The Scoutmaster's Minutes -- Part 1
Here are a whole bunch of Scoutmaster's Minutes. These were provided
to me as one large file. My sincere thanks to Thomas B. Lerman Scoutmaster
Troop 719, Provo District, Utah National Parks Council, for indexing these
Scoutmaster's Minutes -- something that I probably wouuld never have gotten
to. I believe you will find some very useful material here to support
your troop meetings and other gatherings.
We've been talking a
lot about safety tonight, how to be safe ourselves and make our homes
and community safe. I think the lesson is partly exercising our common
sense and partly learning the skills of safety.
What do we mean by the
skills of safety? Well for one thing, we're talking about learning to
find the emergency escape doors and windows in a building like this one.
We tried to do that tonight. From now on it will probably be in the back
of your mind when you enter an unfamiliar building.
In other words, training
your mind to think safety is one lesson. Another is carefulness and common
sense. By being careful and using your common sense, you're not likely
to get hit by a car while crossing the street. Still, a lot of kids are
killed every year because they thought they could beat a car. Others die
in accidents around the home that could have been prevented with a little
more forethought. Still others get trapped in their burning homes, partly
because they hadn't planned escape routes.
Safety is not the most
exciting topic in the world, but it's a vital one for all of us to learn
and to pass on to our younger brothers and sisters. Boring or not, the
skills of safety are important. They may save your life or that of someone
You new Scouts probably
learned tonight that our troop neckerchief has other uses besides looking
good and showing our troop's colors. You found that it can be used in
first aid, too. Over the next few months, you'll find that the neckerchief
has other uses, too.
There's one use, though,
that you may not think of - and that's to remind you of the Scout Oath.
The neckerchief is a triangle, and its' three corners should remind you
of something you recently learned - our Scout Oath.
The Oath, you remember,
has three corners, too - duty to God and country, duty to others and duty
to self. From now on, every time you put on your neckerchief, it should
remind you of the things you pledge each time you repeat the Scout Oath.
Scouts, what's the second
point of the Scout Law? That's right, "A Scout is loyal. " Our
Scout handbook explains that a Scout is loyal to his family, Scout leaders,
friends, school and nation.
I'm going to add one
more thing to that list - a Scout is loyal to his team. The team might
be his patrol or sports team.
Your patrol or soccer
team can't be as good as it should be if you goof off a lot or constantly
complain about your teammates or your patrol leader or coach. A winning
patrol and a winning team, must have a winning attitude. That means that
every member must be willing to do his part and not spend time griping
because the patrol's plans or the game are not going his way.
That doesn't mean that
you have to be close friends with everybody in your patrol or team or
even like all of them. But it means that when you join, you commit yourself
to the success of the patrol or the team and pledge to give it your best
In Scouting and sports,
it's teamwork that makes winners. So whenever you're with your patrol
or sports team, remember, "A Scout is loyal".
Probably some of you
will earn the Sports merit badge this month. If so, the first thing you'll
have to do, is understand what sportsmanship is, because it's the first
requirement. I'd like to read you a little story from the Sports merit
badge pamphlet which sums up sportsmanship very well. Here's the story.
"In 1940, an underdog
Dartmouth football team played powerful Cornell, which needed only one
more victory for a perfect season and a number-one ranking in the country.
Trailing 3-0 Cornell scored a controversial touchdown that the Dartmouth
players insisted was made on an extra "fifth down". However
the referee counted the touchdown, and Cornell won 7-3.
But after the game,
Cornell officials watched the game on film and saw that, indeed their
team had been allowed and extra play. They immediately sent a telegram
to Dartmouth stating that they could not accept the victory. It went into
the record book as a 3-0 victory for Dartmouth. "
That little story tells
us what sportsmanship really is. It is the desire to play hard and to
win - but to win fairly - and if you lose, to accept defeat with good
grace. Let's remember that during our Sports Tourney and throughout our
lives. Also remember, that to be a good sport you have to lose to prove
Scouts, here's a little
quiz for you: What's the most welcome two-word sentence in the English
language? Some of you might say, it's "We won!" Others would
vote for, "Here's money!" But I think the most welcome two-word
sentence is "Thank you. "
It isn't used as often
as it should be. How often do you use it? And how often do you say thank
you to the persons who are closest to you, your mother and father? How
often do you say it to your friends or even strangers when they do something
It's so easy to forget,
especially if the Good Turn is done by somebody in your family. Too often
we take for granted the many things our parents and other family members
do for us. Next week we're going to have a family night for members of
our families. Here's a challenge for you. Between now and then, see if
you can find some reason to say thank you every day to some member of
your family. You may be surprised how they will react.
