Did you have to take Latin when you were in school? They made us take Latin when I was in the military boarding school. (You know, where Mother sent me as a reward for my good behavior.) I wasn't then but now I'm glad that they did make us. Things sound so much better and so much more memorable when said in Latin. At the moment I'm thinking of a Latin phrase that fits what we need to do to be successful in Scouting
If I tell you to go out and recruit more people, you think that you've heard that before. But if I say, "Multorum manibus magnam levatur onus." ("Many hands make labors light.") Well, doesn't that sound more dignified? Isn't that so much more elegant when you say it in Latin?
Whatever your Scouting job, you need to get more people involved. You need to get more help. And people are just waiting for you to ask them. As one ADC told me recently, there are many people, ". . .moving around the edge of the ballroom but have never really danced." They're just waiting for you to ask them to "dance." They want to help but they don't know how. You've got to ask them. You've got to show them how to help. Remember. Multorum manibus magnam levatur onus. ("Many hands make labors light.")
People are saying that things will never be the same. They are saying that since we have been forced to face the reality of possible enemy attack, our lives have been forever changed.
In many respects this is very true. Our denial of the reality of a possible enemy attack did not make it less likely. As this truth has dawned on people, they have returned to the values that Scouting never left. As our Chief Scout Executive, Roy Williams, has pointed out,"People are sewing American flags on their clothing. Flags that Boy Scouts never took off." People have found religion again. Scouting never strayed. Many American are again showing their patriotism. Flags abound. We were always patriotic. So in this way things have changed. And we hope that they will never be the same again.
Another way that things have changed is through fear. Fear is a major weapon of our enemy. To some extent fear is a good thing. It makes us more aware and alert. What we must not do is give in to fear. If we cower in our homes, afraid to go out, afraid to travel, afraid to go about our business, our enemy will have won. They will have achieved their goals.
We teach our Scouts to be brave. If they are to learn this lesson, they must see us brave. Do not let our enemy win. Live your life to the fullest so that our Scouts can see this and follow in our example.
Lord Baden-Powell called Scouting a game with a purpose. In the battle to build a boy's character the opposition has, among other things, video games. You, however, have Baden-Powell's game. If you get your boys to play his game to the fullest, you will surely fulfill our mission – To help boys become good citizens of high moral character who are both physically and mentally fit.
B-P's game as we play it today has three versions: Cubs, Scouts and Ventures Crews. Each of these has age appropriate elements. These are – fun, adventure, camping, advancement, uniforms, leadership participation, and the association with adults of good character.
Be sure you let the boy's play all of the game. Don't pick out bits and pieces and thus invent a game of your own. It is B-P's game that we play in Scouting. It is B-P's game that will make us successful. It is B-P's game, Scouting, that will make it possible for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our mission.
Tomorrow will be populated with boys of good character, who are good citizens, both physically and mentally fit, if you play Baden-Powell's game. Play hard. Play to win. Play the whole game. It is B-P's gift to us. It is your gift to tomorrow. Have fun.
President George W. Bush in his recent address to the Jamboree said, "When you join a Scout troop and put on the Boy Scout uniform, you make a statement. Like every uniform, yours is symbol of commitment. It is a sign to all that you believe in high standards, and that you are trying to live up to them every day. As you do that, you bring credit to the Scout uniform and credit to your country. And I want you to know that your country is proud of you."
The uniform is another of our methods in Scouting. It is part of the romance of Scouting. It is a symbol of our ideals and of the outdoor activities of our movement. Since non-scouts often tease boys today, boys are sometimes reluctant to wear their uniform outside of Scouting activities. Nevertheless, within Scouting a boy likes to have a uniform to wear. It gives him a way to show off the badges that he's earned. It gives him pride in his appearance. It helps him feel he belongs to his troop and his patrol and our great world brotherhood; on the same level as other Scouts. In this way the uniform help foster true democracy with in the pack and the troop. By dressing alike Scouts show that they are equals. The uniform is also a sign to the Scout and to the world that the wearer is a person who can be trusted; a person who can be counted on to lend a hand when help is needed. Dressed as a Scout a boy will want to act as a Scout.
So please make sure that your unit is properly uniformed. Keep a collection of experienced uniforms to help cut down the cost. Conduct money-earning projects so that the boys can earn part of the money for their uniforms. As the leader make sure that you are properly uniformed. Boys won't wear their uniforms if you don't set the example. Make full use of this Scouting method.
In my last article we discussed the fact that the advancement program is a method of Scouting and not an end in itself. We concluded, therefore, that the Board of Review experience must be a positive one if we are to make best use of this method. In this article I'd like us to review the three ways that a Scoutmaster controls and uses the advancement program in his Troop.
The first arena is Merit Badges. Merit badges give a boy a chance to explore new areas. The Scoutmaster must approve all Merit Badge cards before the Scout visits the Merit Badge Counselor. This approval process is the Scoutmaster's opportunity to counsel a boy on the kind of Merit Badges that the boy might take. If a boy is not ready for a particular badge then the Scoutmaster can guide him to something else. This guiding must be used judiciously so as to not to discourage a boy.
The second area of interest is rank advancement. The requirements for every rank include a Scoutmaster's conference. This is the Scoutmasters opportunity to counsel a boy not only on his rank advancement but also on all aspects of his development, particularly Scout Spirit. If a boy is not ready for advancement this is the opportunity to counsel him. If a boy needs improvement at this point he must be told very specifically what he needs to do. Remember this is not an opportunity to retest a boy on any of the requirements. This is the time to discuss his Boy Scout Spirit. Even if the Scoutmaster's conference is to have a negative outcome for the boy it should not be a negative experience. If you have counseled correctly, then he will know that you are on his side and are helping him move forward.
The third and most important aspect of the advancement program is recognition. Some people think that recognition can only be given once for each rank advancement but this is simply not true. On the night that a boy passes his Board of Review an announcement should be made of his achievement. The next week a simple ceremony at a troop meeting will serve to present him with the badge so that he can sew it on his uniform. When I see a Scout who is not wearing the correct rank, I'm lead to believe that you've not recognized him enough for his achievement and made sure he has the badge. A more formal recognition can be made at the quarterly court of honor. Remember the object is to recognize him. Do it often and with due ceremony.
Our aim in Scouting is to develop character, teach citizenship and allow boys to grow in personal fitness. One of the methods we use is the advancement program. All of our methods are designed to increase a boy's desire to stay in Scouting. We cannot achieve our aims if he does not. This was Baden-Powell's original idea. Are you with me so far?
In the advancement program, a boy is tested on requirements often without knowing that he is being tested. When he has been tested, his book is signed or his merit badge card is signed. Once this has happened, he may never be tested on this requirement again. He certainly may not be tested at his board of review. Remember these requirements are part of a method for achieving our aims. They are not an end in themselves. Boards of review may only be held at the unit. This includes boards of review for Eagle Scout. Any of you that may have a different view about this please accept my assurance that you are wrong.
Finally, a board of review must be a positive experience for a boy. It must be fun. It will be a reflection on his Scouting experience. The board of review should be an encouragement for a boy to remain in Scouting. In no case is a boy to be "grilled" or questioned in any but a friendly and kind manner. For a boy to fail a board of review should be such an extraordinary event that you would feel free to call me and explain it. In fact that is exactly what I would like you to do should this unbelievably unlikely event occur. I mean that.
