The Scoutmaster's Minutes -- Part 2
It won't be long now
before we'll be adding several new Scouts to this troop - the Webelos
Scouts who will be graduating from Cub Scouting.
It goes without saying
that I expect you Scouts to give them a warm welcome. How you treat them
during their first couple of meetings and outings with us will determine
whether they stay in the troop. If you ignore them, make fun of them,
or haze them, some of them are going to drop out in a hurry.
Remember that they are
young kids. Some of you will look like giants to them and if they are
a little timid, they are going to be a bit afraid of you. So I would like
all of you - and especially you older Scouts - to go out of your way to
help the new kids. Perhaps each of you could be a buddy to one of the
new Scouts to get them started right in Scouting.
If you can remember
your days as a Webelos, you'll remember that Webelos means "We'll
be loyal Scouts". I'm sure the graduating Webelos Scouts mean to
be loyal to our troop. But loyalty is a two-way street. Our troop has
to be loyal to them, too. - to make the promises of Scouting fun and adventure
come true for them as well as for older Scouts.
Let's all remember that
and give a warm welcome when our new Scouts join.
Who can tell me what
day falls on June 14th? That's right it's Flag Day. Another question,
why do we celebrate Flag Day on June 14th.
Because it was on that
day in 1777 we got our first official US Flag. The Continental Congress
which made the laws in those days, specified that the flag would have
13 stripes, alternating red and white, and 13 white stars on a blue field.
But that was all the
description they gave. If you remember your flag history, the result was
that a lot of different flags appeared during the Revolutionary War. You
can see pictures of some of them in your handbook. It wasn't until 1912,
135 years later, that the flag became standardized.
It's not very important
that you know a lot about our flags history. What is important though,
is that you are aware that our flag was born very soon after we became
an independent nation, and that millions of men have fought for the flag
as our symbol of freedom.
That's why I hope that
if your family owns a US Flag, you will fly it proudly on Flag Day this
year. In that way, we can show our pride as Americans and our determination
to live as free men.
Scouts, when we go to
our camporee, and later when we are in summer camp, let's remember that
our campsite is our home.
The living room is the
area in front of your patrol site. Your patrol's cooking area is the kitchen
and the patrol dining table is your dining room. The showers and latrine
are your bathroom, and of course your tent is your bedroom.
You wouldn't think of
throwing candy wrappers onto your bedroom floor at home, or of leaving
garbage in your dining room. And even if you did, your parents would soon
get on your case about it.
So whenever we're in
camp, let's treat the campsite the way you treat your own home. Cleanliness
and neatness are the marks of a good camper. In this troop, they are a
As Scouts, we have pledged
ourselves to obey the Outdoor Code and our Wilderness Pledge which call
for us to "be clean in our outdoor manners". That certainly
applies to our life at home in camp, as well as when we're on the trail.
Let's make it a habit to keep a clean, neat home in camp.
Scouts, we've been learning
how to find Polaris, the North Star, because we know it will help us find
our way in the wilderness. For centuries man has known that the North
Star is fixed in the heavens, and it has been used as a navigational aid
by sailors ever since the first adventurers sailed away from the sight
The North Star is still
used that way by mariners and space explorers. So in learning how to find
it, we are joining a very long line of adventurers.
There are some "North
Stars" in our everyday lives, too. One of them is our conscience.
If we listen to our conscience, we can be sure to steer our lives in the
And let's not forget
our Scout Oath and Law, too. They are North Stars because they give us
excellent guidance in how to behave and what we owe to God, country, our
fellow human beings, and ourselves.
When you're lost at
night, look for the North Star. The rest of the time, steer your life
with those other North Stars - your conscience and the Scout Oath and
There used to be a saying
that if a man had great ambition, he was "reaching for the stars".
The idea was that he was so eager to succeed he was willing to try the
impossible, to reach for the stars.
That doesn't seem so
impossible anymore. Men have walked on the moon, a feat that was only
dreamed of not so many years ago. And by the way, did you know that the
first astronauts who walked on the moon were Scouts? One of them, Neil
Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, is an Eagle Scout. That
tells you something about the kind of man he is.
