Scout Spirit, BOR's, Eagle and Otherwise
Timothy J O'Leary (tjo@CPTCHR.AFIP.MIL)
Wed, 13 Dec 1995 06:50:05 -0800
The messages on these topics show, I think properly, that there is no
single "right" approach for judging "scout spirit," using the BOR
process, and using rank advancement as a tool.
To me, scout spirit is everything. I think that the newest way in which
the requirements are written is about right. Something like "Show Scout
Spirit by demonstrating that you have lived the Oath and Law in your
To me, this means that the requirement is not about attending troop
meetings and campouts, and that to deny either Eagle or Tenderfoot
advancement on the basis of attendance misses the point. On the other
hand, a scout who is beating up another scout for Monday night recreation
is definitely not demonstrating Scout spirit. The BOR can decide not to
advance a Scout based on its own observations, I suppose, but it may be
a terrible mistake (see final paragraph); more importantly, the BOR
gives the troop committee the opportunity and responsibility to contribute
its collective experience to thoughts about how the troop program can
contribute to the scout's development.
As committee chair, I go on every third or fourth campout with the troop;
camping is a great way to see scout spirit in action, but so
is after school, with friends, and at home. Some of the things I think
of when I think about "Scout spirit:"
A Scout is
Trustworthy - if he's the waterman, does he keep it filled? If he's
fireman, does he wonder away? If he was expected to provide a skit, is
Loyal - does he build the other boys up, or tear them down? Does he
press the "hot buttons" of the boy with a temper, or keep others from
Helpful - during after meal cleanup does he help out, or leave all the
work for the others while he whittles a stick?
Friendly - is he pleasant? But don't penalize the "shy kid."
Courteous - does he treat everyone with dignity?
Kind - when someone's feeling are hurt, how does he react?
Obedient - when his parents come to pick him up at the end of the
campout, does he get his act together, or does he stall?
Cheerful - does he sulk when it is his turn to hose down the summer camp
Thrifty - does he use the propane stove to warm himself on a cold
morning, or does he reserve it for cooking?
Brave - does he have the courage of character to do the right thing, even
when the folks around him are urging him in the wrong direction. This
one is usually best assessed outside of scout activities!
Clean - clean hands, clean mouth?
Reverent - does he practice what he preaches. Is his "Great Spriit"
moving his life?
The Tenderfoot Scout is showing Scout spirit when he pitches in some of
the time. The Eagle candidate is showing Scout spirit when he realizes
that he is setting an example which will help the other Scouts to be
better people. Everyone - older scouts, SM, ASM, parents, teachers,
committee members, needs to help build Scout spirit. Scouting adults
need to remember that "Scout Spirit" is what the whole program is really
about, and that cooking, pitching tents, building fires, map and compass,
uniforms, being a patrol leader, etc. are ONLY TOOLS TO DEVELOP SCOUT
Back to the BOR. When we conduct a BOR we need to be looking at the
Scout, and not worrying too much about whether he can tie a sheet bend,
but rather asking "Is our program helping this Scout learn to live the
Oath and Law in his everyday life?" We should ask the scout to "wait a
while" for rank advancement if this will help to meet this objective, but
we need to be careful. If the BOR in your troop has not used this as a
tool relatively frequently, he may be branded as "FAILURE," and leave the
troop. Then we are the "FAILURES," because we lose the only tools we
Tim O'Leary, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC Troop 772, CM Pack 1072, Silver Spring, MD
I'm still trying to live up to the Eagle ideal.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City