The 13th Point -- A Scout is Hungry

Posted by Troop 138 Webmaster on June 6, 2012 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The 13th Point -- A Scout is Hungry

Most Scouts --and many people-- are aware that there are only 12 points to the American Scout Law, a listing of statements about the goals of the American boy that enters the "circle of friendship" called Boy Scouting. Those are the official words, the 12 sets of POSITIVE statements that explain what a Boy Scout should strive for, what is expected of him by his peers, faith, and himself.

What a Scout is.

Scouts do not enter into those agreements lightly. We educate them during the process of becoming a Scout. They know from other kids--and perhaps from TV or the movies -- of some of the "rules". It has come out only recently [note: this was originally written in 1988 before the first round of public objections to the usage of the Scout Law to "remove members and leaders from the movement"] that this all could somehow be held "against them" if they chose to ignore what they promised "on their honor" to do. We do not do a good job of telling our Scouts about the history of the Scouting movement in this nation or any other or about the words they mouth each and every week like robots.

For instance, in the old days, when a Scout was dishonest, he simply came to his Scoutmaster, explained the situation, and tearfully handed over his Scout badge to the Scoutmaster. This placed the Scoutmaster in a dual role of "close friend" and "judge". There were no questions, no ceremony. That is what Scouts did. If the Scoutmaster felt that the Scout deserved the badge, he returned it to the Scout; if not, the Scout would leave Scouting, perhaps feeling like Chuck Connors did in the start of the television series "Branded": he let his fellow Scouts down and set out to "make it right". The same went with the rest of the Scout Law points.

Likewise, when a Scout told someone "Scout's Honor", you could "take it to the bank", "bet on it", or equate it to "swearing on a stack of Bibles". It was THAT IRON-CLAD a promise. And believe you me, if you chose NOT to uphold THAT promise, you let ALL Scouts down!

Today, we don't make Scouts hand over their badges and the way I understand it, we are getting to the point whereby the Scoutmaster is no longer the "close friend" of each and every Scout and "judge" of their character. Today, we leave it to people whom do not know of the Scout, people whom have other vested interests in the Scout to tell us of the Scouts' character and friendship.

Most times, they fail to realize that the Scout CAN be held to a higher standard than "just a kid". Just like his father and his father before him was.

We do not hold our Scouts to that "Scout's Honor" credo because we ourselves are not altogether sure that children should be held to that high of a standard. "They are children, and children should be able to act like children, behave like children. And children do lie from time to time". "Scout's Honor" today is like "yeah, right", "don't bet on it", and my favorite, "sure".

We have started to turn the program over to others and we do not care about this turnover. "It's not my job" comes to mind.

So, since we have allowed our program to reflect today's lifestyles, with today's problems, it is only right that somehow those original 12 points be supplemented to reflect today's Scouting realities. One of those realities is that today's Scout CANNOT cook.

In our earlier days, part of the First Class requirements was that a Scout must prepare an ENTIRE MEAL (including dessert) for his Patrol and two other guests. This required him to know something about the various kinds of fires, cooking preparation tools, recipes and formulas and what happens when you run out of milk or eggs. It also required some knowledge of cleaning and rinsing as well as washing of hands and foodstuffs before preparation.

It even required you to know how to set the table.

Today's requirements have changed so much that now the Scout prepares nine meals, with help and with "prepared scripts" because in reality, nobody REALLY cooks because everything today is prepackaged, ready-to-cook and "all-in-a-box". We don't care about disease because we use plastic forks and spoons, and eat from aluminum trays. Therefore, little cleanup and we never get to teach how to build a grease pit. "We have to care about the environment, too".

Instead of taking perhaps all afternoon to prepare the dinner meal, it now takes five boxtops, two shakes and a fire for the popcorn.

Yet, even with all of that convenience, I STILL see Scouts hungry. Those are the ones running down the hill to the trading post after dinner for the hamburger and ice-cream sandwiches.

I see them because I'm in line with them.

Now before all of you Eagle Scouts show me your Cooking Merit Badge cards, send me letters about how you have won first prize at the Jamboree, or wowed over your parents one night, answer me this:

Have you made DINNER (not just "beenie-weenies" but an ENTIRE MEAL) for your DATE? How about for your BOSS? Did they leave SMILING (not doubled-over or in need of Pepto-Bismol)?

Did your prize Deepdish Three-Fruit Cobbler win -- no PLACED -- at your State Fair? At your County Fair? Did you enter it in the Pillsbury Bake-Off (and don't laugh...the way things are going there's BOUND to be a man to eventually win it...I strive to be that man one of these days!)

Well then, you, like me, are HUNGRY. Not just for food...but for KNOWLEDGE. The Thirteenth Scout Law states:

"A Scout is Hungry. He thirsts for the new challenge, the new opportunity that his world, nation, community and neighborhood places in front of him. He hungers for knowledge and the ability to appreciate new things, to see things in the eyes of others. He gladly shares his knowledge and experiences with others, and is ready for the benefit, that "dessert", in which after he shares his knowledge with others, that they in turn, do so with him".