If the boards of review in your unit are not fun, reflective, and positive, please be sure that you make them so immediately. If you feel that you are unable to do this, please separate yourself from the advancement program. If you would like my personal advice on how to do this, please call me. In the next article we will discuss the role that the Scoutmaster plays in Boy Scout advancement through the Scoutmaster's conference and through his leadership in the advancement process
We were on a Troop campout recently and someone asked how much a gallon of water weighed. Immediately my grandson answered, "A pint's a pound and there are eight pints in a gallon, so it must be 8 pounds." The entire saying is, "A pint's a pound the world around, except in shot and feathers." My grandmother had been taught this lesson in school as a young girl in about 1880. Now 120 years later a great-great-grandson she never met knows this lesson. Now that's a lesson well learned.
Are you teaching any lessons that will be passed on generation to generation so that 120 years from now people that you'll never meet will still know those lessons?
I believe that you are. We have been teaching the ideals of Scouting through the Oath and Law for over 90 years. If we do our jobs correctly, then the great-great-grandson of one of our Scouts today will be taught these same ideals by the great-grandson of another of our Scouts. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, these lessons ripple through time. Then 100 years from now they'll say, "On my honor, I will do my best." We're on the right track. Stay the course. We shall prevail
How often have you heard it, "Can't we just do it this way?" Everybody today is looking for shortcuts. "Do we have to have that meeting?" "Can't we just send each other e-mails?" "Do we have to have advancement in the troop?" "Do we have to take the Cubs to day camp?" "Do we have to teach the boys to run their own program?" "Can't we just do it an easier way?" "Can't we just?"
Everybody is looking for the easy way before they've tried anything. To some extent this is understandable. All of us today live busy lives. Our everyday activities are much more active and eventful than our parents ever imagined. We all have more things to do than we'll ever get done. But in seeking shortcuts we often fail to get the job done. In the end we wind up having to do it over. Where we tried to eliminate effort we expended more effort.
In Scouting we have programs. These programs have been designed with the end in mind: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness for our young people. When we take shortcuts with the Scouting programs, we end up shortcutting our young people. When we eliminate part of the program because we think we see an easier way, we eliminate a part of the program that was designed to keep a boy in Scouting. So the next time someone says, "Can't we just?", you tell them, "No we can't." Use the full Scouting program. Take full advantage of all that Scouting has to offer. Don't take shortcuts.
There is no more uncomfortable feeling than to not know what to do or not knowing how to do something. Often in Scouting we encounter a new situation and we don't know how to proceed. We are fettered by our lack of knowledge. We are chained by our lack of training. We are bound by our lack of education. When we lack knowledge and information we feel constrained. Fortunately in Scouting we have resources that can break the chains of ignorance. These resources are the Scouting literature and the Scouting training courses.
Whatever you might be called upon to do in Scouting you can be sure that there is a handbook for that situation or position. Make sure you use the literature of Scouting to break the chains of ignorance. Read the handbooks that are available to free yourself from the constraints that lack of knowledge places upon you.
The same is true of training courses. For every program and for every position there is extensive training available. Fast start training, basic position training and Wood Badge are all part of the training and education offerings. Avail yourself of this training. Take the courses that are offered. The youth of our community are depending on you. Use the training courses that are available to break the chains of ignorance. Free yourself to serve with knowledge and confidence. Break the chains.
When I see Scouts not standing up straight when they say the Pledge of Allegiance, I like to remind them that the red in our nation's flag stands for the blood of patriots who died to preserve our freedom. More and more I find that the problem with this is that our boys today don't have a personal feeling for this concept. Their parents were born during or even after the Vietnam conflict so that for two generations we have had only a limited exposure to the idea of young men going off to war to defend our country.
A recent article in the Reading Eagle commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Korean War and told of the Korean War experiences of a man from Leesport, Jim DeLong. A discussion of this article revealed that the Leesport Cub Pack had undertaken an unusual community service project with this same Jim DeLong. What this Pack did was to go out on Memorial Day and with Jim's help put American flags on the graves of our war dead. Thus the boys in this pack learned in a real way the true meaning of defending our country. Their questions were about the meaning of the different wars and how these effected our country. This turned out to be a moving experience for the boys and for the adults alike.
It is not fashionable these days to talk about patriotism. Yet if we do not teach our boys what it has cost to buy their freedom they won't place a high enough value on their freedom and they may give it away too cheaply. A service project such as the one undertaken by the Leesport Pack may just help to create the foundation for a deeper understanding of just how "the tree of liberty must from time to time be watered by the blood of patriots." Think about what the impact of a similar experience might be on your boys. Perhaps you would like to do a service project similar this.
I've just returned from the National Council meeting, held this year in Nashville, Tennessee. A usual highlight of the National meeting is the Duty to God breakfast. And this year was no exception. The keynote speaker was Dr. Joseph Harris, the General Secretary to the General Commission on Methodist Men. Dr. Harris' message was that when we have Scouting in our church we need to see it as a vital part of our ministry. Scouting is a ministry of our church. It is vital because it helps keep the young people connected to the church. We need to keep this in the forefront of our minds. We can't afford to allow a disconnection between the church and Scouting as a ministry.
There are three important ways that Scouting is an important part of our ministry. First of all, Scouting is important as an outreach to the community. Dr. Harris himself came to the church through the example of his Scoutmaster. The young people who join the Scouting programs chartered to our church and their families will often be unchurched. Secondly, Scouting is an opportunity for intergenerational activities that allow older members to be mentors to younger members. Finally, Scouting offers moral training and discipline as a foundation for life. The Scout Oath and Law become a guiding light for our youth. In Scouting our young people learn to live a moral and ethical life. In Scouting Dr. Harris said, "We are about touching the world." His positive and inspiring message in support of Scouting reminds us all to make Scouting a vital part of our ministry to the youth of our community.
My subject this month is training. I want to be really sure that you get your share. I'd like to be absolutely certain that you get every second of training that you're entitled to. You may readily believe that no organization in the world has more training opportunities for its leaders than Scouting. Your position in Scouting will be made so much easier if you take full advantage of these training opportunities. The extra program dimensions that you will bring back to the youth in your charge will be greatly enhanced if you take all of the training that's available to you.
The most exciting training that's available in Scouting is Wood Badge. The Wood Badge course is advanced leadership training for Pack leaders, Troop leaders, Venture Crew leaders and all District and Council volunteers. It is an experiential training adventure that is second to none.
Courses are being held in neighboring Councils in 2000 and a course will be held at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation in 2001. We especially recommend the course being held in the Susquehanna Council this fall where our good friend Kaylene Trick will be the Scoutmaster. Roger Mory will be the Scoutmaster for our 2001 course. For the sake of your unit and the youth in our community you really must make plans to take the Wood Badge. Your unit should also consider helping unit leaders with the cost of the course.
My challenge to all units is to send at least two people to the Wood Badge. You deserve the very best in training experiences and the course for the Wood Badge is it. Mark your calendar today! Sign up now! Convince your friends to come with you. Two people from each unit - each Pack, Troop and Crew - that's my challenge to you.
The other day I was sitting at the Mall and looking down I realized that I had cut my finger. I know what you're thinking, "Another senior moment." Right? Well, without really thinking about it, I reached into my wallet to get the Band-Aid( that I knew would be there. How did I know it would be there? Because in 30 plus years of Scouting I have taught 100's of Scouts to, "Be Prepared" in this way. In Scouting our motto is, "Be Prepared." In many, many ways the Scouting programs teaches boys to be prepared. It is perhaps our most important task.
