Posts Tagged ‘character’

Scouter Davey Jones, RIP

September 29, 2013

Lewis & Clark Monument

I can’t say it much better than Sioux Council’s Scout Executive, on the recent loss of a long-time Scouter from Minnesota:

Scouting Friends:

It is with deepest regret that I share the news of the passing of Lewis & Clark Scout Camp icon and our Scouting friend, David “Davey” Jones. Davey passed away in his sleep on September 5th while on a fossil hunting expedition with a friend in Lusk, WY.

It is not over stated to say that Davey was a legend among Scouts who attended summer camp at Lewis & Clark. This past camping season was Davey’s 37th at the camp on the hills above the Missouri River. His legacy literally touched the lives of thousands of campers throughout the decades.

Davey’s impact on Scouting was not limited to summer camp alone. He was a stalwart presence in local Scouting in both the Worthington and Marshall, MN areas. His distinctive voice, the always positive attitude and the wealth of knowledge will be sorely missed by all.

In many college communities, Davey was renowned for his knowledge of, work in and support of paleontology. It is fitting that Davey’s last hours were spent doing what he loved.

Davey’s family wishes to express their thanks for the many kind words of condolence they have received from the Scouting community. Davey’s body will be cremated and a memorial service will be held in Spring 2014 at Lewis and Clark Scout Camp.

Family members have requested that anyone wishing to honor Davey’s memory can make contributions in his name to the Sioux Council, BSA.

Please keep Davey’s family, including his many beloved friends in Scouting, in your prayers in this time of loss.

Tom Smotherman Jr. – Scout Executive

Davey was displaced from his long-time home in Worthington, Minnesota, when the State widened a highway through town.  Turning lemons into lemonade, as Scouters are wont to do, Davey worked out a life estate at Lewis & Clark Scout Reservation outside Yankton, South Dakota.  He helped the camp build some much-needed facilities, as I understand it, and the camp helped him with a place to stay.  I can still hear him smile, raise his hand, and say “On my honor…” .

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Each of Us a Corp of Discovery

August 30, 2013

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Back to school time is a good time to remember Scouting is NOT Scout School.

Scouting is boy-run, bottoms-up.  School is adult-run, top-down.

Scouting is a game for learning.  School is learning, so we can play games.

Scouting is a gang of eight (the patrol), all for one and one for all. School is all about individual achievement, as a cog in too-often a nameless bureaucracy.

Scouting is not competition for school or sports, but a compliment. We do well what they do not. Successful teams, like Lewis & Clark’s Corp of Discovery, follow universal truths with a strong dose of adaptation–to team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and to their changing environment. And each Troop does this not because we have to, but because we WANT to…go higher, last longer, be better citizens and men.

Yours in Scouting.
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Scouting is the Idea

June 1, 2013

English: Front cover of the second installment...

What would B-P do?

Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting over 100 years ago to fill a void.  He took what he had learned in service to his country and adapted it for boys who clamored for an outdoor life—a Boy’s Life.

Over the years, B-P’s Scouting idea was filtered and further adapted and bureaucratized by men, most with good intentions, as the Scouting Movement became institutionalized in 100s of nations across the world.  As they say, an idea is the raw grain of a movement, and as any other ingredient in man’s diet it is seldom recognizable by the time it becomes a “movement”.

We can argue if the Scout Association of the UK or the Boy Scouts of America (current or “improved”) or the Girls Scouts of America or any member of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM) has remained faithful to B-P’s spirit and intent.  How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

There is no arguing that modern bureaucracies have changed essential elements of B-P’s Scouting for Boys.  That fact is printed in plain black and white.  The BSA has wandered far from the basics of the Game of Scouting, with warm fuzzys and merit badge factories and full-time institutional inertia.  We can (and will) argue whether this is a good thing or not.  And in the United States, this time of trouble regarding such a bureaucratic travesty as membership standards may be the perfect impetus to revisit the whole reason we became Scouts.

Why do you play the Game of Scouting?

As a youth, I never thought much about the difference between “Scouting” and the BSA.  I knew B-P started Scouting in England a long time ago, and communist nations outlawed Scouting.  When I returned to the BSA as an adult leader, I read up on the meaning of that purple fleur-de-lis on my uniform, and the fact that there are many different Scouting organizations, both within the WOSM and without.

The Traditional Scouting movement refers to a back to basics effort that returns Scouting to a style based on Robert Baden-Powell‘s model of Scouting; rejecting the trend of modernizing Scouting to appeal to more youths… In America, the term Traditional Scouting can also refer to “old-fashioned” Scouting in some form, as opposed to the Traditional Scouting movement. –Wikipedia

The BSA is only one player in the Scouting movement.  Some alternate groups are more or less organized, more or less conservative or liberal, more or less “Traditional”.  As a Scouter, this may be a time to stick with the BSA and work to bring the movement back closer to B-P’s ideas and ideals.  As a Scouter, it may be time to plant your flag in another camp.

