Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Scoutmasters
James H. Moss
Thu, 18 Feb 1999 22:48:18 -0700
Every once in a while I spend a lot of time thinking about some of the ideas
that pop up on Scouts-L. The discussion about unit leaders who have had a
long career as SM in Scouting struck me many different ways. I wanted to
congratulate leaders who had given so much time to youth. I felt sorry for
those that did not have the opportunity to experience being a SM. I could
clearly see each side of the discussion.
The discussion also rang another bell. In 37 years of scouting, including
several years as a paid professional, I have seen many types of units.
Good, bad, fun, marginal, etc. I cannot think of a case where the unit was
not a replica of the leader. Good units had good leaders. If the leader
wore a uniform, the Scouts did. If the leader liked camping the Scouts
camped and so forth. However, the best units, those that helped young men
became the best men they could ever be came from units with leaders who not
only liked youth and had vision, but also more importantly, obviously
Unit's with SM with weak skills still turned out youth with great skills
because those SM's recognized their own weaknesses, and whether or not they
overcame them personally, they did not allow their weaknesses to
effect/affect/infect their boys. I am not sure whether I ever say my SM go
swimming. I cannot picture him swimming and I have spent weeks thinking
about it. However, every Scout could swim in my troop. Every Scout spent
two hours a day at the lake or pool during summer camp taking swimming
lessons, courses, or merit badges. Maybe he could, maybe he could not, but
he was not going to allow his issues, problems, weakness or whatever you
call them to stand in the way of developing the best youth he could. He
never looked at his problems as such, nor did he ignore them or create
excuses for them.
Creating an excuse for a weakness in front of a youth creates an excuse for
the youth. "Swimming is not important," "I never needed to know how to
swim," "fear is not important to overcome," may satisfy your inner needs.
However, it also gives a young man the excuse he needs to skip, ignore or
hide his own weaknesses. In some cases, it may allow the youth to create a
weakness, out of laziness, that he did not have before.
No matter what skills a youth learns from Scouting, overcoming his
weaknesses, overcoming a problem, learning to reach inside and grow when he
doesn't want too is the greatest gift a youth can receive.
I think about another SM I knew well, from New Concord, OH. The camp staff
feared his evaluations. He was tough. However, I never knew anyone in his
unit, who had ever heard of that side of him. As an adult, I learned his
evaluations where the best I could receive; they taught me what was wrong
with camp. I saw him the way his Scouts saw him, as the great leader he
was. His weakness in dealing with the adults of camp staff, was never seen,
nor excused by his Scouts.
My father, when I was growing up, had just left Scouting as a paid
professional. He had attend all of the jamborees of that time that he was
eligible to attend and achieved every award in Scouting. He served on the
committee of my troop. He never sought nor asked to be the SM, and did
everything he could to assist my SM. My father might have had some weakness
in dealing with youth, or maybe he recognized how great of a SM I already
had. I realize now, that I still don't know, what if any of a weakness kept
him from being SM, but he did not allow that to stop me from being and
growing into the best Scout I could be, under a different man.
I would never want any person reading this to look at this a criticism or
condemnation. Any person, willing to donate time to youth deserves all the
praise, adoration and support we can ever provide. Any man willing to put
up with 12, 24 or more age 11 through 14 rowdy, sugar powered boys, deserves
the highest praise we can bestow. Any man willing to leave his family for
several hours each week to assist the youth in his neighborhood deserves our
thanks. I would never ever consider removing a SM because of what I
perceive as a weakness. Nor is this a condemnation of any idea expressed on
this forum. This is a rambling, late at night, coming back into the office
to express it before it leaves me, about what the greatest men I have met
wearing the BSA uniform did to direct, guide, lead and mold me.
Great men build great men. Be the greatest man you can be and you will
build the greatest men you can imagine.
Yours in Scouting
12340 W. Alameda Pkwy., Lakewood, CO 80228-2841
Eagle Class of 69, Vigil, Denver Area Council