I once wrote that as an adult Scouter we need to watch the language we use, and be sure to not use bad language in front of the boys. After all, if we use foul language then what right do we have to tell the boys not to use it?
We also need to be aware of the words we use in regular speech. Be aware of what you are actually saying, and how you say it. Younger Scouts may believe virtually anything you say and could take it very literally. I am sometimes amazed that things I say “off the cuff” are the things that the Scouts remember.
Beware of how you pronounce your words, or you may find your Scouts picking up your bad speech habits, or worse yet, start teasing you about them. Here are a couple examples that happened to me.
I was invited for supper by a family that had two boys in the troop. As we sat around the table for the meal, I noticed the younger of the two Scouts begin to use the word “basically” a lot. In fact, he was drawing attention to the word as he used it. And he was using it a lot. It suddenly dawned on me that I had been using the word quite a bit when I talk to the Scouts. This Scout was poking fun at me! We all had a good laugh about it, but needless to say, I basically stopped using the word for awhile.
The Cougar Patrol made a career of picking up my little language quirks. I never realized that I answered the phone by saying “yellow” instead of “hello” until they started using it on me.
The troop, lead by the Cougars, once worked one of my ways of speaking into a skit during our annual Laughs For Lunch Show. It seems that I would say “not chet” instead of “not yet”. All the boys involved with the “Is It Time Yet?” skit said chet instead of yet during the skit. They thought the inside joke was hilarious. I think the audience thought they had a speech impediment.
The best example of young Scouts believing everything a scoutmaster says happened to me during a troop committee meeting. During a discussion, one of the mothers stated that her son said something like, “Well the scoutmaster said it, so it must be true.” Another mother chimed in that her son was the same way. “The scoutmaster said it so that must be the way it is.” It was at that moment I realized the power that language has over the younger Scouts, and the power that a scoutmaster has in general.
Peter Parker’s uncle said in the first of the Spiderman movies, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well, I do not know if being a scoutmaster counts as one having great power, but I do know the position comes with great responsibility. We need to think before we speak, and talk good, or basically we can expect to have the Scouts talking just like us. Whether we like it or not.