A simple thank you costs
nothing, but it means so much to those who matter most to you. And remember,
manners maketh man and can be the difference between you being just another
Scout and one who earns himself respect from those around him.
As Americans, we have
a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We live in freedom, most of
us have an abundance of food and clothing, and we all have adequate shelter.
We are as blessed as any people in the world, but sometimes we forget
that and gripe that we don't have even more. Let's remember that a lot
of the worlds population goes to bed hungry in homes hat few Americans
would want to live in.
So it's good to remind
ourselves occasionally that we are lucky and thank God for our blessings.
That's what Thanksgiving really is, a time to give thanks. The Pilgrims
started it more than 100 years ago when they gathered to thank God for
a bountiful harvest.
Today Thanksgiving is
a time for family gatherings around a groaning table followed by watching
football games. There's nothing wrong with that. But it's important that
we don't forget the real meaning of Thanksgiving. So when you sit down
with your family for Thanksgiving dinner, take time to count your blessings
and thank God for them.
Most of you probably
know somebody who has a physical or mental handicap. Chances are that
he or she functions pretty well in spite of it. A little limp isn't going
to keep anyone from living a full life, and a person who is a bit hard
of hearing probably will get along quite well with that handicap.
But some people have
severe handicaps. They might be legally blind, or completely deaf, or
have to use a wheelchair to get around. But we should understand that
they are people just like us, with the same needs, the same desires, and
- except for the handicap - the same capabilities we have. In other words,
handicapped people are more like you than different.
(If your troop will
do a Good Turn for handicapped people:) Remember that when we do our Good
Turn this month. When you meet a handicapped person, treat him or her
exactly as you would want to be treated. The person might need a little
help from you, but don't fuss over him. Do the minimum that's necessary
to help then back off and treat him as you would your other friends.
Those of us who are
able-bodied have a lot to be thankful for. But that doesn't make us any
better or worse than people with severe handicaps. We are all children
Christmas and Hanukkah
are, for the most people, the most joyful holidays of the year. The holiday
parties, the exchange of gifts, and the brilliant lights of the Christmas
trees make a guy glad to be alive at this season.
Sometimes we forget
that these holidays are really religious festivals. It's well to remember
that the real holiday spirit is cast by the Star of Bethlehem and the
Hanukkah candles, reminding us of the miracles in times past.
In the 12th point of
the Scout Law we say that a Scout is reverent. That doesn't mean that
he has to go around all the time with a long face or with hands folded
in prayer. It means that he does his duty to God, which includes doing
things for God's other creatures. We'll be doing that later this month
with our troop Good Turn.
Now remembering that
a Scout is reverent, let's close with the Scout benediction.
Well, Scouts, did you
make any New Year's resolutions? I hope some of you resolved to bring
up your grades in school and be more helpful around the house. I'm sure
your parents would be delighted with those resolutions.
In Scouting, we make
a resolution almost every time we meet. Each time we repeat the Scout
Oath or Law, we're resolving to do our best to do our duty and to make
ourselves the best citizens we can be. I'm inclined to think that resolving
to follow the Scout Oath and Law are the most important resolutions you
can make - now and in the time to come. The Oath and Law cover almost
everything that makes a good man and a good citizen. So, I think, as we
start the New Year, we ought to repeat the Oath and Law and think about
what we're saying. (Lead Oath and Law)
Tonight we've spent
a lot of time talking about ethics - about honesty and fairness and respect
for others. Now I'll tell you a true story about a Scout who showed what
those things mean.
His name is Andrew J.
Flosdorf, and in 1983 he was a 1st Class Scout in Troop 42 of Fonda NY
Andy was in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, competing for
the championship and a chance for a scholarship.
During a break in the
competition, Andy went to the judges and told them that although they
thought he had spelled "echolalia" correctly, he had mistakenly
substituted an "e" for the first "a" in the word,
which means a speech disorder. He said he discovered his error when he
looked it up afterwards.
By admitting the mistake,
that the judges hadn't caught, Andy eliminated himself from the competition.
The chief judge said, "We want to commend him for his utter honesty,"
and the crowd gave him an ovation.
But Andy didn't tell
them about his error to earn cheers. He wanted to win as much as the other
contestants, but he wanted to win fairly. "The first rule of Scouting
is honesty," Andy told the judges.
