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Proud to be a Scout and a Scouter

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All this bad news lately has got me thinking.


I suspect my tenure as a scout was similar to many boys. I joined Cub Scouts because my parents put me in it. I crossed over to our affiliated troop. Eventually I was done. Never really gave a thought to the whys of scouting.


Returning (many) years later as an adult Scouter gave me a chance to rethink the whys. I could list a whole bunch of individual onesthe aims and the truisms, all the stuff one picks up in training and sees in the development of boys over time. Ultimately, however, the whys are really tough to put into words. As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that is true about Scouting.


So back to all the bad news. As a program espousing service before self and traditional values, scoutingspecifically the BSAis an easy target in todays self-centered and secular society. We read the attacks here. We see the perverse delight some take in the failings and missteps the BSA has made over time, failings that are inevitable because it is an organization comprised of human beings.


It is convenient for some to use those failings as an indictment against the standards themselves and, by extension, the people who believe in them, rather than what they area reminder of the imperfect people we are and a motivation to do better. At the same time the organization is under attack from the outside, we see the push and pull from competing interests within the organization.


My point is that in this environment, its hard to stay focused on the whys of Scouting.


Does my son understand the whys? He can recite some of the points I have talked to him about, and Im sure he believes it, but he mainly wants to go camping and spend time with his friends. And thats ok. I also tell him that Im proud of him as a Scout, and I mean it, and Im proud to be associated with the BSA.


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My sons don't know or care about the "whys". They enjoyed hanging out with they friends, going camping and all the other fun activites. Along the way they learned citizenship, service to the community, leadership and a host of other skills. Not because that was what drew them to scouting, but it is inherent in the program.


Just like all the Dads who volunteer to be the team coach because they played ball as a lad. So do many boy scouts become fathers and teach their sons the joys of scouting.


The why for me is first fun. Then it is to help my sons troop provide a good program for my son. By ensuring the troop provides a good program for my sons, I also ensure a good program for lots of sons. It is selfish and self serving but also helps "the village" raise the next generation.


Yeah it is for the boys. But I can assure you that hiking the trail, paddling the canoe or rappeling that cliff is just as much fun for me as it is for the lads.

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Let's face it, Chicken Little didn't become famous because of a 'good news' message. It's just the way we are that bad news and fears of all sorts tend to get more attention. Me, I can feel just fine about things and all I have to do is focus on the boys in this unit, or on the incredibly bright and optimistic young people in my classes. If my spirit falters even a little bit, or if it plunges into the abyss, a quick survey of the young people around me quickly lifts my spirit in a way that none of the 'bad' things can outweigh. The future might be hard, and it almost always is, but it is still bright.

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I'm very proud to have been in scouting as a youth. Yes I had my ups and downs, but the things I learned are hard to put into words. The experiences I had, the responsibilties I had, the opportunities I had, are too numerous to describe. Suffice to say, folks are amazed at some fo the things I did as a Boy Scout, Sea Scout, and a leader under the age of 23.


Been doing Scouting for 30 years now. part of it is I'm still having fun and enjoying it. Part of it payback, there is no way at all I could ever pay back the leaders in my life, youth and adult alike, except to continue serving.


But most importantly, for the past 4 years I've had a Cub and now 2 Cubs of my own. If they have half the fun I had in Scouting, and so far they have had MORE fun than I ever had at their ages, they are going to have a blast.

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I think the approach to a successful scouting experience for both the adults and scouts is keeping it local.


I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Brewmeister says it perfectly when he talked about folks seemingly to taking a perverse delight in the missteps in the scouting program. But when I look back on my scouting experience as a youth and adult, those are some of my best memories of my life. My sons say the same thing. Not sure about their mom who was a Scoutmasters widow for a few years, but I know scouting has a permanent warm place in the memories of our family.


When news is bad, and it seems bad all the time anymore, turn it off and take the scouts out in the woods. Making good scouting memories really isn't allthat hard. I remember one time my Webelos assistant called me about an hour before a den meeting to tell me about the eagle watch at our local lake. We dumped the original den meeting plans and took the scouts to the lake to watch eagles. It was pretty cold and after about 45 minutes of no eagles, we built a fire. One of the adults just happen to have a bag of marsh mellows, so we roasted marsh mellows, laughed, joked and basically enjoyed the scouting fellowship of the moment. We accomplished nothing that day, and yet one of the scouts reminded me of that day six years later at his Eagle COH. You just never know what can turn into a great scouting memory.


If we are to keep the true scouting in perspective, we need to do real scouting stuff that has the most impact on our lives and the lives or our youth. We need to focus on our local scouting stuff. When the news starts to weigh heavy on us, turn it off and go to a scout activity. If nothing else, just watch boys in action. Start tuning out the malcontents on this forum and instead help a fellow scouter asking for little advice. If you had a great scouting day, tell us about it. Oaktree graciously sends me some of his Troop emails that warm my scouting heart. He lives 1500 miles away, so I have never met his scouts, but I seem to put a face on every scout in his mails.


Do the stuff that makes us feel good to be scouters. If its good for us, it's good for the Scouting program. Do those things that helps us love this scouting stuff.




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