What does Scouting mean
to you? Do you have a story? Did someone impress you, move you to become
a leader, change your life? Read some of these tributes, and then send
me your story.
He made me proud to be Black,
a Scout, and a veteran all at the same time. I observed him as he carefully
held the arms of the wheelchair, assisting the fragile old woman from her
seat and into a waiting automobile. She must have offered him a tip for
his kindness, as he closed the door of the car.
"I'm sorry. They won't
let us accept anything for our work. Besides," I overheard him state as
he sat down in the chair and turned it toward the ramp, "I'm a Boy Scout
and I couldn't take it if I could. Thank you, though. Have a good day!"
*That's* what got my attention
I followed the young man,
now in the company of a chunky white kid with reddish-brown hair. He too,
was seated in the wheelchair that once sat another visitor to the Harry
Truman Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. The two
boys are part of Truman Volunteers, donating their time during the summer
months to escort the once able-bodied of veterans of our wars and military
service and their spouses. They take vets in, out and around the regional
medical facility, in part due to the fact that the original handicapped
entrance was torn up as part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the
aged old military hospital.
The two boys were racing,
trying to be the first one back to where the "rest stop was". I slowed
them down by asking where was the personnel office located. The black
kid did a "wheelie" with his chair, lifting it slightly as he performed
what for me would be a dangerous manuever.
"Where are you a Scout
at?", I asked. I then added "I volunteered at a hospital once....didn't
last too long, though."
"In town", the Scout responded,
and then gave me directions to the personnel office.
"Hey Kenny", I replied,
reading the nameplate below the VA nameplate on his maroon smock. "How
did you hear about this work?"
At first, Kenny was surprised
that I knew his name, but after touching his nametag briefly, he then
replied "My dad told me about it. I love it!". He then got out of his
wheelchair, parked it alongside several others, and then added, "Lots
of guys have jobs that pay. I have a job that gives me smiles...and it's
As if someone turned on
the "too much fun" alarm, a matronly older woman came barrelling around
the corner from the wheelchair area, almost yelling "Okay boys, we hired
you to work, not sit and play! Third floor center!"
I watched as the two stopped
playing and as if they were being given a top secret assignment, they
adjusted themselves and guided a wheelchair apiece up the hallway toward
the elevators. The matronly woman told me again where the Personnel office
was and I was on my way in that direction.
Hoping to see Kenny or
his friend after I completed my business -- looking for a possible new
job -- I returned to the information booth in the lobby. It was empty
and the lights were off. I returned to the rental car, checked my watch
and started to drive back out and up the hill to join my wife at the University
hospital where she has applied for jobs at.
Out my rearview mirror,
though, I looked at the empty "waiting area" at the top of the ramp where
I saw Kenny and his workmate at a couple of hours ago. For a slight momment,
I knew what William Boyce felt when he couldn't find his Unknown Scout
When so many people are
crying that we've losing our youth to the streets. When so many people
are saying that we still have racial problems. When so many people are
complaining about the effectiveness and costs of our medical care.
I think that President
Truman, Bill Boyce, and Baden-Powell are all raising glasses of wine to
those two boys...and others...whom are taking a summer to be of service
to others. That's what being a citizen is all about. What equality is
That's what Scouting, in
a large part, is about.
-- Thanks to (MAJ) Mike
L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
As a boy I joined the Boy Scouts,
and thanks to the adults, my parents included, who took time to lead our
troop, we learned our lessons well, and had fun at the same time. During
that time I earned the rank of Eagle Scout, and became a leader in the troop.
Several years later I was drafted into the Army. The training I received
there was rugged, but I was prepared for it, because I was a Boy Scout.
When I was sent to Viet Nam, the conditions there were primitive, as well
as dangerous, but I was prepared, because I was a Boy Scout. I returned
home from Viet Nam and started my family. I knew how to help with many things
at home, and had many good examples of how to be a good parent, because
I was a Boy Scout. When My community started a volunteer fire department,
I joined and quickly became a leader, learning new skills and sharing old
skills with others. I was prepared to do this because I was a Boy Scout.
Recently I came upon an automobile accident with a young man trapped inside
unable to breathe. I was able to save his life because I was a Boy Scout.
Every day I thank God for sending the Scout leaders who taught me the skills
of Scouting and of life, and how to learn and to share my skills with others.
Today a touch of silver streaks my hair, and my joints complain when I strain.
I don't know just what tomorrow will bring, but I know I'll be prepared
to meet it and succeed, because I am a Boy Scout.
-- Thanks to Jim Hubbard
Eighty-one years ago today
Europe was being convulsed by a terrible war with shocking casualties
on both sides. By Christmas Eve in 1915 both sides had become well practiced
in trench warfare. In many ways it was a grim time and for many it seemed
that hope was lost.
