Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Boy Scouts of America

I have been gathering info for a post about the Boy Scouts, since they were in the news this week. I have more than I think can fit into one post, and since the big decision from Wednesday got more or less put off for a couple of months, I thought I could put info together under less urgency. But then I realized today is the anniversary of the founding: Boy Scouts of America was founded February 8, 1910, so the organization is 103 years old. So, today we'll celebrate, and save controversy for another day.

The cake from our Eagle Court of Honor back in 2005
The purpose of the organization is to raise boys into men—men of integrity and honor, men who will be valuable contributors to our civilization. The organization has been pretty effective at meeting this goal. The oath and law provide some of the method:
The Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
 To do my duty to God and my country
 and to obey the Scout Law;
 To help other people at all times;
 To keep myself physically strong,
 mentally awake, and morally straight. 

A Scout is:
  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.
If you know what civilization looks like, and the qualities a person needs to acquire to positively contribute to making society civilized, could you come up with a better list? I’ve tried to do that at Spherical Model. Generally, obey the Ten Commandments. I’ve included on occasion a couple of other lists, like the one in I Corinthians 13, paraphrased here:  

·         be long-suffering
·         be kind
·         don’t envy
·         don’t be self-important
·         don’t behave unseemly
·         don’t be self-centered
·         don’t be easily provoked
·         think no evil
·         avoid iniquity
·         rejoice in truth
·         bear difficulties with patience
·         believe in God and truth
·         be hopeful
·         endure 

The lists for “how to be civilized” are similar enough that I think it’s possible to say that we know what behavior is required for a civilized culture. But all of the behaviors are not what you’d call natural for 12-year-old boys. They need to be taught, and they need to be able follow the model of men who have grown from uncivilized rowdy boys into fine and honorable men and fathers. 

Mr. Spherical Model was a scoutmaster for many years (and still has a volunteer role with the troop), starting well before our boys got through their cub scout years. Our older son got to the level of Life Scout, next to the highest rank. He reached that at 13, and then we moved, and the new local troop wasn’t as good at advancement. He came close, just before turning 18, at finishing the requirements for an Eagle, but college classes and work got in the way. Still, it was a good accomplishment, and the principles took root. For our second son, Mr. Spherical Model became the scoutmaster again. This was a challenging troop, made up of bright, quirky characters—who had a history of taking on the challenge of doing in adult volunteer leaders. But in Mr. Spherical Model they had met their match. And most of these young men earned their Eagle rank, including our son Economic Sphere. Today they’re educated, working, married—and surprisingly civilized. 

The photo is from Shawn Rogers' Facebook page;
he and his son were in that jamboree crowd
Only 5% of young men who begin scouting eventually reach the rank of Eagle. But some troops are much more successful than others. My assertion is that the successful ones combine more religion into the teachings. Yes, they go camping and learn woodsman and survival skills. But they take a minute at their meetings and around the campfire to develop the young man’s spirit. Not all really good men can be a good scoutmaster, but a scoutmaster has to be a really good man. 

In another post I’ll talk about the membership controversy that’s going on. But today, let’s just honor this organization that has gone about the business of inculcating the next generation with civilizing principles with remarkable success for over a century.



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