Living the Good Life- Scouting
Congratulations to those young men who recently earned their Eagle Scout badge, scouting's highest honor, awarded to only a few who dare to endure. And congratulations to their parents who placed these fine young men early in their youth on the scouting path. A particular greeting of gratitude goes out to all adult scout leaders who blaze the scouting trail, from Tigers to Eagles. Your dedication to training the children of our community in character and life skills provides them the knowledge to face their futures with confidence and courage. Your sacrifice helps ensure their understanding of how to live a life filled with purpose and service to mankind.
I remember when I was a scout. Camping trips were definitely the most fun. I remember that I enjoyed and became quite proficient at making fire. I was always the first one back to the campsite after a long day of hiking in the woods just so I could gather the wood and start the fire. The Scout Master would always scold me for making the fire too big. Of all the merit badges I earned, the Fire Safety badge wasn't one of them
I remember spending all day in the woods hiking for miles through hill and dale, sportin' a coonskin cap, walking stick, and pocketknife. We were expected to identify a variety of flora and fauna, something that can still be accomplished while throwing pinecones at the troop. I spent most of my time stalking and catching snakes and lizards. Only now-some forty years later-do I admit that it was I who put the lizards into the sleeping bags of the unsuspecting victims. Lying in my sack, hand on head, I waited patiently for the show. I was always suspected as the culprit for always laughing myself to sleep, but I never 'fessed-up. Most of my buddies got to checking their sleeping bags before they jumped in, which is a good habit. Reptiles like warm, dark places.
I never took to map reading much. I took more pleasure in getting lost. I remember that during one camp-out, we spent most of the day building a rope bridge across a fairly good-sized creek. When it was completed, I took more delight in jumping off the bridge, than crossing it.
Scouting was the first time I had ever put together the series of words "helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent" in one phrase. The most challenging part was saying, "I promise to be" in front of them all. Like beacons from a lighthouse, the scout pledge, a lifelong gift to oneself, guides the scout through and around life's thorny path.
Scouting taught me that, together, we can do anything; that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link; that we are stewards of nature; that God dwells in my heart; that I should treat others as I want to be treated; that poison ivy and athlete's foot gets worse when you scratch it; that vinegar will sooth a bee sting; that leaves are no substitute for toilet paper; that if you find one tick on you, you've probably got more; and that being prepared helps to prevent "Charlie Foxtrot."
I didn't get too far in scouting-maybe to 2nd class-but I sure had fun. As a Cub Scout Master and Boy Scout instructor and advisor, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to re-walk my scouting path and that of my son Ian, who is, and will always be, a Life Scout.
I think that we need more scout leaders and other youth leaders now, especially in these days when culture is decaying our youth's morals while encouraging a "get it all while you can," culture and a lifestyle that values consumption over frugality, irreverence over reverence, greed over gratitude. We need to teach more youth to value those virtues and that the current unbridled tech-frenzy will eventually strip away our humanity towards each other and will ultimately leave us looking for identity in the lens of a web cam.
We have a critical shortage of scout and other youth leaders in our community. The Cub Scouts is a great way to start teaching our children what they're not getting on TV, with video games, iPods, or cell phones. Without leadership, our youth will continue to walk a path provided by the mass media of pop culture that more often than not glorifies glamour and celebrity, rather than the skills of kindness and self-reliance. Since fewer of our national leaders no longer serve as fit examples of those virtues, since too many of our professional athletes cheat to enhance their skills, and since too many pop music celebrities still sing songs containing lyrics that glorify violence, we have no choice now but to look to adults within our own community who still dare to take a stake in our community's future.
Volunteering our time for the youth in our community by scouting, Little League, our recreation department, and the many mentoring opportunities, is investing positive energy towards a task that makes our world-and even more relevant, our community- a better place to live. Realizing the dividends, a caring community helps bridge the gap between the folly of youth and responsible adulthood. Previous generations realized that if they didn't take an active and personal interest in their youth, the time would come when things just would just go "Ga-Ga." Sure enough, the time has come, and sure enough, she's a star.
Getting our kids involved in community youth programs and leading the way-all part of living the good life.