(no name) ((no email))
Fri, 29 Nov 1991 14:12:00 EDT
I hope that you will forgive me for a lenghtly reply. I replied originally
to this to Guido, but asked him to please forward a copy to the list. He
was really swamped with replies, so here is the copy that he sent back to
me for my personal use (like in a speech to Iowa City in Janurary!!) and
some comments I just wanted to share with you afterwards ...........
Sender: "Guido M. Witmond" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
""" (SETTUMMANQUE\" or \"BLACKEAGLE\"...it's still me!!!)
Reply-to: "Guido M. Witmond" <email@example.com>
Organisation: Sector Informatica, Haagse Hogeschool, The Hague, The Netherlands
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.3 PL11]
Mike, I thank you for your comments and return it for your printer. (please
read my postings about this on the list).
........................original with '> ' stripped of.......................
Prayer is an important part of our American society. It is one of the reasons
why we all came to live in America and why we broke our ties with Britain.
The problem as you have read from the entries on the list, is how to interprete
the idea of prayer ("a scout is reverant..") with the many faiths represented in
Scouting units. One way to solve that, as you spoke, is to have a "momment of
silence" during the meetings. I have a different way, one in which works for
all of the units that I have worked with and based on my experience with
Roman Catholic and Mormon (the traditional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
During the first meeting of the year, we talk as Scouts about religious beliefs.
I express to the Scouts my beliefs in God, and how I use that faith in my daily
life. Then, I go around the room and each scout can say if he goes to a church,
what he believes in and why he became a Scout. Then, I explain that the United
States is made up of many people with many cultures. That some of us were forced
to come to this country to become slaves (and those included many white and
brown indentured servants) for others...while others suffered purtid food and
water to come to this country to be able to pray and beleive in whatever they
felt was "the truth".
Scouting does not teach one religion, and that is why we have a religious awards
program. I expect every scout to earn his religion's emblem (and there is one
for those whom have a faith but not a "formalized religion") by the time that
they become a Life Scout. I explain that the Life Badge is shaped like a heart
because the ideas of Scouting should be firmly in your heart by then...and one
point of the Scout Law is that of reverence to a faith and tolerance of those
others with faiths different than yours.
Then I explain that during the meetings and outdoors activities, that Scouts
will be asked to share a blessing or prayer before we eat. (for many Scouts,
Guido, this is the first time that they have even stated a blessing and it
can be trumatic....so I help by offering "generic" blessings or grace statments
as simple as "thank you for the food we eat and thank you for the friends we
meet. Amen" (I made that up when I was going through Junior Leader Training
in 1974, and have used it personally since). This provides every Scout the
chace to be "the leader" of something and reminds them that scouting and
their participation in it is special. )
Finally, I explain that Scouting is a program that expects you to do your
best. Not to be perfect..because none of us are perfect. Therefore, I
look forward in seeing each Scout get better in all aspects of life.
The end result from this is that the Troop gets stronger and the members get
closer....and race, religion and backgrounds go out the window because they
are Scouts. I have personally witnessed a Scout getting beat up by a pair
of non-Scouts and another one of his Troop members came by and beat the
tar outta of the two non-scouts because he was picking on his fellow Boy Scout.
I stopped the fight long enough to find out that the reason why they were
fighting: the Scout was called a "nigger" by one of the non-scouts and was
getting beat up rather brutally by the older Scout, with this white guy saying
with every blow "you don't call people that! You don't call people that!"
So prayer is important...a little thing like grace brings people closer and
tears down barriers.
(if you would be so kind to please add this to our overall discussion on the
list and to send me back a copy since I did not turn on my printer here (I
have no printer here in the lobby of this hall to turn on!)..thanks!)
And to all of the Scouters on the list from the States, please have a great
Thanksgiving Day. I have a lot to be thankful for...and we all have a lot to
be thankful for this year.
..........................end of original............................
Good luck, Guido.
Guido M. Witmond
Student Computer and Information Science The Hague The Netherlands
//////////////////////////end of my reply to his message////////////////////
The above would not be approviate in all cases and I do understand that
many of you see fault in my "expounding my faith" to impressionable boys.
However, you have to look at the larger picture to understand the significance
of this approach.
