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Imagine, for a moment, there is nothing called “Scouting”, no program, no troops, no councils, no districts, no uniforms, no badges.
Someone comes up with an idea for helping young people develop character by getting outdoors and going camping.
The idea is built on a set of shared ideals that encourages everyone to treat each other decently and helps them work together.
They share this idea with young people who get pretty excited about it. They get their buddies together, and decide they really like the whole idea, and organize a camping trip.
To go camping comfortably there are any number of skills to develop, and proficiency in these skills is recognized.
There’s a structured set of responsibilities aimed at coordinating and completing the chores of planning and carrying out a camping trip.
There aren’t any forms, no paperwork aside from keeping track of a few simple things. The young people come up against many challenges but they resolve them by applying the ideals. Things aren’t always organized, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but they love what they are doing – because they are doing what Scouts do.
If we focus on doing what Scouts do we’ll always be doing the right thing!
—A campfire is worth a thousand words.—
If we get ourselves caught in the thicket of polices, procedures, and logistics we are coming at the whole thing from the wrong direction, all of these things make sense when we do what Scouts do.
When Scouts do things Scouts do they develop character as an after-effect. If we try to develop character in object lessons and sermons we may miss the powerful experiential opportunities. A campfire is worth a thousand words.
When Scouts do things Scouts do they advance as an after-effect. When Scouts ‘do requirements’ they check things off in a book. A true breakthrough, really understanding the concepts and skills are worth a thousand badges.
The secret to Scouting is simply “do what Scouts do”, everything else follows that simple idea, everything else is window dressing.
—What do Scouts do?—
Scouts go camping and while they are camping they-
- Cook the food that they selected, purchased and packed.
- Light campfires.
- Set up tents and tarps.
- Build things with sticks and string.
- Learn how to experience the natural world without leaving a trace.
- Use edge tools safely.
Scouts go swimming and boating and while they are swimming and boating they-
- Learn how to swim better.
- Learn how to paddle a canoe or a rowboat.
- Learn about safety in and on the water.
- Learn how to aid people in distress on or in the water.
Scouts are participating citizens, and as participating citizens they-
- Learn about their community and the way it is governed.
- Serve others in various ways.
- Learn how to responsibly use resources and technology.
- Act and react to others with decency and character.
- Learn about their nation it’s history and traditions.
Scouts go on hikes and when they go on hikes they-
- Read and follow maps.
- Use compasses and GPS units to guide themselves.
- Learn and practice safe hiking skills.
Scouts help other people and when they help other people they-
- Render first aid.
- Respond to emergencies.
- Support the needy.
I could go on but you get it by now, right?
Do what Scouts do.