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Where have all the scouting heros gone

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Baden-Powell, Ernst Thompson Seton, Dan Beard, Bill Hillcourt, Juliet Low...where have all our hero's gone? They are all dead.


Now I know each of you can probably think of a scouting 'hero' that you work with on a regular basis, and you yourself may be considered a 'hero' by others (and by yourself, in some cases), but what about a nationally recognized scouting 'hero'. Can you think of anybody? National BSA seems to be run by administrators, not visionaries.


Baseball needed Babe Ruth, basketball needed Michael Jordan, our country needed John Glenn...to take us to new heights.


From a national point of view, scouting is in the doldrums. Flat membership levels, attacks from all kinds of groups, funding issues, etc. Is it time for a national scouting 'hero' that can provide effective leadership and vision to take us all to new heights? A hero with charisma, vision and enthusiasm that can be the visible standard bearer to all.


Now, I know some of you will discount this that its the scouting ideals that we need to focus on..and not an individual. But democracy was just an idea that went nowhere without the vision and leadership of Adams, Jefferson and Madison, and later reinforced by Reagan, Walesa, Gorbachev. Certainly, it takes many to promote a movement but we all need to know where we are going as part of that moving.


What say you? Any volunteers?






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I'm not sure if it is just me, but hero's don't seem to last as long as they used too.

Her That Must Be Obeyed, was going through boxes of papers the other day and she came across a signed photo of the Lone Ranger, he was one of her hero's not Clayton whatever his name was but the Lone Ranger. We don't have, as far as I know TV shows like that.

The Scout Association in the UK have just selected a guy who is a TV celebrity as their new Chief Scout. He was a presenter of a magazine type show aimed at young people. He had also had shows where he traveled around the world. He had been a Cub Scout.Since he came on board there have been celebrity soccer matches at Gilwell Park and events that will draw the media. Before this it seemed that the one big requirement for Chief Scout was that you looked good in a kilt.

Just last week I received a directory of people who serve on the Northeast Region. These people were all gifted people who might be called heavy hitters in business and industry, many were and are CEO's of well known companies in just about every sort of business. I was really very honored to know that while at a much lesser level I was joining such a esteemed group of people.

Looking at myself I have never seen myself as a hero and I don't have the knees for kilt wearing. I like to see me as a friendly sort of chap and over the years it does seem that people take a liking to me. Of course there are those who don't like me and those who can't stand me.

We each will leave a legacy behind, I share in the vision of all the great people who have served before me, that list would include my old leaders and would wind it's way back to the vision of Baden Powell and the people listed. The vision is alive in the dens, packs, troops and crews. The people who serve with our kids are delivering the vision. The people who serve at the District and Council level are doing what they can to support the units in their area. At every level we are joined by other organizations who share our values and share our vision. The people at the Regional level are supporting the councils.

I know people who serve on the National board and I am humbled at their knowledge of this program and how it works. I know people who are employed at the National level and their commitment to this organization is an example to us all.

Maybe some sort of hero would be good for marketing, but the delivery of the vision of Scouting lies with the people who work with the youth members. Tom Cruise as Chief Scout would look great at photo opportunities, but would do little or nothing to improve the quality of the den, pack, troop or crew meeting.

Sad to say the attacks we face come from people who don't share or don't understand our values. Many of these people or groups are happy to spend time and energy attacking the BSA. I have to wonder why instead of just devoting their time to attacking us they don't start their own youth organizations?

Flat membership can be traced back to problems at the unit level. If each and every leader seen the delivery of the vision and mission of the BSA as their number one priority, I know that membership would go through the roof, of course if each and every parent seen that we were at every level making Scouts and Scouting the best show in town, they would want to do more to support our efforts. If community leaders and more business leaders seen the impact that we can have when we deliver the Vision and mission of the BSA, they would want to join this winning team.

We do have many people who might be seen as heroes on our team already, many of these were in Scouting as a youth.

While I agree we can do better than a ill mannered cat as a spokesperson, I am happy to allow the heroes of Scouting be the youth members that we serve.


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I see that scouting has had thousands of heroes. Why the need for a national one? I have never met a great volunteer who either wanted or sought national recognition. Most are perfectly content when they recieve a card at the holidays from a person who remembers them or a friendly hello from a former scout or scout parent that they meet during their day.


We haven't needed a national hero since baden-Powell, we still don't.


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Having heroes didn't fit the role of need as much as it was a matter of fact. Baden-Powell, Uncle Dan, James West were founders and they had great personal attributes and characteristics that people loved and respected. I suppose they were even taken for granted while alive.


The program grows other heroes that are not as well known but they possess qualities that give the program depth when we are around them or even at a distance. You will recognize them quite easily. They are the ones that take things to a new height and make Scouts believe in themselves. I can recount several of those heroes from my youth up until this very day. These people have made Scouting come alive for me and have allowed me to do some things I did not believe that I would ever be able to do. I try hard to not take them for granted because I know they are not forever.


If Scouting is in the doldrums where you are, focus on your own walk because you might be that very person that embodies the qualities that others really need at this time.


In Scouting,



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Dr. Carl Marchetti would probably be the closest person I could think of who would fit these standards. He was responsible for implementing the "youth-run" Order of the Arrow program (on the national level), and recently recieved the OA "Legacy of Leadership" award. Even he, however, quoted: "If I have seen further than anyone else, it was because I was standing on the shoulders of giants."


