The Boy Scout and the scoutmaster sit down by the campfire ring for a scoutmaster conference. The sun is shining brightly. The birds are singing. A squirrel watches them from his high perch in a nearby pine tree.
During the conference the scoutmaster asks, “What is the Boy Scout Motto?”
“Be prepared!” the Boy Scout quickly replies.
“Be prepared for what?” the scout leader asks.
The Boy Scout thinks for a moment. Be prepared for next month’s camping trip. For the rain that is bound to happen during a hike. For giving first aid if someone gets hurt. For helping a neighbor when needed. Finally he answers, “Be prepared for everything!”
“That is a good answer.” The scoutmaster smiles. “But everything is a lot to be prepared for. How can you do that?”
The smile vanishes from the Boy Scout’s face as he looks to the ground. He thinks to himself, how can a person be prepared for everything? The scoutmaster is patient as he watches the young man concentrate. Finally, the Boy Scout’s gaze returns to the scoutmaster. “Learn about a lot of stuff?” he asks. “Like first aid, camping skills, knots, and other stuff that we learn in troop meetings?”
“Yes,” the adult leader says. “Anything outside of Scouting?”
The Boy Scout thinks for a second. “Well, school, I guess. My parents. Other adults. Books maybe.”
“Very good.” The scoutmaster smiles again. “Knowledge is a key. Pay attention in class and what people tell you. Learn from them, even if you find the lesson to be boring. You never know when that knowledge will help you later in life.”
The Boy Scout’s smile is reaching from ear to ear. “And always pay attention to what is going on around us. So that we don’t get surprised or caught off guard. Right?”
“That is right”, says the scoutmaster as he pats the boy’s shoulder. “So, if we quickly sum this up…”
The Boy Scout sits up straighter as the sunshine radiates from his face. “To be prepared a Boy Scout should learn about as much as he can about as many things as he can.”
The unseen squirrel nods his approval at the Boy Scout, then turns away. It is time to find a few acorns.