Scout Law

Election 2012

I have no comment on the results of the election.  I hope that everyone voted and did their civic duty.
What I do think about the election and our election process is this.  No matter who won there was a process that we the people agree is the best way to elect our leadership.  It may not be perfect but it works for us.  Not everyone is happy about the results.. about 49% of America is not to jazzed about the outcome, but that is how it works.  If we want to change the way it works, we have the ability to do so through the process.
This is a great teaching opportunity for our Scouts, who I am sure have also had their collective fill of TV commercials, junk mail, and dinner table conversations about the election.  Now is the time to answer those questions that they may not understand, encourage them to be a part of the process starting with their student government, but most importantly the fact that whether it is a school election or a national election, they must get out and vote and let their voice be heard.  Even if that voice is a small oval on a ballot.
I am trying real hard to keep my political opinion to myself here.  As we should when talking with our Scouts, but this is my blog and I suppose I can say what I want, but in the interest of being Loyal, Courteous, and kind… I will reserve comment on how I feel about the bad choice we American’s made… Again.
Have a Great Scouting Day

Are you a Messenger of Peace?

Last week I was surprised when I was given the patch for the messenger of peace initiative.  This is a unit and individual recognition, and so when I got it while I was down at out council office, I was humbled.  The person that submitted it said that it was for the “Work I do using media to improve our Scouting world”.   Again, I am thankful, and I am sure that our unit is going to get this also for a recent project we completed.
The question came to my mind, why have I not seen anyone wearing this?  Are units unaware?  Are they just doing it?  It’s obviously not about the patch, but the initiative is such a worthy one, that we in the Scouting world should be embracing it.
I went back and reread the letter at the BSA web site.  I suppose I have always been one that is impressed with the grand scope of the Scouting movement.  In short I think it is cool to be apart of somehting this big and something that is world-wide and yet has shared values.  There is not much else in our world, save religions, that can say that.  And look what a mess religions have made in the world.  I am not suggesting that faith in a higher power has screwed things up.. I am saying however that people tend to screw it up.  Scouting seems to have stood the test of time.  Yes, we have our ups and downs, but the values and mission of the Scouting movement have not changed.  People come and go, but those that “Run Scouting” at the World and National levels all seem to understand the good that will come from Scouting when allowed.
I have talked with many Scouters about our National office and our Council/ District.  There seems to be an overwhelming idea that they are in it for the money and numbers.  And to that I say.. yes.. yes they are.  And then I say I am glad they are promoting the program, getting money and sponsors, pushing recruiting and retention, and developing relationships in our community.  If they didn’t do it.. who would.  ME?  No way.. I am to busy working Scouting where Scouting matters.  Being a messenger for peace starts at the unit level.  Where the Scouts are.  Too many Scouters get wrapped up in the wrong things.  They worry about what everyone else is doing, most of the time with little or no impact of them.. but people are people and you have to worry.  If they spent as much energy in their units, growing them, teaching them, letting them learn and develop, their unit would be world-class.  But they choose to get wrapped up in politics and he said she said.  This is how things get screwed up.  I guess that’s how things get messed up globally.
So back to my thinking about why I don’t see this patch around.  Well that thought led to our global Scouting community and how many Scouts and Scouters in the 220 countries and territories that are participating in this.  Just think.  Take 220 countries and have all their Scouts and Scouters working toward peace.  There would never be war again.  Oh silly me.  We would have to get the politicians out-of-the-way… but wait… we could.  The people could force this change.  I really believe that it could happen.
Remember that in 1920 there was a world Jamboree.. just a few years after the First World War.  If you know history, just because the war was over does not mean that things were peaceful, especially in Europe.  34 countries showed up
As most of you know, I am a combat veteran and I certainly support the efforts of our military and those that lead it, sometimes begrudgingly.  And I am believe that what we did in Iraq was just and worth it.  I have no regrets.  But when I look back at the pain that wars cause, the ripping apart at families, the destruction and the lives that have to be repaired after these conflicts it is it not uncommon to ask, Why?  What for?  Now there are bad people in the world and I for one am glad to know that the world no longer has a guy named Saddam Hussein on it.  Those people need to be stopped and removed.  The Hitlers and Stalin’s of the world need to go.  But dealing with the “Bad vacuum” is the next issue.  Enter Scouting and people with real good values.
As a messenger of peace I think it is up to us to do what we can to fix our Three meter zone.  We all can do it.  We just don’t.
I guess it all comes down to people.  How do we change them?  How do we effect that change in our community.  Baden-Powell had that idea back in 1907 and started seeing the reality of a world-wide peace movement as Scouting grew.  It is now up to us to carry that torch.  Will you?
Stop worrying about the things you can’t control.  Control the things you can and be an influence.  Influence this change in your units and community.  Demand more of your elected officials.. you know the folks that swear to work for you.  Hold their feet to the fire and don’t settle for men and women that lack character to be our leaders.  Work hard to fulfill the mission of Scouting.  Be a messenger of peace, let your actions speak louder than your words.  And for goodness sake let people know that we are committed to being an instrument of peace.
So what does it mean when I challenge you all to “Have a Great Scouting day”?  Live the values of Scouting.  Keep the promise that you make in the Oath.  Be a messenger of peace.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Effort