The Cub Scout learns to be prepared to help at a den meeting, to help at a pack meeting, to lead the flag ceremony. He learns to be prepared to deal with an emergency and to help out at home. A Boy Scout learns to be prepared to render first aid. He learns to be prepared for a campout or for summer camp by packing his pack. He learns to be prepared to teach a skill to younger Scouts or to lead a Troop meeting. He learns how to plan the meals and buy the food for an outing. A Venture Crew member learns to be prepared to give leadership to a Crew outing or service project. In these and in many other ways we teach our youth to be prepared.
Do you carry a Band-Aid( in your wallet? The next time you see one there let it remind you that one of our most important jobs is to teach our young people to "Be prepared." Return to top.
People often ask us why we devote so much time to our Scouting jobs. Some of the people who ask us these questions are close family members. We need to think about how we answer these questions so that we will give the right impression. In my view, we do what we do in Scouting for three reasons:
1. We believe that a boy should believe in God, believe in his country, and believe in himself. We believe that the best way to accomplish this is through Scouting. We believe the world will be a better place if we make a difference in the life of one boy.
2. We want the values in Scouting to be a vital part of the life of someone we love, perhaps a son, or a grandson.
3. It's fun. The activities are full of fun and adventure. These activities are fun not only for the boys but for the adults involved as well. The people we get to work with are great folks and of like mind with ourselves.
Now in the final analysis, the only thing we can give in this world is our time. Time we give to Scouting is time that we can't devote to our spouses and our families. Time spent in Scouting is time away from our chores at home. Because Scouting is so much fun we sometimes feel guilty about the time we devote to it. But fun is one of the methods of Scouting. If Scouting isn't fun, boys won't be attracted to it. If we could only teach our youth how to enjoy life, it will be the most valuable gift we could give them.
Rather than feel guilty for our service to the brotherhood of Scouting we need to emphasize the first two reasons that we serve. To repeat, these reasons are making the world a better place and the love of a son or grandson. Perhaps if we give these reasons we'll be forgiven the time we devote to this cause.
I conducted an informal survey this summer (PRIVATE). I asked a number of you how you handle finances in your Scout unit. In this survey I asked two questions. First, "How do you take care of the basic financial needs of your unit?" and second , "Do you have the boys pay weekly dues?"
I'm happy to report that in answer to the first question many of you told me that you use the unit budget plan. On the unit budget plan you list all of the expenses that you expect for the year including the cost of summer camp, re-registration and Boys' Life. Then you decide where this money is to come from. Are you going to have money-earning projects? What kind? How many? Are you going to sell popcorn, for example? Are you going to charge dues? How much? Are you going to use the proceeds from these projects to fund summer camp or part of the summer camp fee? Answering all of these questions will help you decide what you want to do. Once you've gone through this process, you have a clear financial plan and a picture of what you plan to do in the coming year. I hope that all of you follow this process. It makes life a lot easier.
On the subject of weekly dues I got a more divergent opinion. Many of you said that you charge annual dues for each boy or family. Your reason for this is that it is a "real pain" to collect weekly dues from the boys. Conversely many of you, while you readily admit that there can be some effort required to collect weekly dues, feel that this is an important part of character building for the boys. Scouting is about inculcating certain values, one of which is, "A Scout is thrifty." By paying weekly dues boys learn to pay their own way as they go. They learn the value of money. For younger boys parents can provide the money based on weekly chores at home. Older boys can earn their weekly dues outside of the home. Thus having the boys pay weekly dues is a tool that we can use to teach boys some of the values we want them to learn. That just might be worth a little trouble and a little "pain in the"
Some of you appear to be standing guard at the gate. Like good guards you are not letting anyone pass who does not have the correct password. When someone appears at the gate who does not have the correct password, you send them away. The treasure that you believe you are guarding is the Sacred Advancement Requirements. You believe that you must guard the gate to make sure that no boy advances unless he has met the requirements 110%. Your watchword is, "We've gotten soft on the Boy Scout advancement."
The problem is that you have gotten your orders wrong. You are guarding the wrong side of the gate. The treasure is not behind the gate but in front of it. The treasure is the character of the boys in our care. Your duty is not to prevent boys from passing through but to make sure as many boys as possible do pass through. Advancement is a method, a tool if you will, that we use in Scouting. It is not an end in itself. The purpose of the system is to build a boy's confidence and self-esteem. A boy learns something new, he is tested in that skill, he is reviewed, and he is given advancement. Whenever possible the test should be a natural part of the unit's program. For example, if the requirement is to cook a meal, the test should come when it's time to eat at the regular unit outing. Remember that we are not authorized to either add to or subtract from any requirement. The review is to be a reflection on a boy's experience in Scouting, not a retest. The advancement recognition must come as soon after the review as possible. Some of you may have heard that advancement recognition can only be received once. I assure you that is not true. Recognition can be made several times and more is better. Advancement is to be positive reinforcement for a boy's achievements. If done properly it encourages a boy to even more advancement and toward greater confidence in himself. So stand clear of the gate. Guard it no more. Gather the boys in your unit and lead them through the gate. The world will be a better place tomorrow.
The forces of evil are loose in the world. The proof of this is all around us. The recent tragic events in Littleton, Colorado and the reactions to these events are one reminder. Our opinion poll reading political leaders have the rectitude of a weather vane in a tornado. The Boy Scouts are being sued to force us to relinquish our moral principals. The news media celebrates these happenings and happily promotes them. It was summed up nicely for me by Thomas Sowell who recently wrote: "[I]t is truly galling to have those who have been undermining both morality and parents for years now demand that parents be held legally responsible for the acts of their children."
Yes, the forces of evil are loose in the world but they are not winning no matter what you might read in the papers or see on the television news. For the victories of the forces of good are silent and unreported by the news media. It has been thirty-five years since I last visited Littleton, Colorado. Yet I vividly remember the view as you look West and see the majesty of God's handy work in the vistas of the Rocky Mountains.
Many of us also see our children, our grandchildren, and the youth of our community as God's handy work and we are determined to preserve their future. We have determined that we will use Scouting as one of the ways that we will seek to mold the character of our young people. In this we have our silent victories. As an example I point to the recent Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner where we celebrated our most recent Eagle Scouts and listened as they recited their accomplishments and told us about their Eagle projects. For over an hour boy after boy, sixty-four in all, stood before us and told of the stunning tasks that they had undertaken for the betterment of their community. "I painted my neighbor's house." "I built a bridge." "I built a playground." In their matter-of-fact recitations are the sounds of our victory.
It is not about guns or television shows or the lyrics to popular songs. It is about giving our youth a moral compass to steer by. Baden-Powell told us that the one sure hope for the future of the world depended upon youth that lived by the Scout Oath and Law and that believed in themselves, believed in God and believed in their country. It is toward that end that we labor. And we are winning. We can only lose if we despair. The forces of evil that are aligned against us know that the possibility of despair is our only weak point. That is why they have set their propaganda machinery in motion. But we can hear the silent victories. We can see it in the smiling faces of our young people as they raise their hands in the Scout sign and give heartfelt rendition of the Scout Oath and Law. We can hear it in their laughter. Do not despair. We are winning. And we will win
In the Epping Forest some 35 miles from center city London is a Scout Camp. The camp was given to the British Scout Association and to Baden-Powell by a Scottish District Commissioner, W.F. deBois Maclaren, as a training center. The name of this camp is Gilwell Park. On the morning of September 8, 1919, a 61 year old retired general of the British Army, Robert S.S. Baden-Powell, the founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, stepped into a clearing at Gilwell Park. He raised to his lips the horn of the greater kudu, one of the largest of the African antelopes. He blew a long, sharp blast as he had done at Brownsea Island. Thus was assembled the first Scoutmasters' training course. At the conclusion of this training B-P wanted to recognize the leaders who had taken the training. To do this he cut apart a necklace of wooden beads that he had found in Dinizulu's deserted hut during the Zulu War in 1888. He presented each of the Scouters with one of these beads on a leather thong.