The scientists and astronauts
in our space program brought the impossible dream of reaching for the
stars much closer to reality. Men will never really walk on the stars.
If they tried, they would get a terribly hot foot. But the stars do not
seem so far away as they used to be.
Still the idea expressed
in the phrase, "reaching for the stars," is still valid. It
tells us that to enjoy life to the fullest, we must stretch our abilities
to the limit. A Scout who does his best in everything he tries will become
the kind of man who reaches for the stars.
I know that some of
you read the sports pages and follow the big league pennant races. So
probably you have heard of spring phenoms. Who can tell me what a spring
He is a player who stars
the season like a superstar. In April, May and June he's hitting about
. 350, stealing a lot of bases, and never missing a ball in the field.
Comes July and August and he can't do anything right. That's a spring
Maybe you've seen some
spring phenoms in Scouting, too. They start up the advancement trail like
a house afire, making Second Class and First Class as fast as the rules
allow. Then when the going gets tougher for Star, Life and Eagle, they
sort of fade away like spring phenoms.
Maybe it's the troop's
fault. Maybe we just don't challenge them enough. If so, let's change
that. I'm challenging all of you now to set your sights on the next rank
and make up your mind you're going to make it by Christmas at the latest.
I imagine most of us
have watched the Olympic Games on the television. It's really great watching
the world's greatest athletes competing, isn't it?
Did you know that these
athletes take an oath before they begin competition? Let me read the oath:
"We swear that
we will take part in the Olympic Games in loyal competition, respecting
the regulations that govern them and desirous in participating in them
in the true spirit of sportsmanship for the honor of our country and for
the glory of sport. "
Did you notice that
the oath says nothing about winning? Of course the athletes want to win.
After all, they have been training for four years or more to get ready
for the games.
But the Olympic ideal
is fair competition, not winning at all costs. Let's remember that ideal
when we have our Aqua-Olympics and any other competitions.
Play to win. But remember
that every athlete must learn to lose gracefully, without alibiing or
complaining. That's the Olympic ideal in a nutshell. It's also the ideal
(Stick a fish hook in a
piece of cloth and show how difficult it is to back out the way it when
Scouts, it sure was
a cinch to put this fishhook into the cloth, but you can see how hard
it is to back it out. It's just like a bad habit - awfully easy to start,
but awfully hard to stop. Some guys your age have started to smoke. It
was easy to start - as easy as it was for me to put the fishhook into
Across our land millions
and millions of smokers have tried to stop smoking and have failed. They
just couldn't get the hook out. If it's so hard to stop and if so many
smokers want to quit, then why start - why get the hook in - in the first
place? Some people think it's manly to smoke. Take a look around you.
Look at who is smoking.
(You will need two poles
and rope to secure them with a square lashing. Tie a square lashing. )
As you watch me tie
these poles together, think about how this lashing might be compared to
success in life. The wrapping turns hold the two poles closely together.
But notice that they are not real tight, and with a little movement of
the poles, the ropes loosen to allow slipping.
Now I add the frapping
turns. I might have been satisfied without these turns, but notice what
happens when I make the extra effort to add them. The frapping turns took
up all the slack in the first turns and tightened the entire lashing the
poles are now securely bound together in place. Repeated movement won't
loosen the ties that bind them together.
These frapping turns
that finished the job took a little extra effort, but what a difference
they made in the job! In life, you will constantly be given chances to
put forth a little extra effort. When you have the chance, don't let these
opportunities pass. Remember the frapping turns.
If you put extra effort
into things you undertake you will find success in life, real lasting
friendships, and the inner knowledge that, come what may, you have done
Everybody here likes
to hear fish stories, the wilder the better. I expect we'll have a lot
of them after our Fishing Camp-Out this month. We enjoy them because they're
funny, and nobody is fooled into thinking they really happened.
But some people tell
fish stories all the time. They're not usually funny stories. In fact,
they're really lies. I call them minnows and whoppers.
Minnows are little lies
that just shade the truth. For instance, maybe a guy is playing Skish
and says he hit a target 55 feet away when it was really only 40 feet.