The other day I went to the high school to pick up my youngest son from Football practice.  Practice was running late, so I hung out and watched as the players ran sprints and did up downs.  Now, for those of you that have played a little football, you know that after 3 hours of practice the last thing you want to do is wind sprints and up downs.  But the team seemed to run and run and run.  After each lap and set of up downs the coach would tell them to watch the ball and then they would get in a ready position.  The idea was to be disciplined and ready to finish games in the fourth quarter.  He asked the players to give more effort.
The longer they ran.. the less effort the coach would see.  They were tired and as they got more tired, the less effort they would give.. the less effort they gave, the more mistakes they would make, the more mistakes they would make, the more they ran… and so went the cycle.
It all came down to effort.  Who was willing to give more when it counted.
I stood there and watched and thought.. yep, it is about effort.  Life is about effort.  You can over come many things with more effort.  The harder you work, the more you will be rewarded.  If you apply the effort to any task you will eventually see results.
In the fourth quarter, weather that is on the football field, in the classroom, or in a Scout troop effort matters.
Here is what I see way to often… a lack of effort.  I see this in most things in life.  Way to many times we see our young men just try to get by, to “Max the Minimum”.  To give the least amount of effort and expect the same results.
We see that a lot in our Scouts..  Way to often do we see them avoid patrol chores, planning, or pitch in when they are needed.  Way to often do we see them demonstrate a lack of effort when it comes to finishing tasks like service projects.  And then there is advancement.  I see a lot of Scouts that expect to be moved along, just like when they were in Cub Scouts, with their peers.  Or I see the effort coming from their parents.  That lack of effort will not get the work done.  I suppose that’s why only 4% become Eagle Scouts.
Now, we won’t make them do wind sprints and up downs.. no we just encourage them to “Do their best”.. well, I guess what I am saying is that maybe “Their best” is not good enough.  Maybe they need to apply more effort and make their best better.
This is the game of life and where do we want them to be in the fourth quarter.  I want them to be winning.
I want them to be successful.  I want them to work hard for what they get, not expect a hand out or to be “moved along” with their peers.  No I want to see them give the effort to their lives.  It is then that they will appreciate the things that they earn.  It is with more effort that they will be great men.
I love these teachable moments they seem to pass in front of us each day.  Watching as my son and his team mates ran until they proved that they wanted to be winners made me look at other areas of our life.  Wouldn’t it be great if every one in the School gave that much effort, or in the neighborhood and community.
Living the Scout oath and Law takes effort.  It’s not easy and it’s not designed to be.  People that do not give effort just get by.  Those that give extra effort succeed.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Prepared. For Life