Today we know this training course for Scoutmasters and other Scout leaders as Wood Badge. Since that first course in 1919 thousands from all around the world have answered the call of the kudu. It is the recognized bond of fellowship among Scouters everywhere. It is a demonstration of Scouting at its best. In September this year I was at Gilwell Park for the annual Wood Badge Reunion. There were over 600 men and women from many of the countries that have Scouting.
The Wood Badge training is the ultimate in Boy Scout leader training. Studies have shown that when the leaders have taken part in this training the boys in their units stay in Scouting longer and advance further than the boys in units where the leaders have less training. And if they stay longer we have a better chance to influence their character. You can participate in this training. You can become a Wood Badger. Wood Badge Course NE-IV-III will be held at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation this fall over three weekends. For the sake of the boys in your unit, heed the Kudu call. Sign up today. Come to Gilwell. I'll see you there.
Do you hear the echo? When you go to your Troop or Pack meeting, do you hear an echo of that first Scout Camp at Brownsea Island? Do you here the sounds of young boys having fun? Baden-Powell's idea was that if we provided a program that was fun, the boys would want to be involved and we would have a chance to influence their character. Baden-Powell once said:
"I like to think of a man trying to get boys to come under good influence as a fisherman trying to catch fish. If he baits his hook with the kinds of food he likes himself; it is probable that he will not catch many. He therefore uses as bait food that the fish likes. So with boys: if you try to preach to them what you consider elevating mater, you won't catch them. The only way is to hold out something that really attracts and interests them."
So if you're doing it right, you'll hear the echo that I heard a few months ago as I stood on the spot on Brownsea Island in England where Baden-Powell held the first Scout camp. Down through the years, if you listen very carefully you can hear that sound of laughter and fun. Listen at your next Pack or Troop meeting. Do you hear that sound? Do you hear that echo?
If you meetings are built on fun and adventure, an outdoor program, and Boy's Life, then you'll do OK. If your program is fun for the boys, then it will attract boys and they'll want to stay around. Then you'll be able to influence their character. You'll hear the echo of that first Scout camp from long ago.
I met a Scouting family this summer. It was on the ferry boat we took to Brownsea Island in England. The family consisted of mother, father, a little girl about 11 and a boy 9. The mother is Akela (the same as our Cubmaster) in the 1st Drayton Scout Group. The father is a member of the group committee. The little girl is very proud of being in her first year in the Scouts and the boy is in the Cubs. The wonderful thing to me was that here I was an ocean away from home and I'm meeting people who were working on the same thing that hundreds of families here in the Hawk Mountain Council are working on. They are working to inculcated in their young people the values that they think are most important; values that are important for our youth to carry them into adulthood.
The world over men and women, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers are working together to give our young people a gift. That gift is a love of God, country, and self. We give this gift so that they can become happy, useful and productive citizens of their community, their country and the world. We give this gift to enable them to live up to the duty that they owe to God, country and self.
In this country we have not yet reached the point were our little girls can join our Scout Troops. We have, however, reached the point where men and women are working together in Scouting; working together to achieve a common goal. I mention this because I recently talked with some people who apparently believe otherwise. They believe that we have some gender specific positions in Scouting. It is not so. It has not been so for some time. Those who believe otherwise need to be taking a peek at their calendars. It is not 1948. It is not 1968. Nor is it 1988. Time marches on. It is 1998. The new millennium is upon us and we need to be sure that the youth of the Hawk Mountain Council, and of the world, are prepared. What is important is we train our young people to uphold the values of good citizenship that we hold dear. What is important is women and men work together on this important task
It may surprise you to learn that I visited a couple of Scout camps this summer. Imagine me doing that! The first camp had been closed for some time when I visited. The camp director had the idea that if boys could be engaged in activities that were fun and exciting that he could hold their interest long enough to teach them something. He thought that he could help develop their character. He thought that he could teach them to keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. He thought that he could help them develop a belief in God, a belief in their Country and a belief in themselves. If only if only the program that he used at this camp was exciting enough. Of course, we now know that he was right. This camp's director had been none other than Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, the founder of Scouting, and the camp I visited was Brownsea Island in England where Baden-Powell held the first Scout Camp for 20 boys in August 1-9, 1907. The ideas that he developed are just as valid today as they were over 90 years ago. If the program is exciting enough and is enough fun, we can hold a boy's interest long enough to have the opportunity to mold his character.
The second camp I visited was our own Cub Scout Day Camp. On the day I took my grandson to Day Camp it rained all day. (Yes, I know. That's hard to believe, too.) Some of the boys were having fun. Some of them were not. The boys who seemed to be having fun were with adults who did not complain about the rain. The boys that were upset by the weather were with adults who were not having fun simply because it was raining. So here we have the opportunity to teach boys something. Some adults chose to teach boys that you can have fun no matter what the physical circumstances. Others chose to teach boys that happiness is something that comes from circumstances beyond your control. Thus, if you're positive, your Scouts will be positive. If you're negative, your scouts will always see the dark side of things. Baden-Powell was right. Scouting gives us an opportunity. We can use that opportunity to teach boys the most valuable lesson they could learn. That lesson is to enjoy life. That lesson is that we can enjoy life if we choose to. This is the lesson in "A Scout is cheerful". Or we can teach Scouts that even some trivial outside factors like a little rain can adversely affect our happiness and that we have no control over it. The choice is yours. You can use the opportunity that Baden-Powell has given us anyway that you will. My hope is that you will give our boys a gift of the wisdom to enjoy life to its fullest.
Have you been to Philmont? Have your Scouts been to Philmont? Philmont is the ultimate fulfillment of the adventure we promise a boy when he joins Scouting. I was at Philmont in June and I was moved to write the following:
I was at camp for part of the Order of the Arrow Weekend recently. I was enjoying the company of many of you and I got to thinking about what we have to do to recruit adult leaders. We never seem to have enough people involved, even though we have over 4,000 adult volunteers, in the Hawk Mountain Council. Part of the process in recruiting someone to be a new leader in our movement is to sell them on the benefits of devoting their time to Boy Scouts. All of us have excellent reasons. We must have, and really good ones, or you wouldn't be reading this now. However, when we're talking to somebody that we're trying to recruit, we often stumble and can't think of good reasons for someone to join us.
One reason that I think is often overlooked, is the comradeship that we experience with other leaders. Of the hundreds of leaders that I come in contact with, most are truly wonderful people. We all share a common belief that we can help a boy as he grows into manhood. We share a common bond in the belief in the Scout Law and the Scout Oath. The fellowship of Scouting Spirit is truly a treasure. The wonder is that we forget to tell people about this treasure when we're asking them to join us. Think of that the next time you're on a recruiting mission. It just might make the difference.
