Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Sat, 28 Jun 1997 22:33:40 -0400
If ever BSA issues an "Internet Commissioner" position patch you should
have the first one, and one with gold and silver mylar threads to boot.
You have taken the concept of unit service and given it a whole new
meaning by creating a forum where unit leaders from around the globe can
share ideas, compare notes, help each other, and just plain have fun.
The only thing missing is the coffee pot. ;-)
A few years back I had an old beater of a 286 computer and one of those
(then brand new) 2400 baud modems. It seemed all too complicated and I
was scared to use the danged thing for almost a year. Finally I heard
about there was a Scouting area on a local bulletin board where you could
get free e-mail. Took me about a week to get that one figured out, but I
signed on and started looking at files. Well one of them explained how
there were hundreds of discussion lists on the Internet. So I looked and
found one called Scouts-L. I didn't have a clue what it was, but someone
else had done a nice write up about how friendly the folks were on this
list and how you could get questions answered easily. After
procrastinating another couple weeks, I made the fateful decision to send
an e-mail. Believe it or not it was my very first e-mail!!! Before I
had just logged on to the BBS and read files. Immediately I got Jon's
famous welcome letter and felt right at home - knew I was in the right
neighborhood - good people no doubt.
Well I did what many of us do, I lurked and watched. I read and read,
and read some more. Boy some of this stuff looked really great. The
next thing I knew I was sharing cooking recipes here at home with my
son's Troop. They were really impressed with some of the Australian
cooking techniques that could be done without pots and pans like the
biscuit on a stick idea. Mmmm good it was - thanks Jon, the boys would
never have had a chance to try this, if wasn't for you. One of these
boys got really interested in cooking. He was a real piece of work, one
of those whose behavior problems were legion. Now a few years later he's
an Assistant Manager at a local McDonalds.
A lot of local Scouters were really impressed with what I was sharing
from the Scouts-L list. So the next thing I knew, bits and pieces of our
discussions got worked into our District's newsletter and in training.
Probably several hundred Scouters have been exposed to me as a trainer
with much of my knowledge base coming from Scouts-L. So Jon, you've been
a part of training in far distant reaches helping to shape our leaders.
With a little encouragement and prompting, I started to write a few posts
to Scouts-L a few years back. I can remember worring about how I wrote
and whether it would help and whether folks would like what I wrote. The
responses were instantly gratifying - so many wonderful people writing
and sharing. Friendships began to emerge out of this virtual environment
for me, people that I would never have had the chance to meet or talk to
except for the existence of Scouts-L.
So I wrote a little more and then a little more beyond that. Bill Nelson
asked me to write some stuff for him to use on the U.S.Scouting Service
Website and I did. Then Gary Hendra volunteered to help me publish a
Commissioer's Internet Resources Workshop on his website
(www.macscouter.com). These things wouldn't have happened except for
Those relationships grew and so did the opportunities to learn more about
the World Wide Web. And most of that learning took place because of
Scouters who helped from the Scouts-L list.
During this "apprenticeship" my computer died. Two local Scouters (also
from Scouts-L) came over and spent nearly 11 hours building a new
computer for me out of the old parts and with some new things they helped
me to buy. Thanks Mike and John.
I continued to learn about the world of computers and the Internet
because of Scouts-L - facinated because of how this medium could help
Scouters share information and improve the program for the boys.
In the process I ended up as the Administrator for the PC Area of the
U.S.Scouting Service Project's FTP Site and began to learn how to write
web pages from some truly great folks - thanks Bill, Chris, and Gary.
Again, all were associated with the Scouts-L list.
About a year and a half ago my employer was looking for someone with
experience to build a website. So I volunteered that I had been working
with some really sharp Scouters that knew a lot about this stuff and
would try to help. About nine months ago my boss asked me to switch from
being an attorney to the organization's Chief Information
Officer/Webmaster. I agreed and as a result of Scouts-L made a complete
career shift, one that I would have laughed at only a few years ago. So,
Jon I owe you more than a little thanks - what I learned from the list
you manage has taught me enough to put bread on the table.
In fact what I've learned from the list is enough to write several large
books! From the beginning I kept copies of the postings that had
information I thought might help me or other Scouters in my area. The
last time I checked, my collection of postings was several thousand pages
long! And I know that Mike Walton's collection dwarfs mine, so his must
be absolutely huge.
This knowledge base collected by volunteers for volunteers is absolutely
mind-boggling in size and scope. I would need several pages just to list
the times when the information from Scouts-L has been shared, has helped
a Scout prepare for an Eagle Board of Review, has helped a new
Scoutermaster get started, has helped an old Scoutermaster get a new
handle on a tough situation, etc. And even more wonderful, the sharing
has been international in scope.
Because of Scouts-L I've been lucky to share discussions and ideas with
Scouters in Argentina, Brazil, England, Australia, Austria, Germany,
Spain, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, South
Africa, Singapore, Ireland, Italy, and more.
Baden-Powell had a dream that Scouting would cut through secular
divisions and make the world more peaceful through a larger brotherhood
of Scouting. When he died, he left behind a set of letters to Scouters,
Guiders, and the Movement in which he expressed his satisfaction then at
the great strides the Movement had made in realizing this. If B-P were
alive today, I have no doubt that he would be very excited at what
Scouts-L has done to further his vision with brother and sister
organizations and Scouters around the world. If WOSM in Geneva had an
award for a volunteer furthering this vision through the Internet, you'd
be my first candidate for the award.
Jon, we all owe you much. Indeed Scouting and Guiding around the globe
has been touched forever by the work you have done in your spare time,
because when the call came, you were there to answer and never flagged in
your duties, self-imposed as they were.
We are experiencing a global revolution with the explosion of the
Information Age that will affect society as much or more than the
industrial revolution that transformed the world at the turn of the last
Your work has helped to assure that at least a part of that revolution
will be headed in a very positive direction with a focus on helping young
people around the world to grow up with values and character. And your
impact can be seen in the many spin-off lists and web pages that have
resulted. And no doubt will continue to be felt as these all generate
In the same way that good turn rendered by an unknown English Scout to
William Boyce spawned the Scouting Movement in the United States with
unforeseeable and wonderful consequences for nearly a century, your good
turn has and will continue to produce consequences that will forever
shape and change the world we live in. Truly there can be no greater
reward in life than knowing that you have and will continue to help young
people to have opportunities in abundance for growth into adulthood where
they will succeed well because they have developed good character, become
good participating citizens, and have learned how to become and stay fit.
THANK YOU JON!
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
E-mail: email@example.com Visit: ftp1.scouter.com/usscouts
U. S. Scouting Service Project FTP Site Administrator (PC Area)
Helping to deliver the promise of Scouting from Alexandria, Virginia
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City