No serious damage is done, except to the guy's own character, from a minnow
The trouble is, if you
get used to telling minnows, it becomes easier to tell whoppers - the
big lies that may hurt somebody.
The best thing is to
stick to the truth. Minnows have a way of growing into whoppers.
(Hold up two glasses, one
filled with dirty water, one sparkling clean water. )
Scouts, which would
you prefer to drink? The answer is pretty obvious, isn't it?
We can do our part to
ensure that we always have plenty of good clean water. We can't do it
all by ourselves because water may be polluted by erosion of the soil,
sewage, industrial wastes, and other causes. Those types of pollution
can only be cleaned up by action of our state and federal governments.
I'm glad to say that our government conservation departments are working
hard to conserve our water resources.
But every Scout, and
every other citizen, has a responsibility, too. For one thing, we can
make sure we don't pollute the water when we're out fishing, swimming,
or camping along a water source. We have to make sure that we never throw
litter or garbage into a stream or lake. We don't dig latrines near a
stream or lake. We use soap instead of a detergent for dishwashing in
camp. We do that, because nature can't break down a detergent as it does
soap. So if our old soapy dishwater filters into the stream, it won't
be a pollutant for very long.
Let's try to remember
that on our Fishing Camp-Out. We can all help to make a contribution to
clean water for ourselves and for future Americans.
Like any other profession,
the computer field has a lot of special words, like pixel, RAM, ROM, crash,
bits, bytes and nibbles. All these terms have precise meanings for computer
specialists. My favorite is a made-up word. It's GIGO, spelt G-I-G-O.
Does anyone know what it means? It stands for "Garbage In, Garbage
That's the computer
experts way of saying that if you put the wrong information into a computer
you will get a false result. The computer is a marvelous machine, but
it can only work with the data you feed it. If that data is wrong then
the computer's answer will be wrong, too.
"Garbage In, Garbage
Out" is true of the human mind, too. Your mind is the most powerful
computer ever created, but like this home computer we have here, it depends
on what you put into it. For example, if you always hang around with guys
that use terrible language, it will be imprinted in your brain's circuits,
and it probably won't be long before garbage is coming out of your mouth,
too. Same thing with actions. If your friends are always trying to rip
things off or hurt other people in some way, you can almost be sure that
you'll pick up their habits.
So when you're choosing
friends, remember GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out.
This month we've had
a chance to learn a little about computers. You've seen that they're good
for a lot more than playing games, and maybe you've gotten a glimpse of
what the future will be like in the Computer Age before you. By the time
you are adults, your homes will probably be controlled by computers. Computers
will control the temperature by turning on the furnace or air conditioner,
wake you in the morning with soothing music, turn on the lawn sprinkler
when sensors say the ground is dry, and control a robot that does the
house cleaning. At work, no matter what your job is, there will be some
kind of computer there to help you. Thousands of uses for computers that
we can't even imagine now will be everyday stuff by the time you are men.
Sounds great, doesn't
it? It will be. Computers are surely going to change the way we live.
But they won't change what we are - human beings with a need to love and
be loved, to be useful, and to get along with other human beings. That's
why I think the Scout Law will be just as important 50 years from now
as it is today. And that's why it's important now, while you are young,
you begin to learn to live by the Scout Law. Let's remind ourselves of
what that means by thinking about each point of the Law as we repeat it.
The name of our program
this month is "Sharing the Good Life. " At times you may think
your life isn't all that great, especially when you have a lot of homework
or your parents are bearing down on you.
But if you think about
it for a moment, you'll realize that you do have a good life. You have
three good meals a day, a home to go to, a chance to go to school, plenty
of friends, and maybe a little spending money. You also have parents who
love you, and that's a big blessing; I'm sure they do lots of Good Turns
for you that you hardly ever think about.
This month we're going
to do a Good Turn for two reasons. One is that our Scout Oath pledges
us to help other people. The other is that we owe something to those around
us - our parents, our community, and our troops chartered organization.
You might call this Good Turn a Good Turnabout because in part it's a
way to show our appreciation.
(Mention your troops
planned Good Turn. )
I expect to see all
of you out on our Good Turn day, not because you have to be but because
you want to. As the old saying goes. "Turnabout is fair play,"
and with this Good Turn we'll be saying thanks to those who have helped
us. (or our community or our nation, depending on who will benefit from
the Good Turn)
Next week we'll have
our big family night and court of honor, and I'm hoping that all your
families will be her and have a great time. We only have a family activity
once every three or four months, so it's a big deal for us when our parents,
brothers and sisters join us at a court of honor or other event. But you
know, every night should be family night for you.
Sound strange? Well
I don't mean that the troop should meet every night and invite our families.
What I do mean is that you should share some part of everyday with your
families. Maybe just during the dinner hour or even 15 minutes over your
homework. The point is that your family is the center of your life and
will remain so until you're grown up and are leaving home, perhaps to
start a new family.
If you have a chemistry
set at home with a little vial of mercury in it, try this experiment.
Put a glob of mercury on a piece of paper. Then take a knife and cut it
up into three or four smaller globs. When you tilt the paper towards the
center, the little globs will run together into a big glob again. A family
is like that - two or three or four or more individuals who come together
at times into one big whole. Make it a point to share some time with your
family every day.
Nations, states communities
and even families have laws. These are simple rules by which people must
live in order to have harmony. If we didn't have rules or laws to govern
ourselves, society would be impossible.
If a person breaks the
law of the land, he is penalized in some way. He might be fined or sent
to prison. If you break one of your family's laws or rules, you get penalized,
too. Maybe your time to watch television is cut back, or maybe you get
Each of us needs his
own set of laws to govern himself, too. These are your personal standards,
the laws by which you live. In Scouting, we call those standards the Scout
What's the penalty for
breaking the Scout Law? Maybe you think the penalty would not be so bad,
but let's consider it for a moment. If you're not trustworthy, people
will never depend on you. If you're not friendly, you won't have many
friends. If you're not obedient to your teachers, parents and others in
authority, you can't expect that other people will obey you when you're
There's a good reason
for every kind of law - our nation's, our town's, our family's and our
own. They show how we can live in harmony with others and with ourselves.
Let's think about that as we repeat the Scout Law. (Lead Law).
Next week we're going
on our Winter Campout. For you new Scouts especially, it's going to be
a test of what you've learned about camping and being comfortable outdoors.
Camping is easy and
fun in the spring, summer and fall because while you may get wet occasionally,
it's not much trouble to get dry and warm again. Camping in winter is
fun, too, but it's not so easy to stay comfortable when the temperature
is around the freezing mark and cold rain or snow is falling.
That's why it's so important
that we're all prepared for winter camping. Tonight we've checked our
camping equipment and each patrol has planned some nutritious meals for
camp. We've also practiced some of the things we'll need to do to stay
warm and dry and have fun in camp.
I suggest that each
patrol go over their preparations once more before camp. Remember that
Mother Nature is easy on us through most of the year, but in winter she
can be unforgiving for Scouts who are not prepared.
(Have a junior assistant
Scoutmaster enter the room apparently in the throes of choking. He's gasping
for breath, grabbing his throat, turning red. See what the response is.
Well Scouts, that was
scary, wasn't it? How many of knew what was apparently happening to him?
How many of you knew the proper first aid?
Jim was just acting,
of course, to make a point. The point is you have to be mentally awake
to be prepared to give first aid. It's one thing to practice slapping
backs and doing the manual thrusts. It's another to recognize trouble
when it comes and know what to do without panicking. Sure you may be a
little scared the first time you have to make real rescue or give first
aid to someone who really needs it. But that's the test of the first aider.
Be alert to recognize
trouble. When it comes, stay cool. Then act. Your training in first aid
in our troop probably will make you better prepared to help than anyone
else on the scene.
So far this month, we've
spent most of our time learning first aid. We've been trying to prepare
ourselves to help other people when they're sick or injured.
