scouts-l Mail Archive for March of 2000: Re: Equal Opportunity
Ed Thompson (thompson@VAX2.WINONA.MSUS.EDU
Wed Mar 15 2000 - 09:53:04 CST
At 11:08 PM 3/13/00 -0600, Tom Kennedy wrote:
>It is evident to me this group runs the whole gamut of interpretation of
>National Policy. Do our scouts need to do exactly what the book says or can
>we make changes that we feel are necessary? ...
>National sets the policy and you either abide by it or you don't...
While Tom is technically correct, I hope he also realizes that rigid
adherance to arbitrary rules is a recipe for disaster. Sadly, many troops
have ridden it into oblivion as the boys look elsewhere for what they need.
Our troop certainly did: dropped from thirty or so scouts (as nearly as I
can tell) to four because of a scoutmaster who rigidly enforced "the rules".
Six years after he was replaced we are up to about twelve active boys, but
Scouting MUST be a flexible program or it will die, and we can't help boys
we can't reach. The IMPORTANT rules, the ones we must help the boys learn,
are quite simple and familiar to all of us: that they be trustworthy, loyal,
helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave,
clean (all right, even I have trouble with that one sometimes) and reverent,
that they do their duty to God and their country, and that they keep
themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
Everything else is just there to support these principles. If some "rule"
can't do this for even one young man, it needs to be modified, and I have
yet to see ANY rule that worked for everybody all the time. The same thing
is true in everyday life: a person who rigidly follows all of the "rules"
set down for him or her makes a pretty poor citizen, boss, employee, parent
As we have all read many times on this list-serve, BSA National is often
unable to make changes nearly fast enough to meet the needs of the boys in
the troops and has, unfortunately, shown a reluctance to jetison rules which
have quit working. Effective, positive change in scouting has always come
from the bottom (individual packs and troops) up to National, not from the
top down. Scouting does not take place in National's offices: it takes
place in church basements, VFW halls, Elks lodges, schools, etc. around the
country every day of the year. The job of the National office is to support
us in however we can best deliver the promise.