"I didn't want
to feel like a slime. "
I don't know what has
happened to Andy Flosdorf since then, but I'm sure of two things. He learned
one of Scouting's most important lessons, and gave us an example of honesty
and fairness that all of us should shoot for.
Who can tell me what
"salt of the earth" means? That's right, it means a person who
has a fine character and is a nice guy to be around. The expression "salt
of the earth" probably came from the fact that common salt improves
the taste of a lot of foods. As you young Scouts will discover while you
are working on your Cooking skill award, salt is used in many recipes
- maybe most of them for breakfast and dinner dishes.
Just as the salt improves
the flavor of many foods, a person who is the salt of the earth improves
the lives of those around him. He lives every day by the Scout Oath and
Law, even if he's not a Scout. He does his daily Good Turn and he deals
fairly with everyone he meets.
You can be the salt
of the earth, too, just by living the Oath and Law. Let's remind ourselves
of what it takes by repeating the Law now (Lead Law. )
A long time ago, a joker
said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything
about it. " That isn't really true anymore because scientists can
seed clouds with chemicals to make rain fall - if there are clouds , that
Next week we're going
to be outdoors, possibly in foul weather, for our Foul-Weather Cook-Out
(or See'n'do). It may be snowing or raining cats and dogs while we're
out there, but we'll be there just the same because this is not a fair
It may not be as much
fun as being outdoors on a sunny summer day, but it's part of outdoor
life, and as Scouts we belong outdoors. As long as you have a poncho,
warm clothes and a pair of dry socks and underwear in your pack, you can
enjoy bad weather, too.
At least I hope you
can. I like to see Scouts smiling in the rain because a real Scout is
cheerful even when things aren't 100% perfect.
The weather, and life,
aren't always predictable. One of the lessons you should be earning as
Scouts is to be prepared for foul weather as well as fair.
So the key words for
next weeks outing are "Be Prepared" and "A Scout is cheerful.
" If you follow that advice, you'll have a fine time, no matter what
the weather is.
(Have an apple and a plate
with a few apple seeds)
If I gave you a choice,
which would you rather have, the apple or the seeds? I guess most of us
would choose the apple.
A long time ago there
was a guy who would have taken the seeds. He was a nut about apple seeds
- so much so that people called him Johnny Appleseed. For many years he
walked across hundreds of miles of our country, back when most of it was
frontier land, and everywhere he went he planted apple seeds. The trees
from those seeds fed many thousands of people in later generations. That's
real long range planning!
Many of us are interested
mainly in the present. We don't think ahead like Johnny Appleseed.
Maybe you don't want
to go around planting apple seeds like he did. But there's another kind
of seed you should be planting every day - the seed of good feelings between
you and your fellow man.
You can do it by living
our slogan, "Do a Good Turn daily. " Every time you do a Good
Turn , you are planting a seed of good feeling. That seed may start the
growth of a tree of Good Turns in each person you help. So that one Good
Turn may lead to many other Good Turns through the years, affecting the
lives of hundreds of people.
Scouts, I'm sure you've
all seen a diamond. It's very hard, very bright and very beautiful. Most
of you have probably seen coal, too. It's dull black and it crumbles easily.
Now a little chemistry
lesson. Who can tell me how coal and diamonds are alike? That's right
- both are made from the element carbon. But a diamond has great value
because it is rare. I compare the diamond to a man of sharp mind, hard
body and shining bright spirit. The coal might be compared to a man who
is not mentally sharp, physically tough or spiritually bright.
Someone once said that
a diamond is just a piece of coal that stuck to it. Over many millions
of years, its brilliance was caused by the heat and pressure inside our
My hope is that like
that diamond you will stick to it by following our Scouting ideals. If
you do, you will become an example of what a man should be.
Once a long time ago
a hound was out with his master trailing a mountain lion. The hound came
to a place where a fox had crossed the trail, and the hound decided to
follow the fox instead of the lion.
A short time later,
a rabbit crossed that of the fox, and again the hound changed direction.
Why should he chase a fox when a rabbit might be easier to catch?
When the hunter finally
caught up with his hound, the dog was barking at a small hole in the ground.
The hound had brought to bay a field mouse instead of a mountain lion.
Well, how about you?
Have you set out on a trail to achieve your ambition? Are you able to
follow it, or are you sidetracked by easier trails that cross it from
time to time?
Don't be like that hound.
Find out what it takes to achieve your ambition, and then get started.
The best way to achieve anything in life is to set a true course for it
and then stick to that trail.