Scouting is a training program. It is our job to train a boy to deal with the world to the best of his ability. We believe that a boy is best equipped to do that if he believes in God, his country and himself. In order for this to happen you and the other leaders in your unit have to be trained.
Scouting has an extensive leader training program. In fact Scouting may have one of the most extensive training program for its leaders of any organization in the world. Beginning with Fast Start training you progressed to either Cub Leader Basic or Scoutmastership Fundamentals. For leaders involved with the Boy Scouting program there is even more exciting and extensive training ahead. This training is Wood Badge. Wood Badge is an experiential training event that takes place over either a week or over three weekends. During this time the skills of leadership and the skills of Scout craft are present in a typical troop setting. And typical of Scouting, it's fun! It's our law, don't you know?
Wood Badge training is offered throughout the Northeast Region every year and it's offered in the Hawk Mountain Council every two years. Our next course is in the fall of 1999. I like to issue a challenge to every Boy Scout Troop in the Council. Send at least one member of your troop's leadership to Wood Badge in 1999. Start planning for this now. Help with the training fee, if you can. Everyone benefits from this. The boys will have better trained leaders who will be better able to mold their character. And what do we have for the leader who takes the training? He or she will have more fun than you can readily imagine. One leader from every troop! Can you do it? It's my challenge to you!
Scouting is not the place for winning and losing. Scouting is not a place for competitive events. Remember that in Scouting we are trying to build self confidence. This is one of our aims. When we set up situations where someone wins, then we have a situation where everyone else loses. In Scouting our programs are designed so that all of our Scouts can be winners. In advancement, for example, boys compete with themselves against a standard. All who surpass the standard advance in rank. Thus, all are winners. Thus, all receive positive reinforcement. Let me give a ridiculous counter-example to illustrate my point. Suppose we said that each troop could only have one Eagle Scout award per year. Thus, the first boy to reach Eagle would get the award, all the others would have to wait until next year. Would boys participate willingly in such a program? Some would but most would likely not.
Some of you would argue that it is important to have competition because it teaches about life. And it is true that competition is very much a part of our lives. But our aim is not to teach a boy about life. Our aim is to prepare a boy for a better life by helping build his character, by helping develop a belief in God, by helping him develop a belief in his country and, above all, by helping him develop a belief in himself. If in losing, his interest in Scouting flags, he will not be around for us to influence anything. If in losing, he loses self confidence, we will have failed in one of our aims. Let others teach him about competition. There are many who would take up the task. Let us take as our task to teach him to be a winner. Let us be called to strengthen the inner man that is to be by building inner confidence in the boy now. This is the Scouting program. This is the Scouting way!
In Scouting we believe that a boy should believe in God, should believe in his country, and should believe in himself. We try to develop activities that will help a boy grow and that will help him become confident in his own ability. Unfortunately, if you tell boys that you've got a program that will help them develop a belief in God, country, and self, boys will stay away in droves.
However, we don't have to try to come up with a plan for how to attract and keep boys. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, worked that out long ago. His plan had four elements. These are: fun, adventure, advancement, and a safe haven. Fun and adventure are the two shinning stars that initially attract boys. They are part of the glue that keeps boys sticking to Scouting. Advancement is also an element that holds a boy in Scouting. Working toward fixed goals, a boy receives recognition and positive reinforcement when he achieves these goals. This is a powerful force in keeping a boy involved in Scouting activities. Last, but by no means least, in Scouting a boy is among friends who will never mistreat him and who will always treat him with courtesy and kindness. Having such a safe haven is an invaluable magnet whose pulls holds a boy in Scouting.
Having a boy attracted to Scouting and having him remain in Scouting gives us a chance to influence his character. It gives us a chance to help him develop his belief in God. It gives us an opportunity to help him develop a belief in his country. And it gives him a opportunity to develop confidence in himself and his ability to deal with the world. Thus, for your Scouting unit to be successful, you must make sure that fun and adventure are the substance of you unit's activities. You must make sure that your unit has a strong advancement program with every boy advancing every year. It is especially important that first year Boy Scouts reach First Class in their first year. Finally, you must be sure that your unit is a safe haven. There must be no teasing nor hazing. Every adult he meets must be friendly and kind. Nor can this be a sometimes thing. It must be all the time -- every time. Fun, adventure, advancement, and a safe haven are the tools that you can use. A hundred years from now the world will be a better place if you use these to give a boy the gift of a belief in God, country and himself.
The following poem, based on the song, "Ballad of the Green Beret," by Sgt. Barry Sadler, was written by Mike Reichart and is intended to be sung to the same tune. It captures, as well as anything I've ever heard, the true spirit of Scouting.
As I watched the Scouts arrive at the Jamboree and set up their thousands of tents, it occurred to me that Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, the founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, was a genius. And the fruits of his genius are our inheritance today. The thing that allows us to operate a Scout troop is the inherent organizational structure. A Scoutmaster has a number of assistants to help train the boy leaders. The trained boy leaders then run the troop, handling the bulk of the work, coached and mentored by the adults. This is the structure that Baden-Powell used at the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island in the summer of 1907. One of the exhibits at the Jamboree was a re-enactment of that first Scout camp on Brownsea Island. It was awe inspiring to see how little had changed in 90 years in the basic structure of Scouting. It was very exciting to see boy leadership in action just as B-P used it so long ago. B-P also used the same organization for the Boy's Patrol at Mafeking. This idea of boy leadership is our inheritance from Baden-Powell. It was his genius.
Be sure to use your inheritance wisely and don't squander it by not using it. Let the boys run the troop and use the leadership skills that you've taught them. Being able to lead their own affairs is one of the things that attracts boys to Scouting. It also one of the activities that helps to builds their self-confidence, something that we're trying to accomplish in Scouting. Return to top.
The time for summer camp is upon us. As the weather gets warmer, we'll do more and more camping and hiking. The more time we spend out of doors with our Scouts, the more time we have to observe their behavior. And there is one thing that we need to keep in mind. A boy's behavior is our golden opportunity. Scouting is an educational adventure. We've chosen camping as our venue because this draws boys to Scouting like a magnet. Because of the fun and adventure of camping, boys come willingly into our classroom. And what do we teach? We teach citizenship. We teach strength of character. We teach self-confidence. We teach leadership. Our teaching method is to put boys into situations where they can learn by their own experiences and, if possible, by their own mistakes. Your job as a Scout leader is to be the tutor in this classroom. You must observe a boy's behavior. If the behavior that you see is what you like, you need to reinforce it so that the boy will repeat it in the future. If the behavior that you observe is not behavior that you would like to see repeated then you need to let the boy know that also.
In either case it is important that you react to the boy's behavior with kindness and friendship. The boys are looking to you to help them develop. It will not help if you become overly emotionally involve in the process. If you let anger get in the way of helping a boy to understand what he must do to develop his character, you will have missed an opportunity to help a boy grow. Be patient. In time your efforts will be rewarded and the boy will grow in the direction you have pointed. Cherish the moments and the opportunities that are given to you. Use each to the best of your ability.
"What should my little boy take on the campout?" This is a question that many Scout leaders have heard from the mothers and fathers of their Boy Scouts. The answer is, "Whatever he thinks is appropriate." If he doesn't take the right stuff this time, we can be sure that, if he had the responsibility for packing his gear this time, he'll get it right the next time. The reason that we take Boy Scouts camping is not so that they can have a good time (although they almost always do..) but so that they can learn about themselves and about what they are capable of. This kind of experience is age appropriate for 11, 12 and 13 year old boys. Boy Scout leaders are trained to handle this kind of situation. The structure and organization of a Boy Scout Troop lends itself to having a large number of boys in a camping situation. Camping is a venue where we can influence a boy and the development of his character.