First off, many Scouts have "no clue" as to the religious nature of many of
the adults that they come in contact with. Many school systems forbid their
teachers and administrators from even talking about religion in the presence
of a student. Second, many parents come from "disallusioned" faiths, where
they have participated in a church until some tramatic event occured with
the church or the community..and then they left. It is not that they *don't*
have a faith...its just that Johnnie may have been too little to see it
in action. Third, as I explained to some Scouts in Ohio a while back, Scouting
is unique in that the Scouters and the Scouts sometime get as close as parent
and child....which is great considering what lots of psychologists and mental-
health professionals are stating about parental trust nowdays. Finally, seeing
a "role model" confess that (1) he/she is NOT perfect, that (2) they kneel or
face Mecca or touch Rosaries or open a Bible is a show of realism, not a
"pushing of faith"; and (3) he/she wants you to behave in a pattern of service
and respect for other's views from the start.....tells the Scouts that this
program is more than showing up at a gym and learning knots and how to cook
outdoors..that rather, his or her personality is going to be intertwined with
the personalities of seven or nineteen or thirty-four other boys and nine or
twenty men and women...all with their own concept of "god" and "religion".
Scouting is right in expressing that each person needs to believe in SOMETHING
or SOMEONE...and not expressing what that "SOMETHING OR SOMEONE" should be.
You can believe in the Flag, in the Nation, in the trees or the dirt. Don
Izard suggested that since that "S" word (satanism for those whom just joined
the list...I feel really unconforable about even talking about it...but I
do know that there are plenty out there that believe in this...) is a religion
that those members should also be entitled to be Scouts...and I don't know
if I would go THAT far..but some civil libertians would probably say that
that's correct too....(I wouldn't..but that's Mike Walton speaking!)
You need to have faith in something because it forms a part of your judgement
of what is right and what is wrong and what should happen and what should not
...even in Scouting. You need to have faith in yourself and to be able to
draw upon it when things get rough and you are on the final leg of the trek
up the Tooth of Time or on the Rough River and trying to shoot the rapids or
when things are going wrong at every step and you want to give up. That faith
comes from your religious background (or lack of...) and helps to build you
into a more rounded person.
That is why I express my faith to my Scouts and ask them to develop a faith
by the time they become Life Scouts. This requires them to ask their parents
(which brings up some really good discussions, most of the time ending with
Mom or Dad or stepparent wanting to serve as a leader to "see what I am
teaching their child!", to which I sheepishly give them the application and
take their money....), to ask their friends, to ask themselves.
Final short comment and I have to return to my research paper:
When I was at Camp Freedom, the first year that I was a Scoutmaster in Europe,
I sat down beside one of my lifeless Scouts. John came from a fractured family.
His mom, a German national, remarried a American Staff Sergeant that believed
that Scouting was for "panty wastes". He beat his son regularily because he
went to "that Panty club". I, being a "new" Second Lieutenent, did not want
to "rock the boat" and tell his Platoon Leader, a fellow Lieutenant in the
same military unit that I was in..but I talked with John's stepdad and he
basically told me to "mind my own business". (John was supposed to be at his
oma's (grandmother's) house during the summer camp period).
John did not know how to react to this new freedom. I nor the Assistant SM
ever told him that "he HAS to do..." anything. We let the youth leaders handle
that. He was sitting at one of the campsite's benches. He sat there, while I
told him about my camping experiences at Camp Freedom, many moons ago as a
Scout. He then through the curveball.
"Why is god punishing me??", he asked me. "Everyone else's parents told them
goodbye, have a good time...your wife even cried. My parents don't care about
me. Why did god give me such a hard life???"
I had no answer that I could look up. All I could tell him is that my life
is rough as well....that everything was not handled to me on a silver platter
and that my parents still to this day think that Scouting is a waste of my
time and money. And here I am. I then told him something that since then
I have seen in my secretary's office..something that she refers to when things
get overwhelming and difficult and hard to deal with. I read it in the dentist's
office the week before...and I wrote it down (like a good speech-maker does)
on a small piece of paper and placed in my wallet.
John's eyes lit up as if I stung him with a stickpin. He hugged me and went
off to find his fellow Scouts. I sat there, mistied-eyed, thinking
"mom, see....that's why".
What did I say??? Since he already knew of my personal faith, I didn't have
to say much else....I just pulled out my wallet, opened the piece of paper
"lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that
you and I together can't handle".
If that's expressing a faith to a Scout, then I am sorry. All I know is that
one, it worked, two, it made both of us feel better and three, it forced me
to come to grips with a subject I have been denying (his beatings) for three
When we got back, I placed formal charges against him and through my military
boss, got a protective custody warrant for both John and his sister as well
as his mother.
John, by the way, is Catholic. His mother has not been able to go to church
with him or his younger sister until after his stepfather was picked up. I
went to Mass with them the weekend afterwards. I had no way of knowing that
until after this was all over with.
Settummanque!@HEY...for the record, I am a general Protestant.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City