(Show a Scout badge. )
Scouts, where did the
design for the Scout badge come from? Did you know that it's from the
north point of the mariners' compass? Now why did Lord Baden-Powell, the
founder of Scouting, select that symbol for the first Scout badge? In
his book, Scouting for Boys, Baden- Powell told us.
He said, "It is
the badge of the Scout because it points in the right direction, and upwards.
It shows the way in doing your duty and helping others. "
In other words, just
as the north point of the compass helps us find our way in the field,
so the Scout badge helps us find our way through life.
So the shape of our
Scout badge should be a constant reminder to us of the things we pledge
when we say the Scout Oath or Law. Let's think about that badge and what
it means the next time we're tempted to do something we know is wrong.
(Show three or four short
pieces of rope)
These pieces of rope
are a lot like individual Scouts. You can use these ropes for knot tying
practice or for tying a small package, but they're not big enough for
really big jobs. (Call up two or three Scouts and asked them to join the
ropes together with square knots or sheet bends. ) Now we have a much
more useful rope, one we could use for pioneering or other jobs where
we need a good length of rope.
Your patrol and the
whole troop work the same way. Scouts who work together like these ropes
can achieve much bigger things. But remember that this rope is only as
strong as its' weakest link. The same idea applies to our patrols and
troop. They can't be strong unless everyone pulls together. Teamwork is
just as important in Scouting as it is on a football team.
Strive to a strong link
in your patrol. Do the best to live by the ideals we talk about in the
Scout Oath and Law. Learn your Scouting skills to the best of your ability,
and take part in everything the troop and your patrol do. Don't be a weak
Some years ago a hard-nosed
coach said, "Winning isn't everything, but it sure beats whatever's
second. " There's some truth in that. Everyone likes to win. Very
few people enjoy losing.
The trouble is that
in every type of competition, there must be losers as well as winners.
That's true in sports and it's also true in the competitions we will have
next week at our camp-out (or camporee).
It's also true in life.
You and every other human being find that sometimes you have to be a loser.
Perhaps your sports team loses a game on an unlucky break. Or maybe you
work hard in school but get low grades. Some people might say you're a
Maybe so. But you don't
have to stay a loser. The real difference between winners and losers is
that a loss makes some people more determined to do better next time.
In the long run they are the winners because they learn to profit by their
defeats and mistakes.
No, winning isn't everything.
We can learn from losses, too. Let's remember that at the campout and
in the years to come.
Probably all of you
know some guy who is grouchy all the time. His neighbors try to be nice
to him, but he just won't be friendly. Maybe he'll build a great wall
around his house to keep people away.
Let me tell you about
another kind of neighbor I heard about. There was no wall around his property,
and somebody noticed that a strip of grass between his yard and his neighbor's
yard was unusually green. How come? He was asked.
"Oh," he laughed,
" my neighbor and I are so afraid we'll cheat each other that we
always water and fertilize the grass across the line on the other fellows
side. That strip of grass down the property line gets twice as much water
and fertilizer as the rest of our yards. " Instead of a fence to
keep each other away, that man and his neighbor had a vivid green reminder
that they were friends.
The point of this story
is that if you want to have friends, you can't build walls between yourselves
and other people. Instead, cultivate that space between you by being as
fair to the other guy as you'd like him to be to you. A Scout is friendly,
and the way to have friends - and keep them - is to be friendly yourself.
In the year 1805, some
plotters tried to set up a new government in some of the southern states.
When the plot was discovered, the traitors were tried for conspiracy against
the United States government. One of them was Philip Nolan, an Army officer.
During his trial, the president of the court asked Nolan whether he wished
to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the United
States. Nolan replied, "Damn the United States! I wish I may never
hear of the United States again!"
He got his wish. Nolan
was put on a Navy ship with instructions that he should never hear the
name of his country or get any information about it. Years went by. Nolan
became a changed man. In his heart, he had an intense love for the US
Philip Nolan finally
died. A note with his last request was found in his Bible. The note said:
"Bury me in the sea, it has been my home and I love it But will not
someone set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams or at Orleans, that
my disgrace may not be more than I ought to bear? Say on it: 'In memory
of Philip Nolan, lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved
his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserves less at
her hand. ' "
Everett Hale (1822-1909) was the nephew of Edward Everett and the grand
nephew of Nathan Hale. Hale was a forthright Unitarian pastor, known for
his strong opposition to slavery. He is best known for his fictional story
``The Man Without a Country'', which was so realistically written that
readers thought it was true. -- Thanks to Daniel W. Roffee
I'm sure you've all
heard of the IQ and know it stands for intelligence quotient. It's supposed
to be a measure of intelligence. Probably you've taken IQ tests, although
you may not have known it, so that your school would have some idea of
how bright you are.