But there's more to
being prepared than knowing first aid. Real preparedness is many things
- knowledge, confidence, and having the necessary equipment on hand when
it's needed. We want to be ready for any emergency.
Next week we'll be testing
ourselves on our readiness for emergency action. Our tests will not only
require skill in first aid, but the ability to communicate well, to think
through a problem, and to work together as a patrol.
Those are the kinds
of skills that are useful in a disaster. If our town was hit by a tornado,
we might be called out to help rescuers, but maybe we wouldn't be asked
to do any first aid. We could be asked to serve as messengers, direct
traffic , or cook and serve food.
That's why it's important
that we prepare ourselves by learning more about our community and by
practicing all sorts of Scout skills. And that's why it's important that
you take full advantage of what Scouting has to offer by taking part in
all our activities and doing your best to move up in rank. By the time
you're a First Class scout, you'll be prepared for many kinds of service.
The Chinese have a saying,
"The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. "
There's a lesson for us in that saying.
I'm thinking of advancement.
If you come to troop meetings without ever looking in your Official Boy
Scout Handbook all week long and if you never ask how to pass a test or
who to see about a merit badge, you'll never advance
very far in Scouting.
In Scouting, and in life, the rewards don't come to those who sit back
and wait for something to be handed to them on a silver platter.
I would like to see
every one of you set the Eagle Scout badge as you goal in Scouting. As
a step toward that goal, I hope that most of you will receive some award
at our court of honor at the end of this month.
Whatever the goal you
set for yourself, remember that only you can take that first step toward
it. No one can do it for you. Once you've taken that first step the next
step becomes easier. And the ones after that will be easier still because
you're on the way along the Scouting trail.
We're calling our campout
next week a Happy Birthday Campout because February is the anniversary
of the Boy Scouts of America. We're going to observe the birthday by showing
the public in our community what good Scouting is all about.
So in some ways this
is an extra special campout. We want to look and act like Scouts, which
means that we'll ask you to wear your uniforms and be on your best behavior.
This doesn't mean you
can't have fun. In fact I think we'll have a lot of fun, but we'll do
it in ways that will bring credit to our troop and to Scouting.
We're also having a
court of honor this month as part of our birthday celebration. During
the court program, we will ask you and your parents to contribute to Scouting's
World Friendship Fund. This is a special fund of the Boy Scouts of America
to help Scouting associations in poor countries. The fund provides money
for equipment, uniforms, and training for leaders. It's one of the ways
that all of us can help promote the idea of Scouting as a world brotherhood.
I suggest that each
of you consider giving a quarter to the fund. If that's too much, give
what you can. Whatever you give, you will have the satisfaction of knowing
that you have helped a brother Scout in another country.
(Take a bearing with a compass)
One day a Scout named
Bill was sighting with his compass, as I'm doing now. "Top of that
hill is 045 degrees," said Bill, "I'm going to follow that bearing
and end up on top. "
Bill started off checking
his compass now and then to make sure he was heading right. Finally he
set foot on top of the hill.
He had done three things
- set his objective, figured out the direction he'd have to go to get
there, and then moved full steam ahead.
Like all of you, Bill
set a lot of courses towards many goals in his lifetime. Maybe he said
to himself, "I'm going to be an engineer. " Then he would find
out what it takes to become an engineer, and steer his course in that
By the end of this month,
all of you should be able to set a compass course. Probably all of you
have set a course toward a career. There's another kind of course that's
more important than your career. I'm talking about the character course.
. Your character is being formed right now by what you do and don't do.
We have a "compass"
for the character course, too. It's the Scout Oath and Law. Set your character
course using the Oath and Law and you'll have the best kind of character.
You'll be the kind of
man that others can trust, rely upon and admire. you'll go to the top
of the character hill.
Scouts, our Law say's
"A Scout is kind. A Scout understand that there is strength in being
gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or
kill harmless things without reason. " Some of you may already be
hunters. No doubt others will hunt as you get older. I have a question
for you: Is a hunter following the Scout Law when he shoots wild creatures?
(Get answers. )
It seems to me that
the key words in this point of the Law are, "without reason,"
a Scout does not hurt or kill without reason. If you're going hunting
for food, or to kill pests that are destroying property, or are hunting
animals that are dangerous to man, you're not hunting without reason.
So you are not violating the Scout Law.
But never aim at a target
you don't intend to hit. And if your target is a living creature, be sure
you're not killing it without reason. A Scout is kind, and he does not
blast away just for fun. He shoots only for good reason.
Tonight we've spent
a lot of time talking about the four food groups we need to be healthy.
And we've looked up some of those recipes, using those four food groups.
I hope you'll remember what you've learned when we go on our campout at
the end of this month because I'm getting tired of hamburgers and hot-dogs.
But just as a balanced
diet of foods is vital for your physical health, so is a balanced diet
of activities vital for your mental and spiritual health. You all know
by now, that if you ate nothing but potato chips, candy and soda, you
wouldn't stay healthy very long. The same idea applies to your activities.
If you did nothing but
play sports all the time, and neglected your schoolwork, your religious
duties, your Scouting, and other activities with friends, you would be
a pretty sad case before long. Oh, you might be a good ball player, but
that's all. You would not make any progress mentally, spiritually or as
a person who is a pleasure to be around.
Well, you might say,
I love sports. Fine - play them - and play for all your worth. But remember
that life has many satisfactions besides sports. Don't cut yourself from
them by spending all your time in one activity.
Join a school club.
Become active in your churches youth group. Come to every troop meeting
and activity. Take full advantage of school; don't do just enough work
to get by. And play sports.
You can do it all, and
if you do I think you'll enjoy life even more than you do now.
(Hold up two cooking pots,
one shiny bright on the inside but sooty outside, the other shiny outside
and dirty inside. )
Scouts, which of these
pots would you rather have your food cooked in? Did I hear someone say
"Neither one. " That's not a bad answer. We wouldn't have much
confidence in a patrol cook who didn't have his pots shiny both inside
and out. But if we had to make a choice, we would tell the cook to use
the pot that's clean on the inside. The same applies to people.
Most people keep themselves
clean on the outside. But how about the inside? Do we try to keep our
minds and our language clean? I think that's more important than keeping
the outside clean.
A Scout of course, should
be clean inside and out. Water, soap, and a toothbrush takes care of the
Only your determination
will keep the inside clean. You can do it by following the Scout Law and
the example of the people you respect - your parents, your teacher, your
clergyman, or a good buddy who is trying to do the same thing.
Perhaps you've heard
some people say that life is a hike between the cradle and the grave.
For some, it's a long trip of many moons. For others it's a short trip
that ends unexpectedly.
But all of us are equipped
for life's trip with two knapsacks - one to be carried on the back the
other to be carried on the chest.
The average hiker on
the trail of life puts the faults of others into the knapsack on his chest
so that he can always see them. His own faults he puts in the sack on
his back so that he can't see them without special effort. He hikes through
life constantly noticing the faults of other people but usually overlooking
his own faults.
Scouts, this pack arrangement
is bad because no one can have a successful life just finding fault with
It's the man who can
see his own faults and strives to correct them who enjoys the hike through
life the most and finally enter the Happy Hunting Ground with thanksgiving.
Let's place the knapsack
with our own faults upon our chests and put the bag with others' mistakes
behind us. That way we'll have a happier hike through life.
(Show a pair of well worn
hiking boots. )
These old boots have
taken me over a lot of miles of trail. They're really comfortable. Whoever
coined the expression, "as comfortable as and old shoe," must
have been talking about these old boots.
But once, a long time
ago, they were brand new and stiff as a board. Oh, I softened them up
with some polish and saddle soap, but mostly I broke them in by using
One step at a time -
that's the way good boots become good friends.
Good habits are like
that, too. The first time you something hard that you know is right, you
may feel as uncomfortable as a new boot. For instance, maybe a friend
suggests that the two of you steal the answers to a quiz from the teacher's
desk. Maybe that doesn't seem too bad -
bad you know it's wrong
and perhaps you hesitate. But you refuse to do it, even though your friend
call you chicken.
