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"Well for starters Barry, how about the Scouts assault on the US Army during practice manuvers?"

 

Having read the biographies of a few soldiers who served between the wars, that wouldn't surprise me. The stories they tell of the military at the time were of officers who were more interested in promotion and protecting their position than doing their jobs, non-coms who were worried about making a misstep and attracting the attention of some "danged officer" and troops who treated most of it as a lark. After all, there never was going to be another war.

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"in fact there were no real training for a scoutmaster to attend then except reading the scoutmaster handbook and half the time learning right along with the boys which the film depicts rather well.

 

"Yes today we have a total package of books and trainings for every scoutmaster that tells him everything he must do and exactly how to do it without him having to add anything of his own"

 

Actually, I would disagree with this.

 

There most certainly was training for the scoutmasters during this time period. Certainly by the 1930s, National was putting in place a multi-level series of training courses for scoutmasters, and putting in place the Scoutmaster's Key and Scouter's Training Award to encourage adults to get training. These courses were revamped and updated about every 10 years or so.

 

Furthermore, National at the time was putting out a LOT of materials in print for the scout leader. There was a whole series of short, merit badge pamplet booklets in the Service Library on a wide range of topics. I sometimes think we are actually poor in literature compared to the 30s & 40s.

 

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emb21- what you say may be somewhat true however putting together a training program and then effectively delivering it to troops in isolated rural America where the closest council was hundreds of miles away was a whole nother matter. I will agree with the literature being more plentiful and better written, training however still had a long way to go.

 

perdidochas- sorry to hear your youth scouting experience was not very good, mine in the late 60's was excellent and indeed very different from today in both content and delivery which was my point.

 

Bob- so were you a scout as a youth, inquiring minds want to know?

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" I will agree with the literature being more plentiful and better written, training however still had a long way to go."

 

And then it hit its zenith and started a rapid slide back down to the nadir.(This message has been edited by Gold Winger)

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Lets see, at the end of the movie Whitey is explaining to Lem that the Troop Committee (who Lem thinks will gum everything up)has voted to bestow the title "Scoutmaster Emeritus" upon Lem as he takes a less active role in the Troop to which Lem replies:

 

"That's not in the manual"

 

Whitey replies:

 

"Lem, when did your Troop do everything by the manual?"

 

Therefore, Lem had enough training to know the manual, at least he knew there was a manual and Whitey knew enough about the program to know that Troop 1 Hickory (which went on to star in Hoosiers (the town, not the troop))did not always follow the program.

 

Proof Lem and Whitey were trained to some degree

 

Upon further review, I declare that Lem Siddons was a tweaker which may explain his status in the forum. Lemuel Siddons, Patron Saint of Boy Scout Tweakers, it fits

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The movie was based on the book: "God and My Country", by MacKinlay Kantor, The Curtis Publishing Company, 1954, Library of Congress Card Catalog number: 54-5543. As is often the case with a Walt disney film, the movie bears little semblance to the book. The book is great and speaks to the importance of the program as well as painting a realistic portrait with some failures as well as successes. I highly recommend the book though some tissues might be needed at the end. Addall has an excellent search engine for out of print books.

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My scouting experience overall was good for the two years I was in it. The thing is, I feel Scouts today have a better experience than I did.

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I was a Scout form 1969 through 1976 and earned Eagle in '76. We called my Scoutmaster "Mac", kinda like "Lem". I don't think I ever called him "Mr.". But I've never had any more respect for any more man I have ever known.

 

Mac became a Scoutmaster in 1935 and continued on into the early 1990's. He was I suppose, the "Lem" of Central New Jersey. We had boys of all types in our troop. Including boys with all kinds of problems who apparently came from some kind of "boys home". But Mac liked them and thought they were worthy to be Scouts, so, so did we boys.

 

Scouting was changing a lot during that time. Mac kept us focused on what Scouting was always meant to be. We advanced by the requirements, but more time was spent learning about the outdoors. I think we became better men because of it. Mac lived a life dedicated to God and everybody new it. But his was a gentle faith lived by example.

 

My Scouting experience during the 70's had more influence than anything else in my life. Thirty years later I am a Scoutmaster. Every day I try to model my troop and my ways on that old Scoutmaster. Every day I wish he were here to give me advice when I need it.

 

No, I'm not "Lem". But I'm trying.

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You know, I read the book and saw the movie. The book was more of a "stages of life" kind of book, following the young scoutmaster from his twenties into his old age, and seeing his choices of life; single life, marriage and family, carreer, and friendships as they are affected by his passion: scouting. In the first chapter he is looking back over his life, both wondering if he went in the right direction and longing to do it all again.

 

As I ponder the question of does the movie portray normal scouting, I have to remind myself of two things. One is that scouting now is very different from in the beginning. The second is that from unit to unit, in whatever era it was, scouting was different because of the different personalities of the unit leaders, their attitudes, vision and skills.

 

As a boy I was in two troops, one in Memphis in 1969, and after a move, in northern Louisiana from 1971 to 1973. All I remember of the first troop was a campout and hike at the Shiloh civil war battle field, and that I got tenderfoot pretty quickly. Of the second I had a gruff scoutmaster whose son held the SPL job for years. I rose to Life scout, was a patrol leader, went to Philmont in 1972, won a tent pitching event at a council camporee (remember when everyone slept in old army pup tents), and left the troop at 16 when my job at Mcdonalds prohibited me from going any more. That year the SM resigned and the troop folded.

 

I have compared notes with other scouters who where in troops in the sixties and seventies, and I come up with very different pictures of life as a scout. Our troop was not very organized, and advancement was sporatic, and we never produced and Eagle scout. Other troops were large, run as machines, had lots of camping enthusiasts or ex military men (height of the Vietnam war, and all) and produced lots of Eagle scouts. I thing the same thing happens today. I think I know what the ideal troop looks like, but the normal one is harder to imagine.

 

 

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For me this movie touched me in a way I am sure it does all scouters who devote so much time to scouting, and at times have wondered why I am I still doing this. It is not about training or what makes a good scout troop, its about something that touches us at our core and makes us proud to be part of a great organization. This movie is probably the best PR the Boy Scouts have ever received. Anyone one who has ever been a scout in their youth can't help but be drawn in by the story. So I give it two thumbs up.

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