Scout Law

Methods

Over the last couple of weeks Scouter friends and I have had numerous discussions about Scouting in our District.  After the last Scoutmaster training session it became pretty clear that many Scouters have heard about the methods of Scouting, but do not really put them into practice in their units.  Kind of like knowing that the BSA has a mission statement, but really it only applies at the National Level.. ahhh right?  Ahhhh.. No.
We got to talking last weekend about the methods of Scouting and how we should be using them in our units.  During the outdoor skills portion of the Scoutmaster training, it was unclear to many participants that the methods needed to be used to have a well-rounded program.. for that matter.. a Boy Scout Troop.
So I thought I would discuss the methods of Scouting over the next, lets see, 8 blog posts.
To quickly remind every one of what the methods are, they are:  Ideals, Patrols, Outdoor Program, Advancement, Association with Adults, Personal Growth, Leadership Development, and the Uniform.
Those eight methods are the steps that we take to reach our goals of Citizenship, Character, and Fitness.  The Boy Scout program (or the achievement of the goals) are dependant on all eight methods working at the unit level.
To start off the discussion we will dive into the IDEALS of Scouting. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.  These ideals are the foundation for everything that follows in the Boy Scout program.  Without the ideals, it is just a club that goes camping.  The building blocks for the Scouts character is directly tied to the ideals found in the Oath and Law.  It is extremely important that every Scout learns the Oath and Law and practices these ideals daily.  As a Scout advances it is a good idea for the Scout to do a self check on where he is in his character development.  This is tough at times and some Scouts will understand or mature at a faster rate than his peers.  That is why the self check is important.  The Scout is not measuring himself against his peers, he is measuring himself against the Oath and Law which are lofty, but simple concepts that grow with the Scout as he negotiates his life.  The basic understanding that he must be a person that strives to achieve those ideas outlined in the Oath and Law is important and should not be taken lightly by the Scoutmaster.  It is ok to call out a Scout that is not demonstrating those values.
The other part of the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America are that they are not only an individual responsibility, but they are ideals, values, that are shared among the group.  We all know and believe that the values expressed in the Oath and Law are good and true.  We can all agree that every Scout, no matter what his background, education level, learning capability, or social status, can live up to the Oath and Law.  It is hard, but it is attainable.  Expecting that from every Scout and Scouter is reasonable.
These shared ideals are the foundation for the rest of the program.  If they are modified or removed, there is no reason to continue.  Character development hinges on the values found in the Oath and Law.
Dictionary.com defines Character as:
(noun)
1.  the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2.  one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3.  moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4.  qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5.  reputation: a stain on one’s character.
The Boy Scouts of America in setting one of its goals to develop men of Character considers this in its values.  Time tested, tried, and unwavering values that shape a mans character.
The qualities of being someone who can be trusted, a man who is loyal to his family, friends, School, work etc.  A young man who is helpful and works with a smile on his face, friendly, courteous and kind.  Someone that is obedient to our laws, parents, employers and faith.  A man with a cheerful spirit not someone who belly aches and brings down the morale of the team.  A man who is thrifty with his money, time, and resources.  This is the man who will develop a sound attitude of stewardship.  Brave is not just for standing up for himself, it is standing up for other people, ideals, values, and that which the Scout believes in.  Being Brave is important in the world we live in where our values are tested daily.  And then the part of a man’s character that keeps him clean and reverent.  These are matters of the mind, heart and body.  The Scout should stay clean of mind and body.  Spiritual health is important to for a well-rounded man of character.  These values, when put in to practice demonstrate the attitudes of character.  They are if you will.. the characteristics of character.  I think we all can agree here that without them Scouting is not Scouting.
The method of our Ideals is the foundation of Scouting and the launching point for all of the rest of the methods.  Everything ultimately comes back to the Oath and Law and as a Scoutmaster we need to continuously teach these values, not only with our words, but our actions.
St. Francis of Assisi said; “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  We should do the same with the Oath and Law.
Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment or thought.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast # 104

Welcome back to the SMMPodcast, we dusted off the mic and got back to talking Scouting!  We are trying out a new segment.. “The Mobile Thought”..  In this show, we talk about Reverence, Troop Elections, and Youth Leadership.
Hope you enjoy the show.  Let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Direct LINK
Listen here