As everyone that reads this blog knows, the BSA’s new(er) slogan is as the title reads… “Prepared.  For Life”.   I have often stayed away from advertising gimmicks and jingles.. “An Army of One”, and “Be all that you can Be” come to mind.  But this one hit home as I thought about how Scouting does impact our lives.  Yesterday was my first day back from vacation and so I spent a little time catching up on emails, reading my favorite blogs, and cleaning camping gear.  My good buddy Adam posted a piece about his vacation last week.  It is a great article and illustrated just how Scouting is Preparing us for life.
I was and I suppose still am reluctant to tell this story in light of Adams blog post, but once again I find myself in need of sharing this wonderful thing called Scouting.
Last week we spent at Glacier National Park.  If you have never been.. GO!  It is truly an amazing place.  So as you can imagine when I go camping I go prepared.  We are ready to sustain for a week in comfort and have a good time out in the woods.  This time was no exception.  Since it was family time, I went a lot heavier than I am used to, the big cabin tent, the big stove, the coolers etc.  But I still had my day pack which had my 10 essentials in it and since we were in Glacier NP, a canister of Bear spray.
One afternoon as we sat in camp, a scream came from the road in front of our camp site.  The boys were throwing a football around and one fell.  HE ran straight into our site crying.  Why our site and not to his parents.. I don’t know.  Maybe instinct told him that I had just completed the Wilderness First Aid course, or that I was a Scoutmaster, or he had no idea where he was.. either way.. here he ran into our site bleeding from the hand.
I had him sit down and told him to look me in the eyes.  Josh, my youngest son, had already got to my day pack and retrieved the first aid kit.  I told this youngster to relax and that he was going to be fine.  His alligator tears started to dry and I just kept talking to him.  Found out that in three days he would be turning 9 years old and that he was from Canada.
All the while I gloved up and started treating his cut.  He had fallen on his hand and took a good layer or two of skin off his palm.  Cleaning the area and bandaging with non stick pads I was done with the bleeding part.  Then I started looking for possible fracture.  He asked why I was poking and pressing on his wrist and hand.. I told him I wanted to make sure he was ok.  He was.  Right about that time, his dad came into our camp.  He said he had heard the scream and started heading in this direction.  I told what I had done and that I think everything is going to be ok, keep it clean and if he needed I would change the dressing the next day.
He saw the Scouting stickers on the back of my truck and made a comment about them stating that his son had run to the right place.  “Who else would be ready to anything”, he said referring to the stickers.
So all of this got me to thinking about just how we Prepare our Scouts for life.
It’s not just first aid and camping skills, but as the mission statement states, Making ethical choice throughout their lives.
I often talk in this blog about character and making choices.  Being fit and healthy, being of service to others, and of course skills that will help them get through life.
Scouting is a great platform for this learning, discovery, and practice of the life skills that these young men will need as they go through it.  Being Prepared for as Baden Powell said.. Anything.
So it’s not just about camping and fun.  It truly is a game with a purpose and all of us should remember what that purpose it.  This new(er) slogan.. Prepared.  For Life.  Is the Boy Scouts of America mission statement in three words.  It is our call to action as Scouters.  It is what we are here for.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Going All in

Our Scouts like to play card games.  In their tents.. on picnic tables.. when ever we stop for an extended period of time, it seems that a deck of cards come out.  Now, they are not gambling, no money exchanges hands, and for the most part they are simple games.  But as I watched a recent game I realized that had this been a real hand of poker and they were playing with some skin in the game.. it would be a great metaphor for the Scout Oath and Law and more importantly.. a Life of Character.
You see.. we have the Oath on one hand and we have the Law on the other.  They are the cards that we are dealt and they are the cards we must play.  The cards represent our values, the values that are found in the Scout Law.  The chips we play with represent our character.  As we live the Scout Oath, we promise to live the parts of the Scout Law that shape our character.. and so as we go through the poker game of life, we bet that we are going to keep those promises.  When we have a Royal Flush.. that would be a great hand, we bet it all.  We go all in.
The problem is that ‘going all in’ requires us not to lose.  When we lose this hand, we lose our character.
Now I am willing to go all in.  I have to, and so do you.  You should not pick and choose which parts of the Law are important.  You focus on what needs work and highlight the rest.. but the 12 points of the Scout Law are equally important.
I asked a Scout the other night about values.  I asked him to tell me where he gets some of his values.  The response was immediate.  “Treat other people like you want to be treated” he said.  I asked him if that sounded like the Scout Law.  He did not see it at first, but then I asked if he wanted his friends to trust him.. he said yes.. How about Friendly.. yes.. and courteous.. yes.. we went through each part of the law.  The answer was yes.  So you want people to treat you like they were living the Scout law?  Yes, he said.  Then I told him that he should go all in to. 
We all need to go all in.  See the game with a purpose is a good game.. even when playing cards.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Values drive behavior

