How the Boy Scouts of America Did Something Right

Posted: October 14, 2014 in Thoughts
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I returned back home from West Des Moines this past weekend to help my dad with an annual kettle corn sales event for the boy scouts. It was a part of a bigger event called Heritage days where an old town 10 miles away is revived for a weekend and we all pretend we actually care about the history and sell overpriced novelties.

As I was getting burns on my hands and losing hair on my arms from the hot kettle, I realized how much I appreciate my time with the scouts. (You better believe it) Not only did I have some of the best trips and some great laughs with the group that I had it installed something into all of us that a lot of boys don’t have growing up anymore.

And that is any sense of rites of passage

In the scouts, you start out as a cub scout, mostly just enjoying some camping, swimming, hiking, climbing, selling popcorn door to door, tieing knots, the simple stuff. You learn some basic skills in the outdoors before moving onto the Boy Scouts.

In this process you have ceremonies for each advancement, even as a young child, the importance of ceremony and achievement are celebrated immensely. Small accomplishments and recognition along the way creates a feeling of worth and really teaches how a lot of projects operate. It’s the small incremental changes building up that creates tangible results without burnout.

Once a cub scout gets a taste of what it will be like to advance to a boy scout ranking he enters what they call an Arrow of Light ceremony. From what I remember at the age of 11 or 12 there was a large gathering for every scout in the district crossing over to the boy scout rank where they would have designated “bridge” to cross into manhood and would receive an golden arrow as proof.

Even before these boys become teenagers they understand rites of passage better than some grown men.

Once the crossing over has been made, the work required intensifies, but was usually more fun. Boy scout camp was the first place I got the chance to shoot an arrow, rifle, and shotgun. I traveled to the black hills and raise the flag at Mt. Rushmore during the presentation for tourists. I got to kayak lake superior, go caving/spelunking in the pitch black darkness. Even a yearly trip to see a hockey game was on the agenda.

I know I might get some shit for posting about my times with the scouts, but I cant discredit the the skills they try to teach young men before the cut off of turning 18. Things like first aid, citizenship, communication, cooking, personal fitness, emergency preparedness, sustainability, personal management, (personal finance), hiking, camping, and family life are hardly taught anymore by the schools or negative male role models who admire the likes of Peter Griffin.

With the scouts you did the work and it was recognized.

With the scouts their was hierarchy where everyone knew their place and accepted it until the time or advancement was at hand.

With the scouts everyone pitched in or we all suffered because of it. No one was a slacker or they were made the bitch for the rest of the trip.

I cannot thank the leaders I had enough for being mostly positive male role models for those who may not have had any.



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