Your challenge, fellow Scout, is to bake that Deepdish Three-Fruit Cobbler and to PLACE in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. It is to be able to cook, clean, sew and fend for yourself without the benefit of your parents, or your mate, or even the laundry and dry-cleaners. It is to educate yourself -- and others -- as to what Scouting really is, why it exists and what you have gained from it.

For if you choose NOT to do those things, eventually the program will be handled over to those that will want Scouting to be that program for the "rich kids", for the ones that can "afford to follow the Scout Law", because we all saw that "it can't be for EVERY kid that wants a challenge...they can't even follow the OLD laws!"

You must continue to challenge yourself. Better yourself. Walk one more mile than you did last year. Read one more book --and understand what you read -- than last year. Meet 365 more people -- and get to know them -- than you did this past year. You must never get full of education and learning and knowledge.

When I send letters to new Eagle Scouts, I always close with one of my favorite lines. I did not write this...authorship actually belongs to some fella at the BSA's Editorial Service. It appears on just about every rank card, though: "Don't forget to share your knowledge as you walk onward the Scouting trail". That's a great statement. It always reminds me that Scouting is just a game...but a game with a strong, important, goal: to get somewhere and to share what your learn as you get there.

Learn how to set that table, then do it for someone else other than your parents. Take that prized Dutchoven recipe and share with some older folks that remember what a cobbler SHOULD taste like. Talk with others --even those that do not share your views or your feelings or thoughts-- you will never know WHY they feel the way they do until you ask them. Read your newspaper and respond to issues that you care about. Use your knowledge and your skills to help others at all times. That's the Scouting way.

And learn to cook, both over a fire and over a stove.

(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)

Scouting Matters

Posted by Troop 138 Webmaster on May 9, 2012 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

My turn By Benjamin Pearce

Scouting matters to cub scouts doing a good deed to earn their Bobcat badge. Or when singing Christmas carols to the elderly in a county nursing home, and learning that you can feel better about yourself by helping other people feel better about themselves. Scouting matters when building a pinewood derby car that lost, then building another that won. Then learning that no one ever learned anything from winning. Scouting matters to the elderly and poor like collecting wheelchairs and food door-to-door for needy people. Learning that needy people can be a lot like us sometimes. Or serving food at church fund raisers, and learning that the best classroom in the world can be attended while listening to an elderly person. Scouting matters on weekend campouts with your friends. There you learned that you need to let your friends help you, to let them know that you need their support and that you’re not always as strong as you look or act. And that no matter how serious you life has become you are always going to need someone to act goofy with. Scouting matters to kids who could be tempted to make poor choices without their scouting buddies to bounce things off of. Scouting matters while life-long friendships are forged. Scouting matters when you go to meetings each week and recite the scout oath and law so often that you become the embodiment of those principles. If you tell yourself something often enough you become it. Scouting matters because the kind of adults our children will become is directly related to the kind of children we continually told them they were. Scouting matters when you take on a challenging community service project that seems overwhelming at first, then you learn what you are actually capable of and earn respect for your accomplishments and for yourself. Seemingly insignificant events like these turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. Events that turned challenge into achievement. Events that literally defined your character and turned you into a responsible adult. All because Scouting matters. In the end Scouting has taught me that it’s not about earning your Eagle Scout badge or the Silver Beaver, everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it. So success in life is in the journey, not the destination. Scouting matters to me and everyone in this program. What you do that one hour each week matters. It matters to our community, it matters to the boys and it matters to you. Many of you know that I have spent my entire adult life caring for the elderly. I have learned that failing health is a great equalizer among men. When they are laying in that nursing home bed and I am holding their hand helping them to pass, at that moment, it matters little about the size of their bank account, the kind of car they drove, or how nice their house was. Material possessions have no memory in death. What they all want to know at that moment, is did they make a difference on this earth? Did what they traded the days of their life for, in some way matter? So I say to each of you volunteers and professionals when you are drawing your final breath, let me tell you now, you can go assured knowing that what you did with your life mattered. And those of you out there reading this who are looking to make a difference in this world, join scouting through and volunteer. Scouting matters because what you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. Thank you for giving me the chance to help create that tapestry.

Yours in scouting, Benjamin Pearce

Heritage District Chairman, Warwick

National Geographic Traveler Article

Posted by Troop 138 Webmaster on May 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I Blame the Boy Scouts

By Boyd Matson

I’m not what you’d call a plant guy. Don’t get me wrong. I like looking at them; I want them in my yard; I appreciate what they do for the environment. But I’ve never been interested enough to learn their official Latin names. A simple, “Hello, fern; what’s up, rose?” have been sufficient—until today. We’re 30 hours and 12,000 feet into our climb up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak at 19,340 feet, and every five minutes I’m stopping our guide Wilson to ask, “What’s that plant? What’s that flower called? How about that tree?” He replies, “paper flower,” “everlasting flower,” or whatever common name applies. Not satisfied, I ask for the Latin names and then the spellings. I’m finding any excuse to get him to stop to talk, so I can catch my breath. On this, my third climb up Kilimanjaro, I already know what to expect: six nights sleeping on the ground, no bath for a week, cold wind, thin air, and maybe mild altitude sickness. I keep asking myself, “Why am I doing this, again?” Finally I come up with an answer. I blame the Boy Scouts of America. That organization stole my soul when I was a kid and planted it in the wilderness. I was too young to resist their clever sales pitch built around hiking and camping trips. And their system of rewarding accomplishments with higher ranks and colorful merit badges meant, in effect, there was always one more goal to reach, one more mountain to climb. Fifty years ago, as a Boy Scout, I climbed my first mountain, or rather what passes for a mountain in West Texas. Our troop was camping at Moss Creek Lake near Big Spring, Texas. Off in the distance, rising above the remnants of the Edwards Plateau, stood Signal Peak, a solitary, pyramid-shaped formation squared off at the top by what looked, to us kids, like a hundred-foot-tall limestone cap. Growing up 80 miles away in Midland, we were surrounded by a flat, featureless landscape. Seeing this monolith looming on the horizon 2,667 feet above sea level proved an irresistible temptation to us 12-, 13-, and 14-year-old boys out for a weekend of adventure and exploration. Signal Peak was three hours of trekking, thousands of prickly pear cactus, several dry creek beds, a few barbed wire fences, and a couple of rattlesnakes away. When we reached the distinctive crown of the peak, we squirreled through slits, cracks, and passageways to reach the top. From there, we viewed the world below for miles in all directions. For years I’ve talked about reliving my Signal Peak climb, and my need for a training hike to prepare for Kilimanjaro was the perfect excuse. My brother agrees to ride with me to Big Spring but has no interest in making the climb himself. Instead, book in hand, he says, “I’ll just read in the car while you go off looking for your childhood.” Remembering the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” I bring water for thirst, snacks for hunger, a headlamp for darkness, a fleece for the cold, a shell for wind or rain, and my cell phone in case of accident. I plan to drive to Big Spring, check into a motel, get a good night’s sleep, and then get up early and climb. I feel more prepared than back when I had my Eagle Scout badge stitched on my khaki uniform. About two hours outside of Big Spring, my plan goes out the window. Dark thunderheads chase us down Interstate 20. The storm, say radio reports, will bring lightning and possibly tornadoes. That’s when I decide to drive straight to the mountain and climb it before dark. A few dirt roads, wrong turns, locked gates, and no trespassing signs later, I park the car at 5 p.m., throw my cameras and cell phone in my backpack, climb over a barbed wire fence, and head for Signal Peak. In my haste, I inadvertently leave most of my “Be Prepared” items—water, jacket, headlamp—in the trunk of the car. Two hours later, I reach the base of the mountain with no time left to find the best route up, so I just start climbing. My route is steep in places with loose scree making the footing iffy. I have to carefully navigate several vertical rock outcroppings. Instead of adult eyes diminishing my childhood memories, I’m thinking: “We did this as kids?” As I near the base of the big rocky cap, the sun is setting, and I remember another lesson learned as a Boy Scout: “All successful adventures are round trips.” I use the last rays of sunlight to safely descend the mountain, missing the summit. The next morning, the storm having blown through, I try again, this time finding a better way up. Standing on the top, I think back over the past 50 years and reflect on how the Boy Scouts taught us to embrace the unknown, to test our limits, to push beyond the easy. The lessons went beyond climbing mountains, digging latrines, cooking over a campfire, or securing a tent in howling sandstorms or pouring rain, all of which we did. Instead, the outdoors was our classroom for life lessons about facing challenges and learning that the best rewards sometimes require a little pain and suffering. Kids spending their lives in front of computer screens may be missing those lessons. Does a virtual world prepare them to handle adversity that has real life consequences? That’s another reason I’m back on Kilimanjaro. I’m climbing with my 20-year-old son, Taylor. At 15,100 feet in our final camp before the summit push, he’s feeling ill and questioning why I brought him. I answer, “For a father-son bonding experience.” He says, “Next time invite me to the movies.” What I don’t say is that I want him to experience the thrill of accomplishing something difficult. The final eight hours and 4,000 feet to the summit are just that kind of test for Taylor. Headache and nausea make the slog extra slow and torturous for him. I’m sure he’s contemplating turning back with every step, thinking: “This is something my dad likes. Who cares if I quit?” But near the top I sense a change in attitude, a quickened pace, a new determination to finish no matter what. And when we are finally standing on the roof of Africa, I see in his smile that he is proud of his accomplishment. In fact, he’s so hyped about what he’s just done that he literally runs all the way, all 19 miles, back down the mountain. Although I’m equally elated, my own return, on old worn-out knees, is considerably slower. I use the time to again reflect on how I got here and thank the Boy Scouts for getting me up that first hill in Texas 50 years ago.

Contributing editor Boyd Matson hosts National Geographic Weekend on radio.