Today I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Dennis Prager Show.  I was listening to an older show in which he was talking about values, which, if you listen to his show for more than 10 minutes you will find that values is the main subject and the answer to most of our problems.  Anyway, the discussion today was about economics vs. values.  The argument was economics does not drive behavior, values drives behavior.  Now I am not going to turn this into a political post.  I could care less what your political affiliation is or how you view our political process.  I am however going to agree with Dennis Prager in his article “Science demands big government”.  Go ahead and read it for yourself and get back to me.  The point that I want to make is that I agree that economics is not the reason for bad behavior.. a lack of values is the reason for bad behavior.  We can all point to example after example of ‘less fortunate’ people that are good citizens, work hard, have good family lives, and do not engage in crime.  We can also point to example after example of ‘rich’ people that are crooks.  Individuals that have it all that do terrible things.  Just look at Madoff and his gang of financial thugs.  Ok.. you get the point there.
It all comes to values.  What values you were taught as a youngster and the values that you keep to drive your behavior.
OK… Are you ready for this… THE SCOUT LAW!
Yes ladies and Gentlemen.. the Scout Law has no economic boundaries, no financial limits, no ethnic affiliation, no class structure.  The Scout law is a set of values that shape behavior to a positive direction and ultimately ask for good behavior.
Take a look at the 12 points of the Scout Law.  These values should be a part of your life.  Take these twelve words and look at them closely.  Which one is not a good value?  Which one would allow you to do harm or demonstrate bad behavior?
The Scout Law is a great foundation for good behavior.  No matter where you live or how you were raised.  Living the Scout law you can not be a bad person.  I challenge you to prove me wrong.  Now.. be honest… you really have to live the Scout law.. not just say the words and call it good.  Saying words do not constitute “living” the values contained in the Scout law.  As much as knowing the 10 commandments without practicing them would not constitute living them.
So if we want to make the world a better place… lets try the Scout law.
One of Baden Powell’s ideas in starting Scouting was not to raise future soldiers but to grow a world wide peace movement.  The values found within the Scout law are universal and found in one form or another in Scouting organizations around the world.
The original Scout law appeared with the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908 and is as follows

1. A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a scout says “On my honour it is so,” that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, “I trust you on your honour to do this,” the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.
2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.
3. A SCOUT’S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, “Which is my duty?” that is, “Which is best for other people?”—and do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save life, or to help injured persons. And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.
4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL, AND A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, NO MATTER TO WHAT SOCIAL CLASS THE OTHER BELONGS. If a scout meets another scout, even though a stranger to him, he must speak to him, and help him in any way that he can, either to carry out the duty he is then doing, or by giving him food, or, as far as possible, anything that he may be in want of. A scout must never be a SNOB. A snob is one who looks down upon another because he is poorer, or who is poor and resents another because he is rich. A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him — “Kim,” the boy scout, was called by the Indians “Little friend of all the world,” and that is the name which every scout should earn for himself.
5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS: That is, he is polite to all—but especially to women and children and old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.
6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. He should save them as far as possible from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly—for it is one of God’s creatures.
7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS of his patrol-leader, or scout master without question. Even if he gets an order he does not like, he must do as soldiers and sailors do, he must carry it out all the same because it is his duty; and after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.
8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train, or some one treads on your favourite corn—not that a scout ought to have such things as corns— or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same. The punishment for swearing or bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender’s sleeve by the other scouts.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY, that is, he saves every penny he can, and puts it in the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.

These were written for the Scouts in the whole world, yet of course it focused on Scouting in the United Kingdom. As other groups started up Scouting organizations, each modified the laws, for instance ‘loyal to the King’ would be replaced by the equivalent text appropriate for each country.
Baden Powell later added ‘A Scout is Clean in thought and word and Deed’ in the 1911 edition of Scouting for Boys.
The Law around the world is similar.  In Australia the Scout law reads:
A Scout is trustworthy, A Scout is Loyal, A Scout is helpful, A Scout is friendly, A Scout is cheerful, A Scout is considerate, A Scout is thrifty, A Scout is courageous, A Scout is respectful, A Scout cares for the environment.
In Bangladesh the Law looks like this: A Scout’s honour is to be trusted. A Scout is a friend to all.  A Scout is courteous and obedient.  A Scout is kind to animals.  A Scout is cheerful at all times.  A Scout is thrifty.  A Scout is clean in thought,word and deed.
In Germany the Scouts say the Scout Law in this manner;  As a boy scout …… I meet everybody with respect. All scouts are my brothers and sisters.  … I go through the world confidently.  … I am courteous and helpful wherever this is necessary.  … I shall not do things just by halves and shall not give up, even in difficult situations.  … I shall develop my own opinion and stand by it.  … I shall say what I think and do what I say.  … I shall live modestly and in an environmental conscience manner.  … I shall stand by my origins and my faith.
And finally, in Scout Africa the Scouts understand their values like this; A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.  A Scout is loyal.  A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.  A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.  A Scout is courteous.  A Scout is a friend to animals.  A Scout obeys orders.  A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.  A Scout is thrifty.  A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.
Given the fact that all of these places on our planet where boys and girls learn through the Scouting movement and share a common set of values.. should we not have a better world?  The answer is yes.. BUT… First.  We need more people to be in Scouts and more important… we need the Scouts to not just recite or rattle off the words of the Scout law.  We need them to LIVE IT!
So take a look at the Scout law.. can you handle it?  Can you live it?  Can it change behavior?
I think so.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Duke

