June 5, 2018
Scouting is like a Golf Ball
When golfing was first invented, the ball they used was perfectly round and smooth.
However, each time the ball was used; it would get little dents in it from being hit with the iron clubs. The dents didn't look very good, and probably were thought of as damaging at first. But it didn't take long for the golfers to realize that the MORE DENTS the ball had, the FARTHER and STRAIGHTER it flew. Soon after, using the dented, experienced golf balls as a model, they began to manufacture golf balls with the dents already in them. Thus the golf balls we have today will fly much farther than any of the first golf balls they started with, because they have learned from the experienced golf balls of the past.
Scouting is a LOT like a golf ball. Each time we learn a new skill, or earn a merit badge, or even when we try to learn something and don't succeed the first time, it's like adding another dent or dimple to our golf ball. The more skills we learn, the more experience we gain, even if we fail sometimes, the more dented our golf ball becomes, and the farther and straighter we will be able to soar down the course of our lives. Maybe that’s why most Eagle Scouts seem to soar farther and straighter than others. It's not the Eagle rank itself, it’s all the little dimples and dents working up to it that taught him how to fly.
Setting High Goals
On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy stated, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to man-kind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult to accomplish.”
On July 20, 1969, he succeeded when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. A total of twelve (12) astronauts walked on the Moon's surface. 11 of the 12 men who walked on the moon were involved in scouting. They made lofty goals and planned for success. There are only 12 sets of footprints on the moon. Where will you choose to leave your footprints?
April 15, 2018
Everyone is the Arch's Keystone
When we learn about the mighty arch and its importance in construction, we usually focus on the keystone, that stone in the middle at the top of the arch. We all know how this stone supports all of the other stones and lets the arch support large weights.
Sometimes we think of our leaders as being that keystone; the one we all rely on. Have you ever thought, though, what would happen to the keystone if some of the other stones were removed? You could probably remove a few, but at some point the keystone would most certainly fall with the others and the whole structure collapse.
The same thing happens when all of those supporting scouts leave the leader to shoulder the burden alone. Remember, the keystone is just one of many that make the arch work!
April 10, 2018
The Weakest Link
You've heard the saying "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link". That's absolutely true. With a strong chain, you can pull a car or lift a heavy load - you can perform many great tasks. But, if you try to lift something that is too heavy, one of the links will break - the weakest link will let down the rest of the chain.
In Scouting, each scout works on personal advancement to strengthen himself and improve his skills. Personal advancement increases the strength of each link in our chain so we can accomplish more.
But, there will always be a weakest link. No matter what the task at hand, some person will be less skilled than the others. Someone will not be able to tie a certain knot, or kindle a fire, or hike as fast, or recite as well as the others. At some point, each of you will be a weakest link - I guarantee it! Being the weakest link is not a shameful thing - it is an opportunity for improvement.
One of the best things about Scouting is that our "chain" is better than a simple metal chain. When we have a task to do, we are not really limited by our weakest link. The other stronger or more skilled or more experienced links support the weaker links. They help them, teach them, and guide them. As a result, we accomplish much more than if we each just did our specific task and left the rest.
Do your best to not be the weakest link - for yourself and for your patrol and for your troop. Learn skills, take on challenges, grow! But, be aware that around here the weakest link one day might be the strongest the next - and the strongest may be the weakest.
April 3, 2018
Immaturity of the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain most responsible for self-regulation and decision-making—can make it hard for teens to regulate their emotions and make good decisions. Peer influence, which can also impact good decision-making, is particularly potent between the ages of 12 and 14.
But teens can be taught emotional skills, like how to take a “meta-moment” – a pause between being triggered and responding—to delay decision-making in order to choose a better path. This is especially important on social media where an impulsive act can have a wide reach. They can also learn to check in with themselves to become more aware of whether or not hanging out on social media makes them feel connected and happy, or sad and excluded. They can then choose either to maintain the feeling or do something to change it.
Today’s teens must also learn to focus and manage their attention. Technology expert Linda Stone points out that continuous partial attention, or paying a little bit of attention to a lot of stimuli, mimics an ongoing state of crisis—breathing becomes more shallow and the mind hyper-alert. In large doses this behavior can make people feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, and powerless.
Teens are also learning to manage their time—an ability that takes a dip at ages 12-14. Helping them set goals and screen out distractions will help them control their own attention, complete tasks while preserving their energy, and stay in more conscious control of their focus.
What does this mean to you?
Upon hearing the Scout motto, someone asked Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell the inevitable follow-up question.
“Prepared for what?”
“Why, for any old thing,” he replied.
In 1907, Baden-Powell, an English soldier, devised the Scout motto: Be Prepared. He published it in Scouting for Boys in 1908. (Two years later, in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was founded.)
In Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell wrote that to Be Prepared means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”
From ranks Scout thru First Class, your main focus will be learning valuable skills. Tonight we learned about first aid. Do you anticipate a specific time you will be called upon to help render assistance? Probably not, no one knows what the future holds. But I promise you that if you are called to demonstrate your skills, you will rely upon much of what you have learned in scouting. Both your patient and yourself will be glad that you were prepared.
Often times, young boys from the Cherokee tribe were sent from their village in search of a vision. This was the case of one particular boy.
The boy started to go up to the top of the mountain in search of his vision. As he climbed up the mountain, the air got cooler and cooler. He came upon a snake laying in the path. The snake was shivering and said to the boy, “Please help me. I cannot move, I am so cold that I can no longer make it any further down the mountain.” The boy said to the snake, “No way! You’re a snake. If I pick you up, you will bite me!” The snake replied. “No, no I won’t. I promise I will not bite you if you’ll only pick me up and help me get down the mountain.”
So the young boy picked up the snake, put him in his shirt and continued climbing to the top of the mountain is search of his vision. When he got back down the to the bottom of the mountain, he reached in, took out the snake and the snake bit the young boy. The boy said to the snake “Hey! You bit me, you said that if I’d help you out, you wouldn’t bite me!” The snake grinned and replied, ”But you knew what I was when you picked me up!”
What do you take away from this story? The young boy knew the dangers of the snake but decided to pick it up anyway. He made a conscious decision that turned out to be incorrect and he was surprised when he was bitten.
How often are we in similar situations? Every day, we are exposed to safety decisions. How well do you consider the potential consequences before you act? This past weekend, we experienced two such snakes on our Pioneering campout. Whether it is working with flammable fuel or unattended open knives, you are faced with making decisions that relate to safety. I encourage all of you to think before you do things. Sometimes the snake doesn’t bite you. But sometimes it does and then it will be too late.