Archive for February, 2011

A Scouting Movement, not a Program

February 21, 2011

Is the culture of expertise killing the Scouting Spirit?

We are in our 1st year after the 100th anniversary of the founding of Scouting in America.  The Centennial celebration of the BSA is over, and we can consider the lessons learned from the last century to continue into the next.

As a Scout, I was blissfully unaware of the inner workings of the Scouting program.  I can’t say that my troop was or wasn’t pointed toward the “True North” of Scouting as a boy-led troop.  We got along, we had fun, I made Eagle as did many of my friends.  My Scoutmasters gave much so us Scouts could do what we did.

They did something right, as I came back to Scouting as an adult.  In packs and troops and crews in different Councils along my journey, I realized how different Scouting is from other youth activities.  Scouting has a few paid staff in Council offices, but the program runs on volunteers.  Volunteers who it seems are increasingly difficult to recruit and retain.  And I blame the Soccer Moms.

Many of us in Generation X were brought up believing that if Mom (and Dad) really cared they would get us “professional help”.  Paid day care providers knew better how to raise us and professional teachers knew better than mom and dad how to educate us.  Only losers settled for mom or dad volunteering as coach.  They hired the soccer coach when they really cared.  Plus, it gets mom and dad off the hook for spending time with their kids—just let the experts deal with it.

Scouting isn’t immune to the culture of expertise.  In the early days, the experts were men like Ernest Thompson Seton, and even Lord Baden-Powell himself, but Scouting was a Movement, not a program.  Before BP issued his handbook, boys across the English-speaking world had picked up on Scouting all on their own.  Then volunteer Commissioners picked up the gauntlet.  Then, over time, we have come to rely more and more on professionals and experts.  The Movement gives way to policy and procedure and program.  Edicts come down from Dallas and the rest of us are expected to comply.

Excuse me if I sound less than inspired by the bureaucracy.

I believe the Scouting Movement is the most powerful enabler of change available to young people today.  Where else can a young man or a young woman go and run the program themselves? Where can they go to practice everything they need to know to be a success later in life?  Not on the basketball court where the coach anoints his favorites and yells at the rest.  Not in the classroom where the teachers teach to a test rather than to real life.  Who wants to be that?

Who wants to go to “Scout School”?

Perhaps it is time for us to listen to Prof. Hertz from BP’s homeland (though I have no idea of her opinion of Scouting, as a liberal European I doubt she’s on our side; no matter).  Perhaps it is time to rely less on the Scout Executives and more on the Patrol Leaders Councils.  Now, the Scout Law says specifically that a Scout seeks orderly change, not disobedience, but it may just be time to seek that orderly change by doing what’s right instead of what’s right now.

  • It may be time to worry less about the meaning of the term “active”, and more about how we help Scouts do stuff they want to be active in.
  • It may be time to spend less time recruiting “Friends of Scouting”, and more time recruiting Friends into Scouting.
  • It may be time to do less “training”, and do more learning.
  • It may be time to set aside the prescribed Scouting Program, and take up again a Scouting Movement.

I’ll get right on that, right after the next Committee meeting…




Erickson earns rank of Eagle Scout

February 13, 2011
Eagle Scout Badge, Type 9

Image via Wikipedia

In this week’s edition of the Murray County News:

“It’s the basic goal of scouting when you start,” Jake Erickson reflects.  “It’s the last thing you go towards.”

For years Jake Erickson has been thinking about, preparing, and working toward earning the Boy Scout rank of Eagle Scout.  Now that dream has been realized and friends, family and fellow Scouts will celebrate his achievement in a ceremony in his honor this Sunday afternoon.

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is not something that you sit down and do overnight, Erickson says.  “It takes years and years and years of work.  And you have to want it,” he adds. Erickson has been working toward his goal since joining scouting while a kindergartner at the age of six.  In the 5th grade he became a Boy Scout and along side his brothers, Ben and Ryan, as well as dad Steve, he began work on his goal of achieving the hghest rank possible in the organization….

At 3pm today we will honor Jacob Erickson at an Eagle Court of Honor.  As with most of our recent Eagles in Troop 25, Jake is now age 18.  He took it to the limit, but he got it done before the end of the Centennial Year of Scouting.  With the support of his Dad and brothers, and the help of his fellow Scouts and friends he got it done.  We’re proud of them all.


p.s. Jake did his Eagle Leadership Project at Shetek Lutheran Ministries, a great place for community, family and youth programs across the lake from our own Camp Shetek.  Check ’em out online at: