I was at my family doctor just last week to get my annual physical done so I could attend summer camp with the Troop as well as participate in some high adventure activities we have planned this summer.
When he walked into the exam room, he saw the BSA Medical Form next to me, and said “You’re still doing this, huh?” It was a fair question given that both of my children are now adults, and no longer active in Scouting. I responded that I was still quite active, helping out and active with the Troop, as well as the Pack, and a few other things.
This is a question I often get from people outside of Scouting or from past volunteers or parents who are no longer active; “Why am I still active?”. I am sure several of my fellow leaders in this room also have been asked this question.
The answer is quite simple. Because it’s important. It was important over 110 years ago with the Boy Scouts of America was founded, and it’s just as important today.
Many people’s view of Scouting is limited to the boys and girls that help out in the community, the ones that run the annual food or clothing collection, the rare lifesaving award that appears in the local paper, and the Eagle Scout projects that get done each year. While all this is true, after all the Aims of Scouting are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness; this isn’t why Scouting is important.
Scouting is important because of the skills it teaches young people. Not the fire building, knot tying, camping, or tree identification skills, but the skills that they will be able to use for their entire life. These are the skills that we begin to teach them from day one in the program.
- Skill #1: I promise to do my best.
- Skill #2: I promise to do my duty.
- Skill #3: I promise to help other people at all times.
- Skill #4: I promise to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
These are the words found in our Scout Oath. Our commitment about our current and future behavior. We do not recite this oath in secret, we recite it at every meeting, every Scouting event, and every ceremonious occasion. It’s stated aloud, in front of witnesses, so that everyone knows what is expected of us, and more importantly, what we expect of ourselves.
Our common oath is the fabric that binds us together as Scouts, but more importantly it goes beyond Scouting and reaches into our families, our communities, and into our society. The oath begins with “On my honor.” Three words that define our moral, ethical, and philosophic core values.
Not every Scout that participates in the program will reach Eagle Scout, but each and every young person that spends time in this program learns our oath. Each Scout will learn why Scouting is important, even if they or their families don’t yet realize it. These young men sitting before us today, and the millions of other Scouts in this country and around the world are why Scouting is important. They are the purpose and reason why I and hundreds of thousands of other adult volunteers “Are still doing this.” It is our goal to help them become the kind of men and women that they aspire to be, instilled with the values of our Scout Oath and Scout Law. To prepare them to make ethical and moral choices over their entire lifetime, not just while they are a youth and a Scout.
As a Scout grows in the program, they learn the values of hard work, trying new things, problem solving, being a team member, interacting with adults, and having a lot of fun. As they mature, they learn how to communicate effectively, how to be a leader of others and themselves. They become more self-confident, self-reliant, and aware of their natural abilities and talents, and a desire to be the best kind of person they can be. They learn to be the example for others to follow. That is why Scouting is important.
Scouts require a safe, positive, and healthy environment in which to learn these skills. Scouts learn from their older peers, and adult advisers and mentors. Scouts learn by the example set before them. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting said, “There is no teaching to compare with example.” Regardless of our own children still being in the Scouting program, there are still young men and women that require us to be an example. That is why we are all “still going this”, and that is why we continue to keep doing this.