Tenderfoot and Porn

So if you are reading this.. you are either on the blog or got it via email and you are looking at this post electronically.. it was brought to you from the wonderful world of the internet.  The world-wide web.  I think we can all agree, especially those of us that grew up in an age when the words internet and blog did not exist and the web was something that a spider made, that the internet is a wonderful thing.  Those of us that use the internet as a tool for communicating, learning, sharing, and staying in touch find a lot of value in this great invention.  But like everything, people.. yes people have a tendency to mess things up.
The internet is a great thing, people who manipulate it and find ways to make it harmful, is another story.  It is shame that in this world of great technology we have to be watchful of what is on the net.
I suppose it is much like the stories we hear from our parents about how they never locked their doors in their neighborhood or that they could leave the keys in their cars.  Then times changed and on went the locks and security of belongings took center stage.
I read a study today about pornography on the internet.  It made me sad to hear that the average age of boys that find pornography either by mistake or using a deliberate search for it is 11 years old.  11 years old!!!!  This hit home as we are in the process of working with our new Scouts on their trail to first class.  Internet safety is now just as important as Safe Swim Defense or Youth Protection.  Our youngest Scouts are 11 years old and fall right into the age of the boys in this study.  We talk about bully’s with them, we talk about “Stranger Danger” and the 3 R’s of Youth Protection, but how much do we talk about the “bad parts” of the internet.
We use the internet for everything.  Our Troop has a website, we do a lot of communicating via email and the Facebook site of the Troop and the internet offers great scouting resources.  All of which we want our Scouts to have full access to.  But what about when wondering, inquisitive eyes start searching?  How do we tackle that subject?
Now, there are “Net Nannies” out there and restrictions that you can place on the computer users, but more and more pornography and other questionable sites just seem to pop up.  The sick and twisted individuals that prey on internet users are trying to, as much as we are trying to spread the good word about Scouting, spread their destructive and harmful garbage.  We need to be up front with our Scouts and know that this smut is just a click or two away from this blog and other great sites.  We need to educate them on why these sites are bad.  We need to bring it all back to the Scout Oath and Law.
Is the site I am looking at in keeping with the values and moral code set forth in the Oath and Law?  Would it be something that I would sit with my Mom and Dad and look at?  Education and expectation is critical when introducing this subject to your Scouts.
The internet is a great thing.  I love it and would find it hard to live without now.  There are thousands and thousands of great sites out there.. and then there is lots of garbage too.
Protect your Scouts, Educate your Scouts, and be aware that Tommy Tenderfoot is the average age of a boy in America searching for porn.  Be prepared!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

“Do unto others…”