Camping, except at Scout camp, is not age appropriate for Cub Scout aged boys. Boys age 6, 7, and 8 are not ready to take responsibility for themselves in the out of doors. Cub Scout leaders are not trained to handle a large number of boys in a camping situation. The organization of the Cub Pack does not lend itself to controlling boys while camping. Webelos Scouts, however, can go on an overnight campout, if the ratio of adults to boys is one to one. That is, one adult for each boy.
It is important that we keep this distinction between Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in mind if we are going to provide a quality program for our young people. This is why tour permits will not be given for Cub Scouts to camp overnight nor would Scouting's insurance be in force for a Cub Scout overnight campout
One of the secrets of the success of Scouting is that we never stop recruiting adult leaders. The more people that we recruit the lighter the load is on all of us. Thus we are always looking for more Assistant unit leaders. We're always looking for more committee members. We're always looking for more commissioners. No matter how many people we have on board, helping with the cause, we still look for and actively recruit more people to help.
As we go about the task of recruiting there is one other thing that has to be pointed out. We have no gender specific positions in Scouting. It seems strange to have to point this out in 1997 but apparently we do. Any position in Scouting can be filled by either a female or a male. Thus, when we are seeking a someone for any position in Scouting we need to make sure that we look for both male and female qualified candidates. Itís hard enough to find volunteers today without limiting ourselves to either all female or to all male candidates. Therefore, when the job of recruiting falls to you, please make sure you think about all of the people who might help
When Captain Jim Lovell visited the Hawk Mountain Council recently and described how he and his crew managed to bring their damaged space ship back to earth, my good friend Deborah Maier was moved to pen these lines:
Boys vote with their feet to tell you how they like the Scouting program in your unit. I tell you if those feet are "hiking" then those boys will be voting to stay in your unit. By "hiking" I mean any activity or adventure that the boys consider to be fun. Usually, though, if there is an outing involved then the boys will consider it to be fun. In a Scout Troop it's easy to determine what the Scouts consider fun. Since they're planning the activities (They are planning the activities, aren't they?), it stands to reason that they'll plan something that they think will be fun. Wow, what a concept! In a Cub Pack you have to think like a 9 year old. This should not be difficult for any of our adult male leaders, as any female leader will gladly tell you. You might also ask the boys.
You get the idea. If Scouting is fun, boys will stay in. They'll vote with their feet and stay in your unit. If they stay in then you'll have an opportunity to influence their character. If Scouting is not the adventure that we promised, then boys will not stay in. They'll vote with their feet to leave the unit. I think that you agree logically, that if their not in Scouting, we have no chance to help develop their character. We'll have no chance to help them grow, mentally, physically, and morally straight.
So I ask you, how are the boys voting in your unit? Are their feet walking in or are they walking out? If "out" is your answer, fix the problem with a more exciting program. Take your boys "hiking."
Your Unit Commissioner is not a spy for the District and Council. The Unit Commissioner's job is to help your unit succeed. The way for them to prove that to you is to actually help you. One of the ways that your Unit Commission can help you succeed is by showing you how to achieve the 1997 National Quality Unit Award.
For 1997 some of the award criteria have been changed. To earn the National Quality Unit Award a Pack, Troop, Team. or Post must achieve 6 of the 10 National Quality Unit Award criteria. Four of these criteria are required. These are: 1. Leadership Training; 2. Two-Deep Leadership; 3. On Time Charter Renewal; and for Pack, Troops and Teams 4. Outdoor Activities; for Posts 4. Officers. Most of the award criteria can be worked on all year. One of the items though must be done at charter renewal time. For most of our units this will be in March. The item that must be done at charter renewal time is "On Time Charter Renewal" (What this is speaks for itself.) Applications for the 1997 National Quality Unit Award will be in your charter renewal kits. The exact requirements are detailed on the application. Units should consider the National Quality Unit Award a minimum criteria for unit excellence.
Contact your Unit Commissioner today and together make sure your unit achieves this award.
In 1937 Baden-Powell, at 81, wrote... "It has been said that youth is fortified by hope and old age is soothed by content. Youth looks forward with hope, old age looks round with content, and some day, when I grow old, I am going to look round with great content. In the meantime you who are not over eighty-one must go on with the work you are doing; there couldn't be better work, and you will be earning your old-age pension of content when you will be able to look back with satisfaction on having done a work that is worth while. And to the younger ones I say press forward with Hope; mix it with optimism and temper it with the sense of humour which enables you to face difficulties with a sense of proportion. Press forward with a Faith in the soundness of the Movement and its future possibilities, and press forward with Love which is the most powerful agent of all. That spirit of love is, after all, the spirit of God working within you. Remember, 'Now abideth Faith and Hope, and Love -- these three. But the greatest of these is Love.' Carry on in that spirit and you cannot fail."
The work that you do in Scouting is shaping the future of the youth of America and the youth of America will shape the future of the world. May God bless you at this holiday season as He has blessed you to be a blessing to the world. Return to top.
Measure the fun that your unit is having. That is the measure of your success. Why is that? The reason is very simple. No boy ever stepped forward and asked for his character to be developed. Yet that is exactly our aim. We want to develop his character. How do we accomplish this? How do we attract young people to our programs and keep them interested? We do this by making Scouting fun. As long as the program is fun, Scouts will stay involved. The longer they stay involved, the longer we have to try to influence them in a positive way. This is the secret of Scouting. Rudyard Kipling wrote:
Now the four-way lodge is opened,
Now the hunting winds are loose
Now the smokes of spring go up to clear the brain;
Now the young men's hearts are troubled
For the whisper of the trues,
Now the red gods make their medicine again
Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight?
Who hath heard the birch-log burning?
Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
Let him follow with the others,
For the young men's feet are turning
To the camps of proved desire and known delight!
Make sure that your programs visit "the camps of proved desire and known delight!" In this way you're sure to be a success.
Recruiting is a year around job. Do you have a year around plan in your unit? As you read this we will have just finished with school night. All of our Cub Packs will have gotten an influx of new boys. In the spring we had a crossover graduation of Webelos into our Scout Troops and all of these boys went to summer camp. (Well, they did, didn't they?) This means that we can forget about recruiting for the rest of the year until it's that timeagain, right? As you might guess, since I'm asking, that that answer is WRONG! As I said when I started, recruiting is a year around job. And what can we be doing, you ask with eager anticipation? Well, the first thing you can do is to have a slam bang jolly program in your unit so that you'll keep the boys that you have and their brothers will want to join when they're old enough. And you'll be involve the parents so that they understand the value of Scouting and want, really want, their boys to stay in Scouting.
If you're in a Scout Troop, now is the time to establish really good relationships with the Webelos leaders. This is not something to be done in the spring. It needs to be done week in and week out all year. Invite these boys to your meetings and to visit you on your campouts. Since Webelos need parents with them on the campouts, this is a good time to start recruiting the parents. You can also make sure that the Cub Pack has all of the Den Chiefs that they want and need. Not only does this help the Pack leaders but it provides a good leadership experience for the boys involved.
