Old Reqs v. New Ones (long post)
Ernest R. Spradling, P.E. (freemason@AOL.COM)
Sun, 13 Feb 1994 14:02:47 EST
Whew! I never dreamed that there would be such an outpouring of negative
response to a conceptual reinstatement of the signalling & dinosaur riding ;)
requirements for the ranks.
Everyone's postings on the requirements and concepts subject,and its tangent
thread, gave me cause to think: "just what in the devil did I learn from
being in Scouting?" Were the lessons relevant to life in the real world, or
was I just beating time through life?
The following is a personal assessment of the trail to First Class Scout (and
what else could it be but personal). I offer it, and you are all welcome to
agree or disagree as you see fit (as if my friends would do otherwise ;D).
I also grew up with the "Victory at Sea" genre, and the Boy Scouts in the
late Sixties gave me a capsule of basic items which were needed to be
self-sufficient in the rural world in which I grew up - such things as
camping, hiking, trees, plants, basic astronomy, trailing, tracking &
stalking, etc. I only knew them for what they were then (requirements for a
badge), but looking back I am amazed at what was actually retained, altough I
could see no relevance at the time. If nothing else, they made a lasting
impression on a person who, if not for actively participating in the Scouting
movement, would not have considered his adolescent years as a
The wild plants and animals showed me that there was a beauty in the diverity
of nature, and of the fragility of the same, and that we needed to appreciate
what resources we had and how we used those same resources, whether we were
using it for firewood, food or shelter, or just enjoyed the scenery. If it
must needs be done, I could probably live off the land, or survive adverse
situations. That knowledge gave this kid the confidence to face the world
and its cruel realities.
The study of the stars gave not only an opportunity to learn a little cursory
navigation, but it also gave a chance to learn, in capsule form, some of the
legends and mythologies of civilizations past: not only was the practical
lesson of being able to find my way around enhanced, but I got a history
lesson in the bargain.
The signalling requirement was, as Nathan Brindle so eloquently pointed out,
was a lesson in learning alien concepts, in this case, a language. While I
have never learned Hebrew of Kanji, I did go on to other languages, such as
French, music, computer science, and mathematics (yes, that too, is a
The two-match fire showed me that it was better to take my time and do things
right, without wasting valuable resources. The swimming requirement gave me
an appreciation of water, as well as another lesson in conquering my fears of
First aid is without a doubt a most essential entity unto itself: this gives
the Scout the ability to assess a situation and give the proper, appropriate
course of action to resolve that situation.
Camping and hiking were good for this "bookworm" who had no real interest in
sports, by getting me into some sort of physically strenuous activity and
thereby increasing my strength and stamina. Cooking was another lesson in
planning and self-reliance, as well as ingenuity in using whatever resources
I had on hand.
Knots and lashings probably had the most profound effect on my life: through
the lessons learned here, the "primitive engineerig" gave me the impetus to
go on to become a civil engineer
The troop showed me how to get along with others, in a better atmosphere than
the classrom. I was also given the chance to lead, and make the mistakes of
leadership, without creating economic or life safety havoc. It also taught
me responsibility to my community, wherever I happen to live.
Everything I needed to know about life was NOT learned in kindergarten, it
was in the Scout Troop!
So, I say to my comrades out there, and I say this in the most loving manner,
horsepuckey! The lessons are relevant, and the resources used to teach those
lessons, IMHBCO, are just as relevant today as they were back then. I am not
talking about signalling, I am talking about some of the other things which
were excised from the requirements on the trail to First Class. They teach
things which are rarely taught in the classroom today: self-reliance,
self-confidence, comraderie, the use of that uncommon thing called "common
sense", a little philosophy, and last but not least, have fun with life.
I still agree with an early assessment of the trail to First Class: it
teaches the boy self-relinace and self-confidence in an atmosphere of FUN!
Earning Eagle was nice, but the trail to First Class is what makes a Scout a
Scout, and every Eagle must first be a First Class Scout.
It isn't surprising that BP's techniques were taken from more progressive
instructors, such as Maria Montessori: he was distressed that the military
used up men for cannon fodder because they didn't know how to take care of
themselves, and felt that the sooner the boy learned self-reliance, and ways
to maintain that self-reliance, the more likely the man would be able to
survive, and thereby increase the chances of assisting his colleagues to
survive in adverse situation. New ways of learning HAD to be tried, in order
to reduce attrition!
<Off my soapbox now>
I know I am preaching to the choir again, but I really think these things
need to be rehashed from time to time. Thank you all for your patience and
YiS, WWW, with lots of irons in the fire,
Randy Spradling, P.E.
Assistant District Commissioner Treasure Coast District, Gulfstream Council
(FL) Aal-Pa-Tah #237 Eagle Scout (1971)Vigil Honor (1974)(Thal-Coo-Zyo #457)
(Sukeu Woapalanne-Black Eagle)
Life Member Alpha Phi Omega Mu Tau Chapter (#589-139879/Life#5915) (WV
Gonna be a critter soon (SR-5).
Master Mason: Huntington (WV) Lodge #53 AF&AM
Royal Arch: Joppa (FL) Chapter #28 RAM (King)
Select Master: Tyrian (FL) Council #36 R&SM (Principal Cond. of Work)
Knights Templar: St. Lucie (FL) #17 KT (Standard Bearer)
York Rite College: John B. Phelps (FL) #31 YRC
Huntington (WV) Consistory AASR
Huntington (WV) Chapter #8 OES
Beni Kedem Temple AAONMS
(To know oneself is the ultimate form of aggression)
(Calvin: Do you think that children are born sinful?
Hobbes: No, but they are quick studies.)
I >>>----I>----<> I
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City