Yet on that night, a young
German soldier somewhere along the line in France sang out the words of
a Christmas carol in his native tongue. Others joined in and the canons
and guns fell silent as all strained to hear in a brief respite from the
war. In answer an English soldier from Kent and his comrades sang God
Rest You Merry Gentlemen. The Germans began singing Stilla Nacht (Silent
Night) and the lads from Kent joined in singing in English.
As the carols continued
to fill the night in two tongues, another young German soldier advanced
unarmed across no-mans land with a flag of truce. And one by one the men
on both sides advanced unarmed into no-mans land where they traded cigarettes,
chocolates, and stories. Some played soccer under the light of star shells
and others brought musical instruments to share in song.
In that brief night the
frozen fields of France were warmed by the songs of peace and hope. The
First World War continued on for three more years, and though not repeated
again, this night was well remembered by all.
Some would later describe
it as miraculous that there was such a spontaneous laying down of arms
among the soldiers. Others saw it as evidence that even in the worst of
times, we could still find a way to be able to live in peace.
In my own religion's celebration
of Christmas it is customary to exchange happy greetings and the glad
tidings of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men. And as I consider the
meaning of these tidings, it seems to me that it is also a time to remember
that another soldier whose fame was from an earlier time was also hopeful
that we might find a way to have peace on earth and to have goodwill among
all. Baden-Powell with death approaching left a series of four letters
to be opened after his passing. In his letter addressed to brother Scouters
and Guiders when the world was again convulsed in a World War, he described
the aim of the movement he had started:
"Its aim is to produce
healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing
narrow self-interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and
to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in
the cause of humanity; and thus to develop mutual goodwill and co-operation
not only within our own country but abroad, between all countries.
"Experience shows that
this consummation is no idle or fantastic dream, but is a practicable
possibility -- if we work for it; and it means, when attained, peace,
prosperity and happiness for all. . . ."
And so I would ask all
of you to take inspiration from the Christmas Eve experience in 1915 and
BP's dying words to recognize that among us all there is hope for peace
and goodwill among all made more real by the love we share for Scouting
and Guiding around the globe.
Perhaps the greatest gifts
exchanged during the year are the ones each of you give to the young people
you serve daily and weekly in Scout or Guide meetings and activities.
My thanks to all of you who have shared around this virtual campfire over
the last year and for all the wonderful things you have done to deliver
the promise of Scouting to young people. Peace be with you all and may
you enjoy a wonderful new year full of challenge and joy.
Speaking only for myself
in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
We were searching for a youth hostel in Lyon, France. We were dressed
in class A uniforms. We were confused and must have looked it.
A woman approached us and
said her son was a Scout and asked if we needed help. I told her the address
we were looking for. She tried explaining it to me, but the directions
She finally smiled and
said "Follow me". She literally took me by the hand, and rode with us
on the subway, transferred once to another train, and put us on the correct
bus, telling the bus driver where we were to get off, and drawing me a
walking map of how to get to the hostel from the bus stop.
She really went out of
her way to help us. We all thanked her as she disappeared into a crowd.
I call her the "Unknown Mom" who helped a Scoutmaster and his Scouts (lost
in a "mental fog") find their way. Without the uniforms, she probably
would have never approached us.
While on a two week trip in Mexico, we were riding on a train when a large
group of Mexican Scouts boarded. They were in full uniform, we were not
in uniform at the time. They brushed past us.
We were saving our uniform
for the jet ride home (We'd already worn them a few days earlier). We
went into the next car and put on our Scout shirts. One Mexican Scout
saw us and soon we had 40 Mexican Scouts swarming all around us wanting
to trade patches and talk with us. Instant friends within seconds.
We were attending a Bruce Springstein concert "Born in the USA", in a
park in Paris, France. We were in full class A uniforms hoping Bruce might
spot us in the crowd (we were only 30' from right center stage) and also
because we were born in the USA and wanted everyone to know it. Some chemically
altered concert attendee decided it would be cute to rip the American
flag off the shirt of one of our Scouts. When he realized he was surrounded
by American Scouts and Scouters, he sheepishly grinned, apologized, and
quietly retreated into the crowd.
In Rome, Italy we had stopped one evening for pizza on our way to the
Trevi fountain. I thought it would be fun to see the Trevi Fountain lit
up at night (we had seen it in daylight the previous day). We were in
class A uniforms. This was just days after an American TWA jetliner had
been hijacked from the airport in Athens, Greece in 1985. Fringe groups
were coming out of the woodwork with anti-American demonstrations.
