Greetings! In my last Voice of Scouting blog article, I introduced my 10 Keys to Successful Scouting. The list of keys included things like training, teamwork, using resources, calendaring events and programs, motivating youth as leaders, using and teaching the ideals of Scouting. Included also were using the patrol method – the key method of Scouting, being an example to youth and adults in the program, friendship and service.
These are all very important keys, which if used and implemented will help you to enjoy a really great program with your youth and the adults with which you serve. I urge you to give them all a try. And now that we have introduced these keys, let’s take a deeper look at each of them.
Do you remember your first campout as a boy? What about the smell of that campfire and the brotherhood shared? Do you recall that special leader who was there to make a difference in your life just as you needed him most? Those were great times!
Do you remember when you were selected as leader of that scruffy looking group of rowdy boys? You thought to yourself, “Why me? … I don’t know anything about Scouting! How did I get cornered into this one?” That’s what most of us felt when faced with that new challenge but we soon learned that we were in for the time of our lives.
If you were a Scout or if you’re now a seasoned volunteer veteran, this blog will bring back some of those special memories. If you’re a greenhorn or current leader you may here find some helpful hints to assist you in the awesome challenge which now is yours. Whatever your Scouting experience, this material is for you. For simplicity I’ll just call you “Mr. Scoutmaster”, even though you may serve in many Scouting roles. How’s that for generic? Welcome aboard, Mr. Scoutmaster!’
If you’re the seasoned veteran, sit back and enjoy. We’ll get to you in a minute … ! If you are the new leader, we better first give you a few helps to get you started. You old timers can listen in too, if you wish. Who knows? Maybe we can teach an old dog a new trick or two.
Hold on a moment, Mr. Greenhorn Scoutmaster, … and don’t panic! You can do it! Those first few weeks on the job may be a little traumatic but after that, it’s all fun! If you can just make it through the initial shock you’ll be great. So take a minute now and get a good breath. …
There! … Now that you have relaxed a bit, it’s time to get started.
Whether you’re a Den Leader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity Coach, Venture Advisor or even District Executive, you’re in for an exciting adventure in Scouting. Congratulations and welcome aboard! You’re to be commended, Mr. Scoutmaster, for your willingness to serve. It takes a special kind of person to serve today’s young men. You have ahead of you, a heap of work, a few tears, and a lifetime of memories.
Whether you realize it at this point or not, yours is an enviable position. Just think of your potential in the lives of boys! That’s right: You now have in your power the opportunity to reach out, to help, to serve. You can be a lasting and powerful influence in the life of a boy. You’ll soon be indelibly etched in the lives of many a youth struggling now to become a man. You’ll be their hero and their friend forever. Sounds a bit awesome, doesn’t it!
I started my own Scouting career at least a hundred years ago as a Cub Scout. Since then I have had some wonderful experiences along the Scouting trail.
A few years ago, I took the initiative to plan a reunion for former Scouting friends from good old Troop 155. It took some effort but I located the addresses for many of those friends I’ve known along the way and whom I hadn’t seen for many years. I decided that while I was at it, I might as well invite everyone whom I could remember being associated with the Troop over the past twenty five years.
Prior to the reunion I wrote to all the guys and invited them to come and share an evening of Scouting nostalgia. I urged everyone to send some of their own Scouting memories for inclusion in a troop history to be presented at the reunion.
There were some skeptics who didn’t think the evening would ever come off but with a little work it turned into a fun filled evening loaded with nostalgia. Over 75 people turned out for the grand affair. In the crowd were former Scouts, several of the troop’s Scoutmasters, parents, wives and friends.
It was interesting to see how everyone had changed over the years. Some had put on a little weight and a few had lost their hair. For the most part though, we could recognize everyone. Some of the guys were a bit more mellow and refined than had been the case in previous years, but that mischievous spark was still evident in most of the gang.
It was fun also to have our wives there and to show them off to each other I was pleased that my wife really went all out to make herself gorgeous for the evening. I think some of the guys were somewhat surprised that a “fat kid” like me could do so well. (I really wasn’t fat … that was just how I had seen myself. Funny how we can talk ourselves into believing that negative stuff.) I think that all the guys present had done okay in the wife area. There were a few guys that were still bachelors and of course they got ribbed by the rest of us.
We started the evening’s festivities with a dinner. We could have assigned the meal and had everyone involved but we decided that we would prepare it all so that no one would have excuse for not coming. We went all out with a delicious barbecue with all the trimmings. Like old times, our former Scoutmaster, Jim, was willing to give his all and volunteered to provide the meat for the occasion.
After the meal we had everyone stand up to introduce themselves. Each Scout or leader present also got a chance to share some Scouting memories with their introduction of themselves. A lot of war stories were shared. The more stories shared the more fun that evening became.
I shared a troop history that I had prepared and this seemed to stimulate everyone to thinking of “those good ol’ days”. The passage of time had made even some of the challenging times seem jolly and exciting. Some of the war stories shared by the troops were a real hoot. Boy, we had some fun times back then in Troop 155.
Some of the wives and parents present learned a few things about their Scout that came as quite a revelation to them. That added to the excitement of the occasion and made for even more laughs.
The special thing about the evening was seeing the progress that each Scout had made in his life. As a leader working with boys it is sometimes difficult in the trauma of the moment to see beyond the rotten dirty-faced kid in green khakis to that same boy as a man.
That night at the reunion, it was evident that Scouting had made a lasting impression on all of us present. For those of us who had served as leaders, the evening became especially meaningful. It was a neat experience to see what Scouting had done in the lives of those rotten little kids of years ago. We finally saw some of the results of our efforts which we had thought at times were fruitless.
Scout after Scout stood and recited the effect that Scouting had had in his life. It was with sincere pride that we could realize our influence upon the men present. That’s when those long ago aims of character development, fitness, and citizenship training came together in a grand realization that perhaps we had accomplished something, after all. Suddenly all the effort back then was worth it.
With all the laughs and reminiscing of special moments shared, some of us shed a tear or two. After everyone except Scoutmaster Jim and I had gone, he and I had a quiet moment together. The dishes were done and the place was cleaned up. I tried to get him to divulge the amount of money that he had spent on the meat so that I could pay him and square away the budget.
Jim was his usual generous self and wouldn’t give me any monetary figure. (He hasn’t changed over all these years!) He always was a little on the emotional side, but it was evident that he’d been especially touched by the special evening we had just experienced. Tears came to his eyes as he blubbered, “How can you put a dollar figure on something like that?” I knew just what he meant. I felt the same way. I had to fight the tear in my own eye.
What a special experience we had enjoyed. All our work and toil and discouragement of the past now had paid off. It was a neat thing to realize our impact on many a boy. My feelings for this great man were even stronger as I realized and appreciated the sacrifice he and others had made for me.
So you see, Mr. Scoutmaster, that’s what you have to look forward to!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpt taken from his “Scouting Trails” Book: “KEYS TO SCOUTING LEADERSHIP“ at Scouting Trails. Connect with Kevin and read his article: “A Hundred Years of Scouting and What it Has Made Me” in The Boy Scout
© Kevin V. Hunt 2016