Bare with me as I rant on humanity.
I have been around the world and seen a lot of things… some good, some bad.  Today I had a day which caused me to ask What the hell is wrong with people?
Excuse me if the language is strong or the message makes you feel uncomfortable.. but What the hell is wrong with people?
I am going to assume that if you take the time to read this blog, at some level you agree with the Scout Oath and Law.  You may not agree in total, but we can again assume that you believe that people should be helpful and that we have an obligation to treat others as we wish to be treated.  Right?
Ok.. so lets go from that point then.. we agree at least this much.
Today in the fair city of weirdness (I am glad to say I do not maintain an address within the city limits of Portland) I witnessed to acts that almost got me throwing punches.
First.
The city of Portland has a rather larger transient community.. call them hobo’s, bums, homeless, whatever, the fact is this population has made Portland home.  I am not opposed to this.  Portland has many outreach organizations, shelters, and government sponsored (paid) opportunities for these people.  This has in one way or another made Portland a desirable place to be homeless.  Before I go any further.. please know that this post is not in any way shape or form bashing those that find themselves in these dire straights.  There are many reasons for one to find themselves on the streets and I have the utmost compassion for those in real need.
The story here is how one of Portland’s finer citizens treated one of these folks out on the street. 
I was at an intersection waiting for the light to change.  It was a rather long light, so I found myself watching as a BMW pulled up next to me.  A pan handler approached the BMW with his sign asking for “Anything helps” .. you know the typical verbage on your average Portland pan handlers sign.  The man holding the sign looked like a fellow just down on his luck.  He was clean and dressed in modest clothing.  With him was two kids, I would guess 10 and 14 years old.  They looked embarrassed to be standing on the corner begging.
Then I heard yelling coming from the BMW.  The pan handler said “Thanks anyway” and turned around.  This is where I lost it.  The driver of the BMW then asked, in a loud voice, if the guy wanted a drink.  The man turned around just in time to take a large drink thrown at him.  It soaked him from about the belly to his knees.  The look of shock on the kids faces brought my blood to an immediate boil.  I threw my UPS truck into park and jumped out of the driver’s seat.  I ran up to the driver of the BMW and asked “What the hell is the matter with you?”  He looked at me with a surprised look and then the light turned green and he sped away.
The pan handler had moved back to the curb and told his kids that it was time to go.  I jumped back in my truck and pulled over to clear the intersection.  I had a couple of oranges and a banana in my truck, so I gave it to them.  I told the guy I wished I could do more.  He said “I understand”.  Looking at those kids my heart drop.  I have three at home and would never want to be in that position.
Now to be honest, I probably won’t be down at the shelter tomorrow handing out blankets or serving meals, but I would never treat someone like that guy got treated today.  I know that there are lots of “Street People” that have made that their choice.  Drugs, addictions to alcohol, run aways, many have made the choice to live off of the generosity of the people who pay taxes, give freely of time, talent, and money.  But then there are those, like this guy and his kids that just got a hard knock.  
Second.
I had to fill my truck up tonight on the way home.  Yep, $100 later I thought I may be standing on the corner with a sign, the penalty for driving a F150 I guess, but it holds 21 backpacks and so I will keep on driving it.  I’d rather pay the $100 then let the Prius lobby win!  Anyway, I pulled into the gas station and braced for impact.  As I sat there chatting with the attendant (yeah in Oregon we can’t pump our own gas) A lady pulled up, rolled down her window and started yelling at the attendant.  I thought for a minute, what the heck is she yelling about?  The attendant said he would be right over and started walking toward her car.  Well by now you could hear a pin drop and all attention was on this loud mouth lady.  She said she needed her car filled up and she was not about to pay $3.90 a gallon.  The attendant politely told her that with her Safeway card she would save 3 cents a gallon.  “3 cents!” the lady yelled.. “What the *&$# I am going to do with 3 cents?”  This is where I finally had to ask, “What the hell is wrong with people?”.
After the 3 cents tirade she began a barrage of profanity and berating this young man the likes I have not seen since basic training in the early ’80’s.  The attendant stood silent and took the verbal beating.  Finally, I had enough.  I got out of my car and asked if there was something that I could do to help.  She snapped her head in my direction and told me to mind my own “F'” ing business.  I informed her that she pretty much had made this everyone’s business with her loud attitude.  I asked her to take it easy on this kid.. he’s just pumping gas, doing his job, he doesn’t set the price of gas.  She then warned me to mind my business.  I told the attendant to get his manager and that may he could work something out with this lady.  She told him that he needed to start pumping gas and let loose with a bomb shell of profane words.  As the manager arrived, I turned to her and asked “What the hell is wrong with you”.  The best part of the story is that as she got in her car and drove away.. the back of her car was filled with bumper stickers proclaiming her faith.  “God is my copilot” and “WWJD?”  I am sure he would not have acted like her.
I got home tonight and thought about this incredible day of humanity.  I thought.. naw.. this is just a freak thing… but then I thought, if I saw two of these acts today.. me.. all by myself, how many more are happening everyday all over?
It makes me upset.
What the hell is wrong with people?  At the outset, I assumed that if you read my blog, then you believe in at least parts of the Scout Oath and Law.
“To help other people at all times”, “To do my DUTY to God and my Country”, to be “Helpful, Courteous, and Kind.”  And at the end of the day something that every major religion on Earth preaches.. “To do unto others as you would have done to you”.
Simple.  So what the hell is wrong with people?
I really mean it when I say…
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scouting- A Way of Life

Picked this up along the way.. it still rings true today.
The Scout Oath and Law are a system of principles, and the program of Scouting is the method of making these principles work in the lives of boys.  Let your boys know that the Oath and Law are the rules of the Troop.  Scouting is a great game.  Boys want to know the rules.  When the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law become practical guides for the games, they then become a code to live by.
Keep in mind as you go along that the purpose of Scouting is”‘…to promote,…the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues,…’ by placing emphasis upon the Scout Oath or Promise and Law for Character development, citizenship training, and physical fitness.”
Knowing the purpose of Scouting and the means of achieving it, you will have made a giant stride in the direction of building good men.
Finally, remember that as the first Scoutmaster Handbook put it- “Our purpose in this Boy Scout Movement is not to exploit methods, not to glorify organizations, not to honor Scoutmasters, but to lead boys into useful lives.”
– The New Scoutmaster, Boy Scouts of America, 1958

As much as we all have tried to say this in other words.. that pretty much sums it up.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scouts Own