As we ate our pizza some
American college students saw our Scout shirts and came over to converse
with us. We talked of the recent crisis and about some anti-American sentiment
that was surfacing. The students said they were leaving Rome after dinner
because they were afraid. I asked them why. They said one of the reasons
was the anti-American rally taking place that night at the plaza surrounding
Trevi Fountain. My Scouts turned and looked at me questioningly. I decided
it would be a better idea to skip Trevi Fountain that night and stay at
the hotel writing post cards and watching American re-runs on TV (dubbed
Wearing the uniform overseas
can be a positive or negative experience, depending on the circumstances.
I have always had overwhelmingly positive experiences, with just a few
potentially bad ones.
We always wear class A's
on airline flights.
-- Thanks to Cliff Golden,
Scoutmaster Troop 33; DeKalb, Illinois
By J. Corpening,
ASM Troop 226
This speech was given
at the District Banquet, February 16, 1996, Boy Scouts of America, Coastal
District, Cape Fear Council
As I worked on my remarks
for this program, I reflected on my life -- and on the people and things
that have played a significant role in my life. Certainly my family--my
parents, my brother and sister, my wife, and my children, have exerted
considerable influence over me, although my wife is beginning to question
how much influence she has in the face of 6 boy scout weekends in a row.
My church and my profession have significantly affected my life.
Two other individuals have
affected my life in ways beyond their wildest imagination. Charlie Rigsbee
from Durham and Deane Taylor from Winston Salem, my Scoutmasters. I had
not consciously thought about them in several years, until Jim Taylor
stood up to introduce himself at the Scoutmasters fundamentals course
in December, and said "I'm Jim Taylor, and my life is Scouting". The life
of these two men was Scouting, and Jim immediately reminded me of Deane.
These two men led me, inspired me, prodded me, kicked me, along the trail
to Eagle and adulthood. Charlie Rigsbee led me to believe that at 13,
I could hike 50 miles in 5 days between Christmas and New Years. He was
so convincing that I did it, one of only 17 to complete the hike out of
a group of almost 130. In other words, he convinced me that I could do
anything I set my mind to, a valuable lesson in life.
Deane Taylor added the
finishing touches, guiding me through Star, Life and Eagle, encouraging
me and others in our troop to work at our summer camp, Raven Knob; encouraging
me to be active in the OA, eventually urging me to run for chapter and
lodge office in Wahissa Lodge. I will never forget the pride in his smile
and in his voice, as I came out of the woods following an appearance as
Meteu in an ordeal ceremony, after I had put my heart and soul into that
appearance as I knew he expected me to do. Another adult leader turned
to Deane and said: Who is that young man? Deane replied, that's one of
my boys. His boys gave their best -- another valuable lesson in life.
So, to a large extent,
it is because of Charlie and Deane that I stand before you tonight, an
Eagle scout, an elected official of this district; and as one of you,
an Assistant Scoutmaster. So I would like to dedicate my remarks tonight
to Charlie and Deane, and through them bring you words of thanks, encouragement
In order to make my point
tonight, I need to share a little more with you about the impact of Scouting
on my life, sort of a personal testimony about Scouting.
I fought, and my Scoutmasters
with me, many of the same fights you face in keeping boys involved in
Scouting: Sports, gasoline, and perfume. Sports takes perhaps the greatest
toll, because it attracts our youngest Scouts, when everyone can still
play, before teams have cuts, when they are able to play basketball, football,
soccer, baseball, swim team and others.
Sports and Scouting had
profound influences on me, and my Scoutmasters encouraged both. Sports
have always been and continue to be important to me. While in high school,
I lettered in 3 sports my junior and senior year. I had the good fortune
to start on a basketball team my senior year which reached the state quarterfinals
in division 4a. I continued to play basketball competitively until knee
surgery about 6 years ago.
I learned a great deal
about myself and other people from competition and being on a team. I
learned that perceived physical and emotional liimits could be exceeded,
that a team, working as a team, can accomplish what individuals cannot
(does that sound familiar?), And I learned something about what Ken Hayes,
my basketball coach, called intestinal fortitude, or guts. I learned how
to stand tall in victory and defeat, to lose without crying and win without
crowing. I learned that good sportsmanship is the number one rule of any
game. These too, are valuable lessons.
My Scoutmaster at the time,
Deane Taylor, encouraged my involvement in sports. He came to some of
my games, cheered me on. He encouraged me to come to meetings, even though
I was 16, then 17. He made me feel needed. He understood I was tired,
and the conflicts I faced. But he understood the importance of a well
rounded young man. And he understood the importance of Scouting, and he
understood the aims of Scouting: To build character, to foster citizenship,
to develop fitness. Developing fitness can be done through organized sports!
