Good Scout / Bad Scout

on July 29, 2009 in Scouting

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.

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    3 Responses to “Good Scout / Bad Scout”

    1. Liberty says:

      I think it is important to remember that Scouts are human. Scouts may have an advantage of being introduced to the Scout Law and Oath, but they will still make easy choices instead of right ones, be impulsive instead of thoughtful, or sometimes just turn down the wrong road altogether.

      That doesn't mean those young men have lost their way permanently. When I met my husband, he hadn't participated in the Scouting program for almost four years. He wasn't living up to the Scout Oath or Law – at all. To be quite honest, he wasn't a very nice person at that time in his life and he made a lot of poor choices.

      Over a year after meeting him, he convinced me (I was very grudging, he wasn't the sort of person I wanted to hang around) to take a walk with him. As we walked through the woods, he turned to me and said, "This isn't who I was raised to be. I am not really this person. I'm an Eagle Scout."

      I had no idea what that meant. I'd heard of Boy Scouts, but I didn't have an inkling what an Eagle Scout was or what it meant to have walked the path necessary to earn that achievement.

      "Be my friend," he continued. "Let me show you who I REALLY am."

      Like night and day… he became the brave, strong, courteous, kind, reverent, TRUSTWORTHY person he knew he was and should have been all that time. We obviously not only became friends, but so much more. Fifteen years of marriage later, I am grateful he remembered his roots.

      He is still human. He still makes mistakes. He still sometimes takes the easy path or lets unfortunate impulses rule his actions, but I will say this: every day he does a good turn. Even on the bad days. I look up to him and admire him greatly.

      He is an Eagle Scout.

    2. Scoutmaster Steve B. says:

      Thanks for sharing that Liberty. That is a great story about life.

    3. regen2 says:

      As an Eagle Scout, I can state that being a Boy Scout helped me understand leadership, responsibility, and honor. Though I've made quite a few mistakes in the decade-plus since I made Eagle, I keep coming back to these values. I love what Liberty shared above! I hope that I can help the Scouts as much as they have helped me.

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