One of the joys of being a scoutmaster is watching the boys grow up and hopefully taking some of the things they learned in Scouting along with them on their life’s journey. It is great when former Boy Scouts stop by for a visit and we talk about the fun they had while they were a Scout, and how being a Scout has helped them in their adult life. Many of my former Scouts now have families of their own, are doing well with their careers, and a few have even found their way back to the Scouting program.
While a boy is in Scouting we try to instill in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. We try to get them to live by the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace guidelines when we are camping. We ask them, “What have you done for a good turn today?” “Are you prepared?”
As adult leaders we try to provide a program of learning, friendship, and fun. But a Boy Scout troop is only one influence on the young boy who is rapidly becoming a young man. His family and parents are the biggest influence on his life. Then add school, sports, and other extracurricular activities to the equation. Finally, add his friends. As we quickly realize, Scouting is one of many parts that help to shape his life.
I have noticed that with most boys some the values of Scouting stick with them. But not always. Once in a while I will hear of a former troop member who left the Scouting path and turned down the wrong trail. Some have fallen into alcohol or drug abuse. Some have gotten into trouble with the law through shoplifting, or worse. A few have become fathers before they were married and ready to settle down.
The public perception of Scouting sometimes seems to believe that once a boy becomes a Boy Scout he will be a near perfect young man who is always helping others through his kindness. As adult leaders of the program we understand that will not always be the case. We provide one influence in his life. Hopefully, that positive Scouting influence will be strong enough to overcome some of the negative influences a boy will happen across.
Do you have a story to share about how Scouting has helped your life or someone you know? Leave a comment and share it with us.