If you're in a Cub Pack, recruiting can be an all year program for you, too. Do you have some way to reach new families moving into your neighborhoods? Do you ask the parents of the members of your Pack to invite some of their boy's playmates who don't happen to be in the Pack to some of the events? Do you have someone on your Pack Committee whose job it is to work on recruiting?
Fall is a good recruiting time but all year plans work the best. Remember, if boys are not in the program, we can't influence their character. So make sure your unit is an all year recruiter.
Daryl Singletary in his hit Country/Western song "Too Much Fun" sings, "I don't care what anybody says I've done, I ain't never had too much fun." I was reminded of this song the other day when I was talking to my grandson about his experience at Cub Scout day camp. Have you ever been to day camp with your Cub Scouts? I was able to go up to camp this year with my grandson and his Wolf den for two whole days. What a blast! All day we went from one fun activity to another. Unless you've done that you can't imagine how much fun that was a seven year old and his seven year old, in spirit, grandfather. Wow!!
This is the kind of thing that binds boys to Scouting. When they go do something where they have fun all day, for five days in a row, then that kind of activity is the kind that keeps boys in Scouting. And it is during these activities that we get to interface with the boys and we get to influence their character. But they're having so much fun they don't even notice what we're doing. This is the secret to Scouting!
What reminded me of Daryl Singeltary's song was that my grandson said when I asked him how he liked day camp, "Grandpop, I think I had too much fun!" So maybe, just maybe, you can have too much fun. Why don't you plan now to make sure your Cubs get to day camp next year? While you're at it, why don't you make plans to go yourself. Adults are allowed to have fun. Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll have too much fun
A boy's behavior is our golden opportunity. Our aim in Scouting is to improve, as much as we can, a boy's character. And that is why the summer months in Scouting are so important. During these months we get to spend a great deal of time with our Scouts; more time than usual; more time than during the rest of the year. We get to observe how our boys react to the various situations that we place them in. All of these activities are the cauldron in which we mix the life experiences that shape a boy's character.
However, we can't be just passive onlookers and observers of what a boy is doing and how he's doing it. We need to react. We need to interact with him. That's why his behavior is our opportunity. It's our moment to let him know that we've seen what he's done. If he's done the things we want him to do, then we need to let him know about this. A boy will advance farther with praise for what he's done right than he ever will being damned for what he's done wrong. As my Grandmother used to say, "More flies are won with honey than with vinegar." So when you see behavior that you approve of, be sure to let the boy know, specifically, what you saw and liked.
If he's done something wrong, that's the time for the friendly, helpful coach in you to come out. When boys have come out on the wrong end of a situation, that's the time they need and want a friend. At the same time they can do without your anger. What is needed is your help. A boy's behavior is an opportunity, that moment of gold that the whole Scouting experience is set up to give you. Make the best of these opportunities
My good friend Dr. Dwight "Doc" Davis led me down a garden path the other day. He asked, "Do you remember Little Orphan Anne's dog?"
"Yes," I answered.
"Do you remember his name?" he asked.
"Was it Sandy?" I asked, wondering where he was going with all of this.
"That's right. It was Sandy. And do you remember what Sandy was always saying?"
"That's right, ARF. And do you know what ARF stands for?" "Doc" asked.
"No," I replied, sticking tighter to the web he wove.
"ARF. All Rules are Flexible."
Now that's something for us all to keep in mind as we all work together to develop the character of our young people. We need to remember that "A Scout is Friendly." We need to remember that "A Scout is Courteous." We need to remember that "A Scout is Kind." We need to be flexible with each other.
We also need to remember that the aim of our movement is not great weekend trips. The aim of our movement is not super troops. Our goal is not to have the best pack in the world. Our aim is to give each of our young people the very best opportunity to develop their character to the fullest. To accomplish this we need to work together to the greatest extent possible and to treat each other as flexibly as possible. Personal squabbles have no place in the Scouting Movement.
Try to keep this in mind. Try to keep your minds and hearts on the big picture. As our founder, Lord Baden-Powell, said, "Most of us who have been sowing the seed will not, in the nature of things, be here to see the harvest; but we may well feel thankful, indeed jubilant, that our crop is already so well advanced..."
What in the world is a Key 7 Review? Let's talk first about what it is not first. The Key 7 Review is not an inspection of your unit. It is not the village inquisition. What it is, is an opportunity for you and the other leaders in your unit to discuss your plans for the future with the district leadership. It is an opportunity for you to influence the kind of service that you'll get from the district. The Key 7 Review is a meeting between the key unit leadership and the key district leadership. From the unit the key unit leadership is the Unit leader, i.e, the Cubmaster, the Scoutmaster or the Advisor, along with the Chairman, and the Chartered Organization Representative. The head of the Chartering institution might also attend. For the district the attendees are the Unit Commissioner, the District Chairman, the District Commissioner and the District Executive.
At this meeting I expect that you'll discuss the history of your unit and your plans for its future. You should expect that you'll also discuss how the district can help you achieve your goals for the future.
Thus the Key 7 Review is an opportunity for the unit leadership and the district leadership to influence the future of the unit. It is an opportunity for both the unit and the district to make sure that everything is being done to bring Scouting to the youth of your community. Make the most of this opportunity
Several years ago Scouting instituted a program change called the Troop Operations Plan. This plan had several elements. The first was the idea that all new boys joining the troop would be placed in the new boy's patrol. The second element was the establishment of a new boy leadership position, the Troop Guide. It is the Troop Guide's job to help the new boys. The next element was the position of Assistant Scoutmaster for the new boys. The Assistant Scoutmaster's job is to coordinate all of these activities and to be a liaison with the Cub Pack. The final element was the idea that it would be our goal to have each new boy attend summer camp during his first year and attain the rank of first class in his first year.
While these ideas may be new to many, they represent what many very successful Scoutmasters had been doing for years. All of these ideas were supported by data that came from exit interviews of boys who left Scouting after just a short period of time. One of the things that these boys mentioned was that they were picked on and bullied by the older boys. Thus one of the jobs of the Troop Guide is to see that this doesn't happen in his troop. In addition, studies have shown that boys who attend summer camp in their first year and reach 1st Class in their first year have a significantly longer tenure in Scouting.
All of this ties together to make Scouting in your troop stronger and to give you a longer opportunity to influence the lives of the boys in your care. Please make sure that The Troop Operations Plan is operational in your Troop. The Troop Operations Plan is not an optional program element. It is an essential one.
Boys' Life (March 1996)
There is something that I'd like you to do. Is your unit 100% Boys' Life? I certainly hope so. 100% Boys' Life means that every household in your unit receives a copy of Boys' Life.
There are a number of reasons for wanting to have all of your boys be subscribers to Boys' Life. First of all, boys that take Boys' Life stay in Scouting two years longer than boys who don't. That's two years longer to influence their character that you wouldn't otherwise have. Boys' Life subscribers advance in rank faster and more often than boys who don't. The boys who get Boys' Life are more active in their unit, district, and council events than boys who don't. Boys like reading Boys' Life. As Jere B. Ratcliffe, our Chief Scout Executive, has pointed out, "Each month, Boys' Life brings to our Scouts a wonderful and exciting world of reading, with articles that help them to become better Scouts. Because Boys' Life goes into the Scout's home it brings greater parental and sibling understanding and support of Scouting activities. Get the family involved in Scouting -- through Boys' Life. Make Boys' Life a part of your unit's Scouting program. Make your unit 100% Boys' Life.
