You may be familiar with Scouts in your everyday life. You saw them in schools and now in grown up world. If asked what is scouting, the answer you will receive is camping, campfire, hiking, helping people and many more. But what actually is scouting?
Scouting basically is an activity program full of fun and challenges for the kids and youth between 8 to 40 years of age.
Scouts is an international youth organization to train the youth to be a useful citizen. It’s training is based on the Scout Law and Promise, also with the basic principles laid by Lord Baden Powell.
The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the “Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.
The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.
Ideals. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.
Patrols. The patrol method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where members can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through elected representatives.
Outdoor Programs. Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. In the outdoors the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for the beauty of the world around us. The outdoors is the laboratory in which Boy Scouts learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.
Advancement. Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
Associations With Adults. Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of the troop. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
Personal Growth. As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is as successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting’s aims.
Leadership Development. The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
Uniform. The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.
What is Scouting? Scouting is what makes a boy a Scout.
What is a Scout? A Scout is a boy who is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Put another way, a Scout is a boy who understands what honor means, and whose own honor depends on him doing his best to do his duty to God and his country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. A Scout is a boy who obeys the Scout Law, and who keeps the Scout Oath.
These ideals are not mere platitudes to be uttered in the middle of a Scouting activity. They are core values, and the entire reason the Scouting program exists is to help inculcate these values into the character of the boys you raise, the young men your daughters will marry, the leaders on whom you will one day depend.
Scouting uses eight methods to achieve its aims of character development, citizenship training, and promotion of physical and mental fitness.
First, there are the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law. The essence of Scout spirit is living in a way that embraces these ideals. Being prepared, and doing a good turn daily, are manifestations of Scout spirit that flow from commitment to these ideals. Every single part of Scouting is designed to promote these character building values.
Second, there is the patrol method. Scout troops are made up of patrols of boys of similar age and experience levels. Patrols have a name, a flag, and a yell. They, and the troop, are safe havens within which a boy can find friendship, support, and the sense of satisfaction that comes from helping one’s comrades. The patrol provides the best opportunities not just for burning group meals on a campout, but for learning responsibility, developing leadership skills, and having fun.
Third, the outdoor program. Scouting is three quarters “outing.” Outdoor activities are fun, and keep Scouts coming back for more. Scout patrols camp, hike, swim, paddle, and climb year round. Outdoor programs provide real tests of the skills Scouts have learned during patrol and troop meetings. Outings involve adventure that builds personal confidence and strengthens leadership ability. The respect and restraint required by practicing the leave no trace ethic in the outdoors carries over into behavior back in civilization. From a day hike to a week long camp, the outdoors is where Scouting works best.
Fourth, advancement. Along the trail to Eagle, a boy who achieves excellence receives recognition for his accomplishments. Rank advancement to the level of First Class Scout provides the foundation for successful Scouting. A boy becomes a Scout at age eleven. By his twelfth birthday he should have earned his Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks. Doing so requires learning basic outdoors skills, participating in citizenship activities, and showing Scout spirit. With that foundation, when a boy moves on to a more experienced patrol he can best participate in the full range of Scouting activities. A boy who achieves First Class rank within his first year as a Scout is more likely to eventually rise through the ranks of Star Scout and Life Scout, and to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. These last three ranks are reached by doing service, providing leadership in the troop, and earning merit badges in various subjects. Recognition of achievement is only meaningful if the achievement is genuine, if it reflects self-discipline, hard work, and mastery. Adult Scout leaders who sign off on advancement only when it is truly earned help boys build habits that will benefit their families, churches, and communities throughout the Scout’s life.
Fifth is association with adults. Boys need good adult role models. The troop committee that the chartering organization creates has the responsibility not just to actively support Scoutmasters, but to make sure the Scouts are getting adult leaders who will set the best examples possible. Ezra Taft Benson emphasized the need to “mobilize men, hundreds of them who love boys; who believe in them; who not only have the technical skills, but who will inspire them, because boys need inspiration even more than they need information!” Boys learn to be men by watching men.
Sixth, Scouting focuses on personal growth. Adolescence is a time of considerable physical and emotional development, in which a boy learns to find his place in his community. Scouting emphasizes personal growth through meeting religious obligations. This helps keep a boy grounded in what is important. Good turns done for the community further bolster a boy’s development. Personal development through successful participation in high adventure activities, or service through the Order of the Arrow honor society, or any of a number of other options for experienced Scouts will further help a boy grow into honorable manhood.
The seventh method used by Scouting is leadership development. The activities of the troop and the patrols must be boy-planned and boy-led. The troop is led by a boy chosen to serve as senior patrol leader. The senior patrol leader, in turn, helps boys chosen to serve as patrol leaders. Adult leaders—the Scoutmaster and at least one assistant Scoutmaster to provide two deep adult leadership—are there to train the senior patrol leader, to help the patrol leaders’ council plan and accomplish its goals, and to make sure that safe Scouting and safe haven principles are practiced. Through first training junior leaders, and then having them plan the programs of the troop at patrol leaders’ council, and lead their patrols in the field, Scouting allows boys to gain confidence and learn that they can create something good that benefits others. It also teaches boys to work with leaders as cooperative followers, to achieve positive goals.
Eighth, the Scout uniform is an important part of Scouting. Wearing the uniform creates a sense of belonging. It indicates to others that the wearer can be trusted to do his best for those around him. And it shows that a boy is actively committed to Scouting, and is therefore likely to reap the benefits that come from that commitment. At times the Scout uniform shirt may be replaced with an activity shirt bearing the Scout symbol. Boys should make a point of wearing the Scout uniform to Scout meetings and activities.
These eight methods help a boy discover one of the most important things he can learn in life: the meaning of the words “On my honor.” Keeping one’s honor bright by doing one’s best to do one’s duty is the heart of Scouting. General Lee called “duty” the “sublimest word in the English language.” To recognize one’s duty and to do it despite the obstacles, to live by the highest standards regardless of whether anyone is watching, to lead by example, to—in short—honor one’s God, one’s country, and one’s family, is the product of character.
What is Scouting? It is a means for building such character.