Scout Law

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!

Creating separation

4-PercentOnce 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!

Living or Dying

r1933A 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!

Map and Compass

mapcompassHere 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!

Conservative Values?

scoutlawbelieveitThe 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!

…As our campfire fades away

fireAt 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!