The experts aren't all
in agreement that IQ tests are all that accurate, but they apparently
do provide at least a rough measure of intelligence. In theory, at least,
your IQ score won't very much from childhood to adulthood.
Maybe you can't do much
about your IQ, but there's another kind of test in which your own efforts
will raise your score. I'll call it your "FQ" - your Fitness
Quotient. By regular, vigorous exercise, and by having good health habits,
you can lift your FQ score many points.
In doing the fitness
tests for the Physical Fitness skill award and the Personal Fitness merit
badge, you establish your present FQ score. If your scores on those tests
are just about average or below, I suggest you make up your mind to raise
them much higher. All it takes is a decision to do it, and then - most
important - following through on the exercises and health habits that
will do the trick.
If you do that, by the
end of the summer your Fitness Quotient will be much higher than it is
In the patrol leaders
council, we often talk about the skills of leadership. Patrol leaders
who have taken the junior leader training course know even more about
them. Of the 11 skills of leadership, I believe the most important is
setting the example. There's an old saying that sums it up well. It goes
something like this: "What you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear
what you say. " In other words, don't tell me what is right; show
me by your example.
It seems to me that
when it comes to setting the example, we are all leaders. Even if you're
not a patrol leader, the way you conduct yourself will rub off on your
patrolmates. If one patrol member goofs off and is sloppy in his habits,
there's a temptation to say, "Well, Brian gets away with it, why
That may be human nature,
but it's not the nature of a good patrol or a good troop. A good patrol
and troop have to work like a team, with every member setting a good example
of Scoutlike behavior. Let's keep that in mind always, but especially
when we're in summer camp (or on tour). Let's show our pride in our troop
and in ourselves as Scouts and young men.
Scouts, what do the
following merit badges have in common: Canoeing, Motorboating, Rowing,
Small-Boat Sailing, and Water Skiing? I'll give you a hint - they all
have the same first requirement.
You guessed it. All
those badges require that a Scout be classed a "swimmer" before
he even gets started on the badge. It's pretty obvious why you must be
a swimmer before you can go out into the deep water in a canoe or other
As I think you all know,
to be classed as a swimmer you have to be able to swim 100 yards, do the
elementary backstroke, and be able to rest in water by floating. To those
who swim well, that's a piece of cake. To those who don't it could be
You're not going to
able to go canoeing or rafting until you can meet the test. We're going
to spend time this month helping the non-swimmers and beginners so that
by the time of our Water Rendezvous, most of you - maybe all - will be
able to swim the hundred.
Being able to swim well
will unlock the door to those other badges. It will also give you a life-long
sport, one that you will be able to enjoy for many years after you no
longer have the ability to play other sports. That's one of the reasons
we go swimming now. The other of course is that it's fun.
Every year about 200
Scouts earn medals for saving life. A lot of them performed water rescues.
Probably you've read about some of those rescues in the Boys Life feature
called "Scouts in Action".
Do you suppose all those
Scouts who saved people from drowning were great swimmers? No, not necessarily.
Some of them may not have even been very good swimmers because - remember
- you try to reach, throw, or row to a drowning person before you jump
in and swim. Many medals have gone to guys who didn't swim at all, but
who were able to act when everybody else was panicking, and tossed a rope
or reached a pole to the person in trouble.
We've been practicing
the reach, throw and row water rescue methods. Those of you who have the
Lifesaving merit badge also know the Go method.
So all of us should
be prepared to help somebody who is in trouble in the water. If you're
not, practice some more. Then you'll be ready when you're needed.
With great regret we
announce the loss of one of the councils most valuable families - Mr.
& Mrs. Someone Else have moved away, and the vacancy they have left
will be hard to fill. The Elses have been with us for many years; they
have done far more than their share of the work about the council. When
there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, their
name was on everybody's lips: "Let Someone Else do it" Whenever
a committee was mentioned, this wonderful family was looked to for inspiration
as well as results: "Someone Else will set up the event. " And
when there was a trip to take Mr. & Mrs. Someone Else were thought
to be the best transportation: "Let Someone Else take them. "
The Someone Elses are
wonderful people, but they are only human, they could spread themselves
only so thin. Many a night I have sat up and talked with someone and heard
him wish aloud for more help in the council. He and his wife did the best
they could, but people expected too much from them. We have to face the
fact that there were just not enough Someone Elses to go around. And now
the Someone Elses are gone and we're wondering what we are going to do
without them. They have left us a great example to follow, but who will
follow it? Who is going to do the things that someone else did?