Either way remember:  Scouting is a Game, and it is for the Boys.

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Morally Straight… No More.

May 23, 2013
"Boy Scouts of America" march (sheet...

“Boy Scouts of America” march (sheet music) Page 1 of 6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is a sad day in the history of Scouting.  Please indulge me one last time… for now.  I expect if you’re involved, or even interested, in Scouting you’ve heard the results of the BSA’s change in membership policy.  You may agree, or not, and I do not.  But at the end of the day, many—hopefully most–of us will cowboy up and muddle along.

I am disappointed that our organization that bills itself as having “timeless values” folded so easily to outside pressure.  And Yes, I do see this as an assault from outside Progressives bent on tearing down any institution of traditional values.  This is not the end.  They smell blood in the water and will circle the BSA like sharks.  The attacks on adult membership standards continues, and they will double down on atheism.  Moral relativism is alive and well as men of principle shirk their duty.

As a practical matter, this issue remains one more element of Character.  While the statement reaffirms that “sexual conduct” is contrary to the virtues of Scouting, have we ever withheld rank from a boy who was sexually active?  Have we withheld leadership from adults known to engage in extra-marital affairs?  Should we?  How about youth caught drinking?  Drinking and driving?  Bullying?

We say one thing, we do another, and society in general convicts us of moral hypocrisy.

And today they are right.

The Boy Scouts of America Statement (23 May 2013):

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

“This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

“The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America’s youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”

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Myself, I am troubled by the change, and how it was accomplished.  I’m not interested in telling other people how to live their lives, but there are many different things I can do with my time… things which align with traditional values.  I think after Summer Camp, I may take a break from the BSA and re-visit those values.

Yours in Scouting,

John S.

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Scouting isn’t for Everybody

March 2, 2013

Two Scouting uniforms from 1917-1918

Please indulge me in one more Sound Off post, and I’ll get back to more fun & interesting fare…

Scoutmaster Jerry posted a provocative piece this week on his blog.  In part, he says:

I submit for the sake of discussion that maybe Scouting is not for every boy.  It may be that what Scouting offers is not what they want or need.  It may be that the boy is not ready for the adventures that Scouting offer and well-intentioned parents do not really understand what Scouting is all about.  It is also true that many Scout leaders do not know what Scouting is all about and therefore have promoted a program that misses the mark when it comes to achieving Scouting’s aims.  This has led to young boys joining troops that quickly disappoint or fail to deliver on the expectations they and their parents had on the join night.

As I’ve tried to note previously, any values-based organization is, inherently, “not for everybody”.  And that is OK.  There are, as Jerry notes in his blog, plenty of after-school programs that provide entertainment & exercise.  BSA doesn’t stand for “Baby Sitters of America”!  Jerry continues:

Not everyone wants what Scouting offers.  Numbers, while they drive much of what the professional Scouters track are not the program.  A great program that stays the course will bring in the numbers of boys that seek adventure, values, and ideals that are the hallmark of the Scouting program.  Numbers for the sake of numbers will be just that and we see this play out each year with amount of boys that leave our units.  They don’t want to play the game with a purpose and we should not make them.

We can not be all things to all people without sacrificing our core values.

Now I don’t want to misrepresent Scoutmaster Jerry’s views on membership.  I know from Twitter that he favors changing the membership policy, along with a few other Scouters whom I respect yet respectfully disagree.  I believe the BSA’s membership policy is all about character and how people choose to live their lives.

The BSA is an organization for people who choose to live their lives with character.

That is the larger question far beyond the immediate issue of membership standards.  That is the larger question that inspires the passion of people on both sides of the immediate issue.  That is the much more difficult question of maintaining BSA’s core values in a world of situational ethics and moral relativism that doesn’t much care for values any more.

 

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To Sacrifice our Principles for Popularity

February 26, 2013

I am glad to see the BSA Home Office finally getting their PR straightened out on this membership mess.

Scouting Magazine‘s Bryan on Scouting blog today published a well-written defense of the national Key 3’s fiasco.  No matter how you feel about the content, at least they’re communicating.

I do disagree with the premise that this is a “family discussion”.  Call it what it is—outside agitators for political correctness.  The “family” settled this matter last year when National Council recommitted to existing membership standards.

Why would our leaders reopen this wound?  I believe this quote from National Commissioner Tico Perez is insightful:

The Key 3 has “one singular purpose in mind: to grow Scouting,” Perez explained. “To take Scouting to as many boys and girls as we can in America…

It’s all about the numbers.  That is the root threat to our organization, much much more important than this smokescreen of membership.

We all know Packs and Troops that look great on paper.  They recharter dozens and dozens of Scouts and Scouters.  They have fun at their meetings, but they don’t ask much of anybody.  Its not too hard to earn ranks, but not too many boys learn very much.  They are popular, but they don’t accomplish much.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t have fun, but at some point we’re compromising the quality of the program in the quest for numbers.

