QB did not as the Defensive End came busting around the Tackle. It is the coaches responsibility to build that confidence back up in the player. The coach has a bigger perspective of the game and can assist in getting the Quarterback back on track by teaching him and not chastising him.
Having said that, there is room in certain situations for a good hard lesson. I have said it many times, I care less about how you feel and more about how you act. I would never advocate belittling or bringing a Scout down.. remember that the goal here is to build confidence. If a leaders decision was such that it caused harm or moves away from the values found in the Oath and Law, the discussion is a bit different. Always in the spirit of teaching and learning, but not such that the leader feels like he got away with something.
Confident leaders make consistent good decisions. Part of that decision-making is in how the leader, by being confident builds confidence in those he leads. The most important thing that leaders can do is show confidence in other people.
This in turn leads to leaders that show initiative. Initiative is power. Power to act, Power to make decisions, and Power to take advantage of opportunity. This is when real leaders begin to shine. This is where you see the confidence built-in your young leaders. This is where you start to build that leadership trait in future leaders. When the younger Scouts see their leaders show initiative and confidence it sends the message that it is ok to step up and lead.
It all begins with that vision of success. Clear goals, personal and as part of the team. Building confident leaders is the responsibility first of the Scoutmaster. When that happens you have a Troop that can lead.
Have a Great Scouting Day!