Tonight we've been learning
how to find directions on a map and use the compass to stay on course.
By now I hope most of you can orient a map and use map and compass to
travel in unknown country.
In Scouting we have
another kind of "map and compass. " They are the Scout Oath,
Law, motto and slogan. They are excellent guides for traveling through
Whenever you are wondering
what's the right thing to do, consult those "maps and compasses.
" They won't always provide and easy answer. Sometimes you will have
to think through your decision, but it will be easier if you ask yourself,
"What if I act according to the Scout Oath and Law?" Chances
are the Law will help to show you the right thing to do.
Next week we'll be outdoors
again, and it's good to remind ourselves that Scouts obey the Wilderness
Pledge whenever they are hiking, camping, or on other activities away
from the meeting place. You should be familiar with the Wilderness Pledge.
It says, "Through good camping and hiking practices, I pledge myself
to preserve the beauty and splendor of Americas' wilderness, primitive
and backcountry areas. I commit myself to:
Set a personal example
in following the Outdoor Code.
Train those I lead in
the skills and attitudes needed to protect and preserve wilderness for
Assure that parties
of which I am a part observe the camping and hiking standards that will
leave no trace of our passing. "
It seems to me that
what it boils down to is that in the Wilderness Pledge we commit ourselves
as Scouts not only to preserve the environment but to make it better.
For example, not only don't we leave litter ourselves, we pick up other
peoples litter. And we not only build safe fires, we try to make sure
that others do, too. In other words we take responsibility as Scouts to
do whatever we can to keep America beautiful.
That may seem like a
tall order. Nobody enjoys picking up other peoples litter. It's a lot
easier to just say, "Boy, what a mess!" and pass it by. But
that's not the Scouting way.
On all our hikes and
campouts, let's leave the land better than we found it. That's Scouting's
Scouts, our theme this
month is called, "Moving on the Scouting Trail". What do we
mean when we talk about the Scouting Trail. That's right, it's the path
that leads from Scout rank through First Class up to the Eagle Scout badge.
Very few guys make it all the way. The only ones that do are guys who
can set a goal and then work hard to achieve it.
One way to get started
toward the goal is to set yourself a more modest goal. If you're a Tenderfoot
now, make up your mind that you're going to earn Second Class in time
for our Court of Honor at the end of the month - or at least by the Court
of Honor in February. The Chinese have a saying that is appropriate here.
They say, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
That's a good thing
to remember, not only in Scouting but in life, too. You can't progress
if you never get started.
You're going to have
plenty of chances to pass advancement requirements in our troop meetings
this month - and every month.
Take advantage of those
opportunities. We're also going to concentrate on advancement during our
campout late this month. That's another chance to get moving on the Scouting
It's my hope that by
time our February Court of Honor rolls around, every one of you will be
a rank higher than you are today.
You remember that in
September I mentioned Robert Baden-Powell, the British general who started
Scouting a long time ago. He had a lot of good advice for Scouts, and
now I'd like to read what he had to say about honesty.
He said, "Honesty
is a form of honor. An honorable man can be trusted with any amount of
valuables with the certainty that he will not steal it. Cheating at any
time is a sneaking, underhanded thing to do. "
"When you feel
inclined to cheat in order to win a game, or feel distressed when a game
in which you are playing is going against you, just say to yourself, "After
all, it is only a game. It won't kill me if I do lose. One can't always
win though I will stick to it in case of a chance coming. "
"If you keep your
head in this way, you will very often find that you win after all from
not being over anxious or despairing. And don't forget, whenever you do
lose a game, if you are a true Scout, you will at once cheer the winning
team or shake hands with and congratulate the fellow who has beaten you.
(Show a carpenter's plumb
Does anybody know what
this is? That's right it's a plumb line. Carpenters and masons use a plumb
line to make sure their work is perfectly straight and vertical.
Supposing you were building
a brick wall and you built it just by guesswork. Then I came along with
this plumb line and laid it against your wall. Both of us could see the
wall was crooked if the plumb line told us so.
You might get mad about
it and throw my plumb line as far as you could. But that wouldn't make
the wall any straighter, would it?
In Scouting, we have
another kind of plumb line, and in a way it shows us how straight we are.