The "founding fathers" of the Scouting movement all played a vital role in forming and shaping the wonderful and nearly flawless scouting program we have now (BobWhite could testify to this). Because of their initial "vision," they've been remembered as the "legends" of scouting's storied history. The fact of the matter is that there is not much ANYONE can do today to dramatically "revolutionize" the program for the better. Sure, every Cheif Scout Executive has had his part in improving the program and perpetuating the vision of scouting's founding fathers, but the fact that it was their vision to begin with holds them above all the rest.


This is usually how history plays itself out. American history has given us many presidents, but only a few have played a really big role in defining and shaping this nation (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, to name a few). Who can honestly say that anyone's impact on this nation could even compare with that of those past "great" presidents?

The constitution has already been written, by people who had a vision; it is up to us in this modern day in age to protect and defend this vision.

(This message has been edited by 9muckraker7)

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I don't know about a national "hero" but I think the idea of a national spokesperson has merit. Someone who could put a respected and recognizable face on scouting and promote scouting.


There are several good candidates on the list of Famous Eagle Scouts. I can think of several Astronauts that would do well, as well as some of the sports figures listed. I would stay away from anyone that is overtly political, i.e. Mike Dukakis or Donald Rumsfeld.



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The "heroes" of any movement are normally its founders, because they overcome the most inertia, up front (hence the term "movement"?). All the organization, defining, and "norming" was done 100 years ago; we're now sustaining (or trying to, anyway).


Whether we call someone a hero, a spokesperson, a magnet, a "super-recruiter", whatever, I think an important first question is who's the target audience? If it's youth, to attract members who may not join otherwise, someone the youth identify with would be best -- someone in sports or entertainment, probably. If it's to attract and retain benefactors, someone in business or industry. I guess my point is, there's no single person who can be all things to all people. Nor should there be. With all the Eagle Scouts we've produced over the years, who disproportionately rise to positions of influence, there should be a huge pool of prominent men, in all walks of life, who've taken the Eagle Charge, and SHOULD BE lining up to champion Scouting. Where are these guys? We can get them to fess up if they're already Scouters. But if not, you'd probably never know. There's our heroes.



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I would venture to say that not a single scout in your unit can name either the BSA Chief Scout Executive or your Council executive...take a poll at your next meeting. Worse, most of you could not do it either without looking it up. Why?...because the execs are businessmen who care more about the numbers (enrollments and dollars) and protecting what they have (from lawsuits) then about providing visible leadership at the national level, leadership that creates a sense of national excitement and pride about scouting. What we have now is men of reaction, not action, and the result is that, at the national level, scouting has suffered (certainly individual units, districts or councils may be an exception). As Scouters, we all do the very best we can recruiting and encouraging retention, trying to bring the program to life. Wouldn't it be nice if national supported us in this endeavor with a national on-going campaign that promoted scouting, that created pride among all its members, that produced real growth in numbers, that ensured that scouting will not become irrelevant in a post-modern society.


Others have said -


"All the organization, defining, and "norming" was done 100 years ago; we're now sustaining (or trying to, anyway)."


"The fact of the matter is that there is not much ANYONE can do today to dramatically "revolutionize" the program for the better."


So...I guess we are all in maintenance mode now. It is what it is. Can't get any better. Sounds like a defeatist attitude...sounds like a buggy manufacturer at the beginning of the 20th century. The 21st century will define scouting as either just a mere sentiment of a bygone era or as a vibrant and dynamic youth program that produces citizens of character. We need visionaries to do that, not just a bunch of guys trying to figure out if the first sentence of page 63 of the Guide to Safe Scouting should be bolded or not.


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As others have pointed out, the main thing that we should do as Scouters is make sure that we are being the "local heroes" by doing what we can to provide leadership and vision to our units. We may not be able to change the world but we can certainly make an impact on our own little corners of it!


Having said that, I too have concerns about overall direction. Here is my reasoning.


Scouting is a movement. That purple crest we all wear signifies the fact that it is, in fact, a world wide movemnt whose goal is to help young men become outstanding citizens.


Movements are usually driven by people whose passion and vision attract followers. Many movements fail when the visionaries die or fade away. More mature movements, like Scouting, can carry on without them because other people take up the same vision and continue to breath life into it -- that's you and me and other Scouters doing what we can to keep the movement alive. This is why Scouting has continued for so many years without a single focus person for its vision. Generations of leaders have continued the teachings and traditions of Scouting without the need for another Baden-Powell.


There are two possible problems though. First, there is the danger of stagnation. Without a strong person or group driving the movement it might begin to atrophy and eventually fail. I think that Scouting is mature enough that you will see places where it is stagnant, others where it is shriking, and still others where it is growing. My sense of it is that Scouting is having a resurgence -- but that may just be a local phenomena!


The second problem is that Scouting is under assault from the outside. Public opinion in some places is turning against Scouting and that is where a strong national spokesman / visionary would help. BSA does seem to be working to defend itself, and it has allies in Congress and other places (as shown by the recent resolution in the House of Representatives), but these efforts do not do much to sway public opinion. No national figure seems to making the case for the BSA. Without that kind of "hero", the press reports on what the opposition has to say and therefore influencing public opinion.


Do we need a hero to run our packs or troops or even the BSA? No. We are blessed with volunteer heroes at all levels of leadership. We may, however, need someone who can represent Scouting to those who do not understand or suppport our ideals and policies.


Just my two cents,





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