Thursday, June 27, 2013

More scouting

I was recently clued in to a really cool organization called Charity Watch.   Kinda cool to get an independent review of all the "charitable" organizations out there, and what their grade is.  I was especially pleased to see that the Boy Scouts of America are among the highest rated of them all.  That's just straight up cool.

As a youngin I had a good number of scout leaders over the years, some good, some bad, some kinda indifferent.  But throughout all that time, I have to admit that the Boy Scouts was a profoundly educational experience, even through the bad times.  I would venture to say that other than basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, Boy Scouts has taught me far more practical everyday life lessons than school really did.

Cub Scouts can be a massive waste of time, depending on what kind of leaders you have, but the Boy Scouts invariably teaches some worthwhile stuff.  I learned how to shoot , basic survival skills, first aid, orienteering, being demonstrated good leadership, the effect of terrible leadership, navigating/sidestepping bureaucratic red tape, the importance of honor and honesty, self-determination, personal responsibility, and even chivalry.  All of these things being immensely useful to boy like myself who had far too many problems with all those things.
Ripped straight from the first official Scout Handbook, circa 1911.  Yeah, that's the original caption for the pic. 
Ultimately, I left the Boy Scouts before achieving any rank of significance, but it's mark is still felt.  All in all, I'm still a fan of 'em, but that isn't to say there aren't ways they can improve.
Like bringing back that red beret.  Those were straight up hard. core. awesome.  I was the only kid I knew who had one.  Despite no longer being made, they are still officially authorized uniform head wear (not to mention the coolest).
I'm reminded of the line in Red Dawn (not the crappy new one!) in which Col. Bella is questioning the mayor about his son, and describes him as being "Part of an elite paramilitary organization: Eagle Scout."  This line always incites a laugh from the audience, and I sometimes think on why that is.  Certainly honor and respect is due to all those who truly earned their Eagle, and didn't the boy scouts kinda draw a lot of inspiration from the military scouts when they started, hence being organized in patrols and troops?  Here's an excerpt from the first official scout handbook illustrating my point:

Aim of the Scout Movement
By John L. Alexander, Boy Scouts of America
The aim of the Boy Scouts is to supplement the various existing educational agencies, and to promote the ability in boys to do things for themselves and others. It is not the aim to set up a new organization to parallel in its purposes others already established. The opportunity is afforded these organizations, however, to introduce into their programs unique features appealing to interests which are universal among boys. The method is summed up in the term Scoutcraft, and is a combination of observation, deduction, and handiness, or the ability to do things. Scoutcraft includes instruction in First Aid, Life Saving, Tracking, Signaling, Cycling, Nature Study, Seamanship, Campcraft, Woodcraft, Chivalry, Patriotism, and other subjects. This is accomplished in games and team play, and is pleasure, not work, for the boy. All that is needed is the out-of-doors, a group of boys, and a competent leader.

What Scouting Means
In all ages there have been scouts, the place of the scout being on the danger line of the army or at the outposts, protecting those of his company who confide in his care.
The army scout was the soldier who was chosen out of all the army to go out on the skirmish line.
The pioneer, who was out on the edge of the wilderness, guarding the men, women, and children in the stockade, was also a scout. Should he fall asleep, or lose control of his faculties, or fail on his watch, then the lives of the men, women, and children paid the forfeit, and the scout lost his honor.
But there have been other kinds of scouts besides war scouts and frontier scouts. They have been the men of all ages, who have gone out on new and strange adventures, and through their work have benefited the people of the earth. Thus, Columbus discovered America, the Pilgrim Fathers founded New England, the early English settlers colonized Jamestown, and the Dutch built up New York. In the same way the hardy Scotch-Irish pushed west and made a new home for the American people beyond the Alleghanies and the Rockies.
These peace scouts had to be as well prepared as any war scouts. They had to know scoutcraft. They had to know how to live in the woods, and be able to find their way anywhere, without other chart or compass than the sun and stars, besides being able to interpret the meaning of the slightest signs of the forest and the foot tracks of animals and men.
They had to know how to live so as to keep healthy and strong, to face any danger that came their way, and to help one another. These scouts of old were accustomed to take chances with death and they did not hesitate to give up their lives in helping their comrades or country. In fact, they left everything behind them, comfort and peace, in order to push forward into the wilderness beyond. And much of this they did because they felt it to be their duty.
These little-known scouts could be multiplied indefinitely by going back into the past ages and reading the histories and stories of the knights of King Arthur, of the Crusaders, and of the great explorers and navigators of the world.
Wherever there have been heroes, there have been scouts, and to be a scout means to be prepared to do the right thing at the right moment, no matter what the consequences may be.

So other than the emphasis on fun, the lack of a bumbling bureaucracy, and no hard-as-nails regs or NJPs, it kinda follows the same tenants as what the average military scout sniper is taught.  Heck, I wish my scout manual had instructions on stalking prey, hand signals, drawing range cards, and freaking blacksmithing.

New logo to the left, good logo on the right
Oh, and they desperately need to drop that bull-crap, pansy-looking new postal worker logo, and totally rock it old school.

No comments:

Post a Comment