Scouting's plumb line is the Scout Oath and Law. They tell us how to build
our lives straight and true. When we don't follow the Oath and Law, we
know it, don't we? If we've been untrustworthy, disloyal or unfriendly
to someone, our plumb line - the Scout Law - is there in the back of our
mind to remind us that we are not building our lives in a straight and
The Scout never lived
who never once violated the Scout Oath and Law. But those pledges, our
plumb line, should always be our guide.
We've been talking about
the Constitution and the freedom it gives us as citizens.
But how free are we?
What does freedom mean? Does it mean we can do anything that we want?
I think we will agree that the answer is no. Freedom of speech for example,
does mean that we can go into a crowded theater and yell "Fire!"
And freedom certainly doesn't mean that we can steal from people or assault
them without fear of being arrested, tried, and perhaps thrown into jail.
As somebody once said, "Your freedom to swing your fist ends just
beyond the tip of my nose. "
So what does freedom
mean in the sense of the Constitution? It means, I believe that we are
free to live according to the laws of God, free to worship as we choose,
to speak and write the truth as we see it, to choose our life's work,
and to travel where we want to go - and to grant the same rights to others.
The Constitution does
not give us unlimited rights to act without regard to other people. But
it does guarantee us the right to live as free men in a society whose
citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.
Well, Scouts, the new
year is here and it's time for New Year's resolutions. In other words,
as our theme this month says, it's time for a fresh start.
I don't know whether
you make New Year's resolutions, but if you do, I hope that one of them
is to move up Scouting's advancement ladder. Next month we'll be having
a Court of Honor, and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of you receiving
awards then. I'm especially hopeful that those of you who haven't moved
up a rank since last spring will get busy this month and do it in time
for the Court of Honor.
All it takes is determination
and some work, I'm sure your patrolmates will help you, and of course
our leaders will, too. But you have to make the effort, no one can do
that for you.
So let's have a fresh
start from everybody in the troop this month so that every Scout is called
forward at our Court of Honor in February.
It may seem funny to
say so, but you're very lucky that is hurts when you hit your finger with
a hammer. If it didn't hurt you could be in big trouble.
It's a rarity when a
person can't feel pain, but it does happen. Some years ago, for example,
there was an eight year old boy in England who couldn't feel pain. For
some reason, his nerves, did not signal pain to his brain.
If you think he was
lucky, think again. The problem could cost him his life. Once he was seriously
burned by a red-hot oven door, but he didn't even know it until he was
So it is clear that
physical pain can save us from mortal danger. But there is another kind
of pain, too, and all of us here can feel it. It's a spiritual or moral
pain, and it's called conscience. The conscience is one of our greatest
gifts. Without our conscience, we would not know enough to keep from getting
burned in even more serious ways than that English boy.
So as the old saying
goes, "Let your conscience be your guide. " It will help you
to know whether you are following the Scout Oath and Law. You have no
better friend that your conscience.
Our theme this month
is called "Scouting is Alive," but I think it ought to be "Scouting
is alive and well and living in (your community). "
I guess the theme is
supposed to remind us that 78 years after the first troops were started
in the United States, Scouting still offers fun and adventure to boys.
Certainly that's what we do in this troop.
But maybe this is a
good time, as we think about this theme, to ask ourselves, "Are we
alive in Scouting?" Do we take part in all patrol and troop activities?
Are we advancing on the Scouting trail? Are we trying to live by the Scout
Oath and Law? In other words, are we "alive" Scouts? Or are
Late this month we're
going to have a court of honor to recognize those Scouts who have earned
advancement and shown the Scout Spirit that is required to make this troop
alive and well. I hope that each one of you will be on the list to receive
a rank advancement, merit badge, or other award.
Let's remind ourselves
that every time that we repeat the Scout Oath, we pledge, "On my
honor, I will do my best. . . " That's a good guide for living, not
just in Scouting but in everything we do.
Did you know that you
have millions of brothers? Who do you think they might be.
That's right, Scouts
all over the world. We often speak of the World Brotherhood of Scouting,
and that's exactly what it is - millions of boys and men who are divided
by nationality and religious belief, but united in the ideals of Scouting.
Many millions of those
brothers of yours in Scouting are very poor. To help them enjoy Scouting,
the Boy Scouts of America has a special treasury called the World Friendship
Fund. Through that fund, your brothers can get training materials, tents,
even uniforms in some cases. It's one way we can show our loyalty to Scouting
and our brotherhood with other boys and men.
At our Family Party,
we are going to ask you to give a small amount to help our brothers. If
you can afford a dollar, give that. If the best you can do is a quarter
or a dime, fine. But I hope everyone here will try to contribute something.