Most, if not all of us have hero’s, idols, or sports figures that we are fans of.  Now, I am not one to oogle over celebrities or go out of my way to get an autograph.  In fact I am quite the opposite and continuously preach that we need to be careful of who we “worship” in regards to being fans.
Having said that…
Today is one of my favorite actors birthday’s.  Marion Robert Morrison, also know as John Wayne was born this day in 1907.  Now it can be debated that John Wayne may not be the best role model, but as an actor he always played the hero.  He was an enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.  He played Football at USC (not my favorite school… but at least it was Football).
John Wayne as a character and man symbolized American values and ideals.  By the middle of his career, Wayne had developed a larger-than-life image, and as his career progressed, he selected roles that would not compromise his off-screen image. In his last film, the Shootist, he refused to allow his character to shoot a man in the back as was originally scripted, saying “I’ve made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it.”
John Wayne was and will always be a character that we can look to as a man!  He treated women with respect, he understood the value of service, he lived through his characters a sense of duty.  In his “real” life he believed in these things also.  He raised his family that way and even toward the end of his life, he publically supported conservative causes and promoted a life of ideals and Values.
Now I know that you have all heard or seen this before, but I am going to post it here on my blog just in case you want to use it or be reminded of the great man who was John Wayne.. yep.. one of my hero’s.
So here is how it went.  John Wayne was invited to speak at a fund-raising dinner for a Scout ranch.  The ranch was to honor Mr. Wayne by naming the ranch the ‘John Wayne Outpost camp’.
At the dinner, John Wayne spoke reciting the Scout Law.  He said during his speech that the” twelve points of the Scout Law are “nice words”. “Trouble is” he continued, “we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age, I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him, with a few things I have picked up in more than half a century since I learned it.”
Then be broke down the law like this:
“TRUSTWORTHY  The badge of honesty. Having it lets you look at any man in the eye. Lacking it, he won’t look back. Keep this one at the top of your list.
LOYAL The very word is life itself; for without loyalty we have no love of person or country
HELPFUL Part sharing, part caring. By helping each other, we help ourselves; not to mention mankind.  Be always full of help — the dying man’s last words.
FRIENDLY Brotherhood is part of that word. You can take it in a lot of directions – and do – but make sure and start with brotherhood.
COURTEOUS Allow each person his human dignity; which means a lot more than saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you, sir.” It reflects an attitude that later in life you wish you had honored more… earlier in life.  Save yourself that problem. Do it now.
KIND This one word would stop wars and erase hatreds. But it’s like your bicycle, it’s just no good unless you get out and use it.
OBEDIENT Starts at home. Practice it in your family. Enlarge it in your friends. Share it with humanity.
CHEERFUL Anyone can put on a happy face when the going is good. The secret is to wear it as a mask for your problems. It might surprise you how many others do the same thing.
THRIFTY Means a lot more than putting pennies away; and it is the opposite of cheap. Common sense covers it just about as well as anything.
BRAVE You don’t have to fight to be brave. Millions of good, fine, decent folks show more bravery than heavyweight champs just by getting out of bed every morning, going out to do a good day’s work, and living the best life they know how against the law of odds. Keep the word handy every day of your life.
CLEAN Soap and water helps a lot on the outside. But it is the inside that counts, and don’t ever forget it.
REVERENT Believe in anything that you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you are just biding time.”

John Wayne then thanked those at the dinner for putting his name on the outpost camp and said, “I would rather see it here than on all the theater marquees the world over.”

John Wayne is an American icon.  I have been a fan for as long as I can remember.
I will close with my favorite quote from John Wayne:
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
Have a Great Scouting Day!