I'd like to talk to you today about your Unit Commissioner. Early in the Scouting movement, Baden-Powell found that many unit leaders were having difficulty learning what their jobs were and how the Scouting movement was supposed to work in influencing the character of the boys who joined. To help him make the Scouting movement grow he appointed a County Commissioner for each county. These were the first commissioners in Scouting. Their job then was the same as is the job of a commissioner today; to help a unit prosper. In order to accomplish this the Unit Commissioner visits the units to which he or she is assigned. They try to keep the unit in touch with what's happening in the District and in the Council. They try to keep their eye out for problems and provide the help that a unit needs to weather any storm that might arise. In short they try to be a resourceful friend to their Packs, Troops and Posts.
In order to be prepared to do this important job the Unit Commissioner usually has considerable experience in Scouting. They take special training and attend special conferences to help them prepare to help you in your Packs, Troops and Posts.
Thus we see that your Unit Commissioner is important to the health and growth of your unit. They are there to help you provide a strong program for boys in your Pack or Troop, or for the young people in your Post. In this way your Unit Commissioner is your ally to help you so that you will be able to influence the character and personal growth of these young people. Why don't you say a hearty thanks to your Unit Commissioner the next time you see her or him? If you're not sure who your Unit Commissioner is, give your District Commissioner a call
I don't care what anyone tells you, there is no such organization in Scouting as the "Uniform Police." It is one thing for a Scout Troop to decide that for the sake of uniformity, they are going to all wear a certain cap. It is all very well for them to decide on a particular neckerchief. Troops should decide which of the uniform options they are going to adopt. This is an important use of the method we use in Scouting called the Uniform.
There are some people who, however, have read the Uniform Guide. They believe that it is a revelation from on high. They develop a myopia that has them convinced that their copy was carved in stone before the beginning of recorded time. They will delight in telling you that such and such a patch must be worn 3 millimeters to the left of where you happen to be wearing it. Get a life! Our aim in Scouting is to develop character, citizenship and personal fitness. We should not waste our energy on anything that doesn't help us toward that goal. And there is no logic which postulates that moving that patch one millimeter will further the cause.
So, the next time you run into someone who thinks they're a member of the "Uniform Police," demand identification. When they can't produce it, make helpful suggestions about things they should do to get on with their life and be a help to the Scouting movement.
The Christmas season will soon be upon us. It is the custom to give gifts at this time of year and many of you are, no doubt, wondering what I'm going to give you this year. You must wonder no longer. You'll not have to wait. Right here and now I'm going to tell you about this year's present. My gift comes in three parts.
The first part is knowledge. Knowledge is a gift that once received, it can only be used or not used. It can't be broken or thrown away. Knowledge of the ways of Scouting comes in many forms. We have training for almost every aspect of Scouting. We have so much training that "We'll get you training," is almost a cliche in our movement. This year I'd like you to have training in the Scouting programs, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. These training programs will be held in your District once a month for the next year. We call these sessions Roundtables.
The second part of my gift to you is fellowship. I've arranged for the unit leaders of our Cup Packs and Scout Troops to get together once a month in each District to enjoy each other's company, to share their successes with each other, and learn from each other. This fellowship of Scouting we call Roundtables.
The third part of my gift to you is the Spirit of Scouting. You can catch the Spirit of Scouting at any Scout meeting but it will especially be available to you at the monthly Roundtable in your District. The exact time and location is announced elsewhere in these pages. It is especially appropriate for you to receive the Spirit of Scouting in this season of the Prince of Peace for Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, believed that if all the world would catch the Spirit of Scouting and live by the Scout Oath and Law that there would be peace in the world.
Remember, for you to make full use of my this year's gift to you this year you must attend your District's Roundtables regularly. I'll see you there.
Recently a friend of mine in Scouting received an anonymous letter. Since some really nasty things were said about him in this letter, he was naturally upset. I told him that he should follow the rules that I follow when I get such a letter.
Rule 1: Read the letter only for amusement.
Rule 2: Don't take anything in the letter seriously.
Rule 3: Take no action based on an unsigned letter.
Rule 4: Discard after reading.
I also assured him that the letter could not have come from a Scout or Scouter. By way of proof of this I referred to the Scout law.
A Scout is Helpful. Such a letter is not intended to be helpful.
A Scout is Friendly. To say nasty things about someone is not friendly.
A Scout is Courteous. Nor is it courteous.
A Scout is Kind. Nor is it kind.
A Scout is Brave. Not signing your name to a letter is not particularly brave.
I hope you'll agree that I gave my friend good advice and that you'll think about this any time you should get an anonymous letter.
By Robert E. Besecker
Me? A Scout?
This is a letter to my grandson about why I think he should join Cub Scouts. Since I don't think my oldest grandson is going to need that much persuading and my other grandsons won't be needing this for a few years yet, perhaps you might find a use for it in the meanwhile.
There are a number of reason why I think you should become a Cub Scout. Some of these reasons are ones that you will understand. Others are ones that you won't understand now but you will when you're older. First of all you should join because Cub Scouting is fun. I know from first hand experience that Cub Scouting is fun because I was a Cub Scout when I was your age. You will be with a lot of your friends in Scouting and together you and your friends will have lots of adventures. One of the things I know you'll enjoy is going to Scout Camp in the summer. There you'll get to swim, shoot arrows and BB guns. You'll get to earn badges and pins to put on your uniform.
All of the above are things that you'll understand now. When you get older, you'll appreciate that in Scouting you'll develop your character. You'll learn to be self-confident and self-reliant. You'll learn to be a good citizen. And you'll develop personal fitness; mentally, physically and morally. As I said, these are not things that are important to you now but you will understand when I say that these are things that will make your parents very proud of you.
I hope that you enjoy Scouting as much as your Father did.
A boy's behavior is our opportunity. What he does and how you react to what he does is what will shape his character. Baden-Powell said:
"The whole object of our Scouting is to seize the boy's character in its red-hot enthusiasm, and weld it into the right shape and to encourage and develop its individuality -- so that the boy may educate himself to become a good man and a valuable citizen for his country."
"Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is character -- character with a purpose. And that purpose, that the next generation be sane in an insane world, and develop the higher realization of Service, the active service of Love and Duty to God and neighbor."
The words of our founder are as much to the point today as they were over fifty years ago. Try, as difficult as it will be, to keep all of this in mind when things get really intense at camp this summer. Take the opportunity to let a boy's behavior give you the opportunity to mold his character.
Remember that character is our aim -- not a smooth running campout.
"Some few Scoutmasters are still behind the time, and consequently their Troops are behind the average, in not making sufficient use of their Patrol Leaders.
"They ought to give the [Troop Boy Leaders] as much liberty of action as they like to get themselves..."
"They must hold the Patrol Leader responsible for everything good or bad that occurs in his patrol."
"They must put responsibility upon him, let him do his job, and if he makes mistakes let him do so, and show him afterwards where he went wrong -- in this way only can he learn."
"Half the value of our training is to be got by putting responsibility on young shoulders. It is especially valuable for taming wild spirits; it gives them a something which they like to take up instead of their equally heroic but less desirable hooligan pursuits."
Lord Baden-Powell had a way with words and a way of explaining the value of the Patrol method. The paragraphs above are as true today as they were in April, 1910 when he wrote them. Take a look at the activities in your Troop. If Baden-Powell came to visit your Troop, would he think you were "making sufficient use of [your] Patrol Leaders."
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