Growth for the sake of growth is no solution for Scouting.  We can not sacrifice our principles for popularity.

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Always Room at the Scouting Inn

December 22, 2012

en: Ideal Scout Statue by Robert Tait McKenzie...

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke 2:7

Did you recruit a new Scout today?

No?  Are you sure?

Like the original Unknown Scout in the London fog, every day each of us who are Scouts and Scouters represent Scouting and the BSA (or WOSM organization of your choice), in uniform or not.  At school or at work, on service projects or just puttering around the neighborhood.  When people know you’re a Scout, they judge all of Scouting by your actions.  When people don’t know you’re a Scout, each person you meet is a potential Scout/Scouter or supporter.

As I related in my last post, my family recently moved to a new city/state/Council, so my boys and I have been looking for a new troop(s).  In a time of transition like this, we faced (and are still working through) many decision points regarding participation in Scouting.  The boys, being at different ages and ranks, have their own interests and concerns–even whether or not to continue in Scouting at all.  So we poked around on the Council website looking for local Troop and Crew info.  I visited Roundtable to see which units were active.  I asked around when we got to town to see if anybody knew any Scouters… and we visited several meetings to see where the boys felt they could fit in.  In each case, someone had the opportunity to extend a welcoming hand… or not.

Not only does everybody win in the game of Scouting, but there’s also always more room for more players.  While Mary & Joseph were turned away from the Inn so long ago, there’s always room in Scouting for families who want to live by the Scout Oath & Law.  And every day, each and every one of us invite new Scouts in, whether we know it or not, by how we live the Scout Oath and Law.  Do you live On Your Honor?  Are you Courteous and Kind?  Have you Done A Good Daily?

There are no strangers to Scouting, only friends we haven’t met yet.

Merry Christmas.

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Everybody Wins in the Game of Scouting

November 30, 2012

Lions Park Scout House

Competition is a good thing.  We learn new skills and new solutions, then hone them further, through practice and competition. We compete on the basketball court and football field.  We compete in school and in our careers.

We recently moved to a new state and my sons have been visiting troops here.  Each troop is a bit different, with a different mix of boys—different ages, different schools, different interests—as well as each a different mix of adults.  One may tend towards canoeing, another towards hiking, another more towards service projects.

No one troop does everything “according to Baden-Powell”, but every troop, I believe, delivers the promise of Scouting as best they can.  Each troop finds their “thing”, or they find it hard to find members.  Every day, our Troops compete, not just for new Scouts but for the time and attention of each and every boy and adult leader on our rosters.

It seems the Intelligencia is determined to stamp out competition, believing it hurts our children’s self-esteem when they can’t win every game.  Life is competition… but Scouting is unique among most games our children play.  Only 5 boys can play on a basketball team at one time; 9 boys on a baseball team; 11 boys on a football team.  How many boys can play on the Scouting team?  All of ’em, 4-8 in a patrol, as many patrols as you can fit.  As Baden-Powell told us, “It is important to arrange games and competition so that all Scouts of the troop take part.”  Everybody wins in the game of Scouting.

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Scoutmaster Minute—Peer Pressure

September 16, 2012
Scouting

Scouting (Photo credit: omer_k)

SM Minute—Peer Pressure

Now that we have a couple weeks of school under our belts, I hope each of you have made some new friends. Why don’t you invite one to our next Troop meeting, or campout?

Good friends ask you to do good things, like going fishing, or on a hike.  Some so-called friends, though, don’t have your best interests in mind.  Let’s look at page 61 in your Scout Handbook again:

Real friends will not ask you to do anything that could put you at risk.  If those who say they are your friends are smoking,drinking, using drugs, watching pornography, using profanity, or doing anything else that is unwise, you don’t have to go along with them. You might need to look for new friends who are interested in healtheir activities. Don’t worry, they are out there.  Be true to your values, and you will find them.

Remember, a Scout is Friendly and Loyal, but a Scout is also Trustworthy and Clean.

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Scoutmaster Minute—New Friends

September 9, 2012
Scouting

Scouting (Photo credit: omer_k)

SM Minute—New Friends

Going back to school is a time of new starts, new beginnings.  You’ll have new classes, and hopefully new friends. A Scout is Friendly after all!

This is a great time to reach out to new kids at school, and old friends you haven’t caught up with in a while.

It’s also a good time to remember the importance of making good choices, from page 61 in your Scout Handbook:

Good Judgement in Choosing Friends

Choose friends whose values you share and admire.  Be open to those who are not just like everyone else you know.  Differences in race, culture, and language may keep some people at a distance, but those differences can also be doorways for you to expand your understanding of other people and of the world.  Disabilities might seem to be barriers to friendship, too, but look beyond what seems to separate you.  You might be surprised to discover how much you have in common with others and how much you can share with one another.

Have a great week at school.

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