Deane Taylor made my basketball team an extension of his work with me,
a part of the process, a piece of the puzzle to fulfill the aims and promise
of Scouting instead of a competitor.
And now, at 41, as I reflect
back on the lessons and memories of my life, all the wonderful experiences,
lessons and memories as an athlete pale in comparison to the life lessons
learned in Scouting. Scouting, more than any other activity or organization,
helped mold me into what I am today, and continues to affect me each day
of my life, many times in ways I never expected. Some of the early lessons
learned as a Boy Scout are rules to live by, an oath or promise, a law,
a motto, a slogan. Words of high calling: On my honor, I will do my best,
to do my duty.......
Each day since learning
those rules I have had a chance to apply them in my decision making. Sometimes
I have done better than others but the fact remains that these simple
rules of living help each of us be a better person and citizen.
But the impact of Scouting
on my life was greater than this. I learned many technical skills that
I use today -- knot tying, first aid, camping, cooking, map and compass,
swimming, lifesaving, canoeing, sailing, and many others. Each time I
use my boat I call on knot tying and map and compass skills. I have used
first aid many times, at home, on my boat, even at work, when a lawyer
had a heart attack in my courtroom I was the only person in the building
trained in first aid. Beginning with second class and continuing through
my service as aquatics director at Scout camp, I had to learn how to react
in an emergency, how to stay calm, and finally, how to be able to at least
give someone a chance to live. And that night, following that lawyers
death, I suddenly realized that I was prepared, that I had done my best,
I had done my duty. The CPR worked, the lawyer had been alive when I handed
him over to the paramedics. He had a chance because I was a Scout.
In Scouting I had my first
exposure to public speaking, learned what it means to be a citizen, a
good citizen, and learned to be a leader. I learned the easy lesson that
leadership is an honor and a privilege. I learned the more difficult lessons
that leadership bears responsibility and hardship. As a Scout, I was given
guidance in responsible decision making, something that is missing from
so much of our society today.
Two honors I received in
scouting are still the most important honors or achievements in my life.
In june, 1971 I received my Eagle Scout award. I have included that award
on every job application, college application, resume, and biographical
summary I have ever prepared, including my appication to Governor Martin
in 1991, asking that I be appointed to the district court bench. I have
included it becuase it is the most important achievement of my lifetime.
I have included it because employers, and admissions officers, and others
know that there is something special about an Eagle Scout. They know that
he is a leader, an achiever, and they know someting about the rules he
lives by. They know what all Eagles learn, that becoming an Eagle Scout
carries with it a resonsibility to be a leader, to set an example, and
to use your talents to be of service to Scouting and your community.
Service is the foundation
of the other honor in Scouting that is so important to me, the Order of
the Arrow. Service to others, cheerful service, is the responsibility
the honor carries, a responsibility that does not end at age 18. My experiences
as a member of the dance and ceremony teams, with all of the majesty and
splendor of those evenings are etched in my memory forever. But the lessons
of serving my fellow man, cheerfully, are burned in my very soul.
It is significant to me
that I stand before you tonight wearing the same uniform as you, with
my Assistant Scoutmaster's patch on my sleeve. I am one of you. And I
am one of you and have met a substantial measure of success in my life
because of two men, my Scoutmasters. I believe that there is a hidden
promise in Scouting, that goes beyond anything in the boy Scout handbook.
The hidden promise, and hence my words of encouragement and challenge,
is that each boy has the opportunity to experience and learn what I have
experienced and learned, and that as an adult, can recognize the importance
of those experiences and lessons, as I have, and decide, as I have, to
be a Scoutmaster, to pass the torch to another generation of boys, the
Scoutmasters of tomorrow.
The words of Ben Love in
the foreward to the Scoutmasters Handbook come close to being perfect.
He wrote: "in the years ahead, there's no telling how many men will look
back on their happy, productive days as Boy Scouts and recall their Scoutmaster
with a large measure of warmth and gratitude. This will be your ultimate
reward in Scouting." If I can change his words just a little: there's
no telling how many men will look back on their happy productive days
as Boy Scouts and recall their Scoutmaster with a large measure of warmth
and gratitude, and decide to be a Scoutmaster. This will be your ultimate
reward in Scouting. There can be no greater contribution any of us can
make in our lives than to make the kind of difference in the life of our
boys that Charlie Rigsbee and Deane Taylor made in my life.
That is my challenge to
you tonight. I offer my experiences as a Scout as encouragement to you
that your efforts are worthwhile. I offer my heartfelt thanks to you for
what you are doing as Scoutmasters (and as understanding spouses and family
members of Scoutmasters). And I offer my thanks, to Charlie Rigsbee and
Deane Taylor. I am finally doing what they trained me to do. I hope they