“Where two or more are gathered in his name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20)
This passage has been stuck in my mind and my heart for some time now.  You see, Church to me is less in the building as it is in the community and in the heart and mind of the believer.  I was dragged into a debate the other day about salvation and church.  I won’t recreate the debate here, but the gist of it was that a coworker of mine seemed to think that if you did not attend one specific church, well than.. you are doomed.
The basis of his argument tended toward the brick and mortar of the church, and in my opinion, less with the matters of the heart.  We agreed on each and every point that should lead us to a good life and a possible salvation, but in the end could not come to resolution on which building we should worship in.
I shared with him the idea that I did not need a church house to be “saved”.  I have everything I need in my heart and mind.  Well this blew his mind.  I talked to him about Scouts own services… held in the woods.  “Can’t be done” he said.. “No substitute for ‘the real thing'” he went on.  I told him that I am a lot more connected with my God when we are out in the woods than I ever have been sitting in the pews at church.  Watching as our young Chaplains Aide conducts the Scouts own service is more spiritual to me than hearing someone go on and on about how I should live my life and oh by the way.. dig deep when the collection plate comes around.
I have heard wisdom beyond their years come from a Scout as he talks about what living the Scout Law means.  I have seen as both young and old men tear up at the sight of Gods majesty as we reflect on his power and wonder sitting at a vista along the trail.  I know God and He knows me and He gets to decide who joins him in heaven.
I have sung praise in snow banks and got on my knees in prayer led by a Scout that does not recite a prayer, but talks to Our Father from the heart.  This is Church… this is where I know God.
We were on a camp out one gorgeous Spring when our Chaplains aide spoke the words, “Where two or more are gathered in his name, there am I among them”.  I looked at one of the Assistant Scoutmasters that was standing next to me, we nodded in agreement.  I then panned the group of Scouts that sat quietly listening to their friend talk about a Scout being Reverent.  I honestly felt the presence of my God right there.
Now I am not saying that churches are not an important part of people’s lives.  But Brick and Mortar buildings only stand to facilitate what goes on inside them.
My coworker is a good Christian man, I am sure that his heart is in the right place.  But sometimes don’t you think the mind should follow.
My sister and I talked the other night about church.  We were both raised in a family that never missed a Sunday.  We believe and participate fully in the sacraments.  As we have aged, we both have spent less time in the building, but our faith has grown stronger.  It was interesting to talk with her about how she feels about this.  There is some guilt about not being in the building, but fundamentally we both feel stronger in our faith.
I suppose I have separated my faith from the business of the church.  I can’t stand the politics and the drama, I refuse to participate in a show.  I want spiritual food and I find that within the context of the Scouts own and my relationship with our Lord.  I have heard some churches refer to the “personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour”.. I have one of them, do I need the building or is two or more of us gathered in His name enough?
It is a debate in the mind now, one that I seem to be winning.  I believe.. sometimes I think the show that runs at 8 and 11 on First street misses the point sometimes.  It’s not a curtain call, its our spiritual well-being that I seek.  I find it in the woods.
This is a heavy topic, I want to know what you think, how you feel.  I don’t want to debate you… but I am interesting in hearing your take on this issue.  Leave a comment.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Can’t or Won’t?

It’s that time of the year again, when we talk about Troop budgets, recharter, and PLC meetings to execute another great year of Scouting.
The other night at our Troop’s committee meeting we looked deep into our budget to see where we could save the Scouts some money.  The discussion led to us never willing to compromise our program because of money.  If we need it, we will find a way to get it.
It was then that I heard a parent say that some of the boy’s “Can’t” come up with that kind of money.  I reminded them that a Scout is Thrifty and that the money is there.. they need to go get it.  Any Scout that fails to participate in Candy sales, Pop corn sales, and Wreath sales, should never complain about not having money.  We have Scouts in the Troop that go out every year and sell enough popcorn to pay their way, if one can.. they all can.
I refuse to buy into the idea that “Times are tough” and so there are no resources out there.  BULL.  We do not live in the most wealthy community.. and still retail spending is up 20% from last year.  Unemployment is down significantly, and yes there are other Scouts that get it done.
So it’s a matter of “Can’t or Won’t”. 
I never allow a Scout to say they “Can’t” do something.  They CAN DO anything they want to.. they need to try and they need to put their minds in a condition that never allows them to give up.  If one person says no to Popcorn, then keep asking the next 10 people that come by.
“Can’t” is not acceptable.  In the world we live in you can do what ever you set you mind to.  Failing yourself when you say “I Can’t” becomes habitual.
Parents that tell their kids that they “Can’t” do a certain thing are not helping.  I have seen to many parents that will not let their kids try.  No matter the condition, “Can’t” is unacceptable.
I have a few autistic Scouts in my Troop.  They CAN do anything they want to.  The sky is the limit.. NOT Autism.
When they try and succeed.. they win and that builds confidence in them.
So when I hear a Scout or the Parent of a Scout say that they can’t afford something, I have to ask.. “Can’t or Won’t”.  There are too many ways for a Scouts to pay his way through Scouting.
Mowing Lawns, Raking leaves, Shoveling Snow, selling Popcorn, Wreaths, or what ever your Troop does, Baby sitting, collecting cans and scrap metal, walking dogs, painting fences, the list goes on and on… and by the way.. this list is a list of some of the things that Scouts in my Troop do to pay their way.
So you Can’t or you Won’t… which is it?

Henry Ford once said, “whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are right!”

 

Have a Great Scouting Day!