We in the United States
are amongst the luckiest people on earth. Some of us may be poor, but
nearly all of us would be considered wealthy by the standards of some
other countries. Show your appreciation for your good fortune, and your
willingness to help other Scouts, by bringing something for the World
Friendship Fund to the party.
Did you know that car
manufacturers try out there new models on some of the worst roads in the
world? They can't find any ordinary roads that are bad enough for the
purpose, so they build special tracks with ruts, bumps, and potholes that
are incredibly bad.
Now why do they do that,
do you suppose? That's right, they want to give their cars the toughest
possible test so that they can learn about the weak spots. The idea is
that they will fix the weak spots before the cars go on sale.
Are you like a new car
model that never was tested? Are you cheerful when the going is easy but
a grumbler and griper when there is trouble? Are you like a shiny new
car that falls to pieces when it gets a tough road test?
In a way, Scouting is
like a road test. We challenge ourselves with rugged backpacking trips
and other adventures to see whether or not we can take it. As Scouts we
like to find out what our limits are, and if we find weak spots, we try
to correct them.
That way, we'll be ready
for life's bumps and potholes. Then people will say of us, "Those
guys can take it".
One of the goals of
Scouting is physical fitness, and we've been paying special attention
to it this month. It's fun to test yourself against standards to see how
fit you are and to compete against other Scouts in fitness games and contests.
Bit there is a more
important reason for all this physical activity. It's to make you fit
for life. If you become physically fit now, the chances are you will be
physically fit when you reach full manhood.
You should remember
though, that physical fitness is not just being strong and athletic. It's
also knowing how to take care of your body - what to fit it, how much
rest it needs, and what not to put into it. I'm thinking, of course, of
drugs, alcohol, and tobacco smoke.
Probably you'll face
a lot of pressure in the next few years to try drugs, smoking, and alcohol.
No doubt some of you already have.
Some guys you think
of as friends will actually tell you that trying drugs is cool. Actually,
it's about as cool as sticking your hand in a campfire. Don't learn that
the hard way. Stay away from drugs and drinking and stay fit for life.
Scouts, if your rank
is between Second Class and Life, take a look at your badge of rank. What
do all those badges have in common?
That's right, they all
have the "Be Prepared" scroll with a knot dangling from it.
. Does anyone remember what the knot is supposed to remind us of?
Right again. It's a
reminder to do a Good Turn every day. If the knot could talk, it would
tell us of billions of Good Turns stretching back over 88 years. Are you
adding a chapter to that story each day?
Our troop often does
big Good Turns for our chartered organization or the community. But does
that mean that you can forget about Good Turns the rest of the time? Of
course not. As Scouts you have pledged to do a Good Turn daily. Obviously
that doesn't mean you have to spend several hours on some major project.
But it does mean that
at home, in school, and when you're with friends you will go out of your
way to do a simple kindness - take out the garbage without being asked,
help a buddy with his homework, or run an errand for your mother without
Those little Good Turns
make life more pleasant for other people. They also add another link in
that long string of Good Turns going back to Scoutings beginnings.
Every once in a while
when you're working on a pioneering project, you'll find a spar that looks
great but that turns out to be weak and unreliable.
Maybe its' center has
been eaten away by insects. Or maybe have natural splits inside that you
can't see. You can test a spar for soundness by holding one end and rapping
the other end sharply on a rock. If it's sound you'll hear it ring.
Some people are like
defective spars. They look great on the outside and they may have appealing
personalities, the kind of guys and girls you think you would like to
know. But when you do get to know them better, you find that they're like
a defective spar, weak inside. They don't have the strength of character
to resist things that you know is wrong, and chances are they will want
you to do those things, too.
When that happens, do
the same thing you do when you have a defective spar - cast it aside and
find a sounder one. In other words, choose friends who are solid to the
(Show a leaf of a tree or
Tonight we've been discussing
the oxygen and water cycles and how food chains support life on earth.
We've learned that this little leaf can work a miracle.
Who can tell me what
the miracle is? This leaf is a food factory - it can make food by using
the sunlight to turn nutrients
from the soil and carbon
dioxide into food. And at the same time, it produces the oxygen that we
and wildlife must have to live.
Life could not exist
without the miracle represented by this leaf and all the other plants
that can perform the miracle.
What's the point in
this lesson in biology? The point is that because we can't survive without
plants, it is in our own interest to make sure that this food factory
survives. And that's why we must
fight pollution and
why we must practice conservation like planting trees and shrubs. The
whole idea is to encourage these little food factories to produce food
and oxygen for wildlife and ourselves.