Nobody likes to be called
chicken but you'll be secretly glad you refused. And I'm sure you'll find
it easier the next time, because, like these boots, good habits become
more comfortable each time they're used.
What's the fourth point
of the Scout Law? That's right - "A Scout is friendly. "
Do you have as many
friends as you'd like to have? Real friends, I mean? The kind of guys
you're glad to see, and who are glad to see you?
Well maybe not. Lots
of us would like to make more friends, but somehow it doesn't seem to
happen. Well the secret of making friends is simple - being friendly.
If you're a put down artist, or if you're always trying to rip off everybody
or get the better of them in some way you're not going to have many friends.
Nobody like to be put down or ripped off.
The Bible gives the
key to making friends. It's called the Golden Rule - "Do unto others
as you would have them do unto you. " That's a great rule to remember
in everything you do. And it's a perfect prescription for making friends.
Scouts, next week we're
going to practice some of the skills of what is called minimum impact
camping, when we're outdoors for our Park Service project. As you've ;earned
this month, the idea of minimum impact camping is to leave no trace that
we were ever there when we leave a campsite or hike a trail.
As part of our opening
ceremony tonight we heard a reading of the Outdoor Code. You should be
familiar with that because we recite it every once in a while and it's
in your Scout handbook. Now we're going to read and think about a code
that goes a step further. It's called the Wilderness Pledge.
The Wilderness Pledge
says: "Through good camping and hiking practices, I pledge myself
to preserve the beauty and splendor of America's wilderness, primitive,
and backcountry areas. I commit myself to: 'Set a personal example in
following the Outdoor Code; train those I lead in the skills and attitudes
needed to protect and preserve wilderness for future generations; and
assure that parties of which I am a part observe the hiking and camping
standards that will
'leave no trace' of
our passing. " That pledge is particularly important when you go
into really wild areas of our beautiful country. You are promising that
you will everything in your power to preserve its beauty for all who follow
Now I would like to
join me as we borrow the first phrase of the Scout Oath to commit ourselves
to the Wilderness Pledge, Please repeat after me: "On my honor I
will do my best," (Scouts' repeat)
Everybody loves the
Fourth of July. In many communities it's a time for parades, fireworks,
ball games and picnics.
Real fun! But we ought
not to forget what the Fourth of July really is - the birthday of our
country - because that's when the Declaration of Independence was adopted
in 1776, over 200 years ago. Here's a trick question for you. How many
stars were in the US flag on the first Fourth of July? You're probably
going to say 13, because there were 13 colonies in America then, but that's
In fact, there weren't
any stars in the flag. The colonists were using the Grand Union Flag,
which used the British union symbol and 13 red and white stripes. You
can see a picture of it in your Official Boy Scout Handbook.
Stars representing the
states first appeared in the US flag 11 years later. Since then, starts
have been added each time states have joined the union.
Today we honor this
emblem of our country with its 50 stars and 13 stripes because it is the
symbol of the nation's unity. We use flag ceremonies so often that it's
easy to forget what the flag means and what the Fourth of July means in
this country's history.
Now I'm going to ask
our honor patrol to retire the colors. As they do it, let's think about
the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the love
of country they passed on to us.
As Scouts and as school
pupils, you spend a lot of time meeting standards. In school your work
may be graded on a scale from A through F. In Scouting, you're asked to
meet a set of standards before you can earn a skill award, merit badge
or new rank.
These are all pretty
clear cut standards. Either you can tie a bowline and perform rescue breathing,
can't. There's nothing
in between. We have other standards in this troop that are harder to measure.
I'm talking about our standards of behavior, dress and grooming, and Scout-like
Soon we're going to
go to summer camp (or on tour), and these standards will be particularly
important then. I'm not saying that they are not important all the time.
But in summer camp (or on tour) you're not just John Smith, you're representing
this troop and the whole Boy Scouts of America.
I hope you'll all remember
that and do your best to be neat and clean, wear your uniform when it's
appropriate, and, above all, to conduct yourselves as Scouts should.
That doesn't mean that
you have to be a goody two-shoes. There's a time for horseplay, getting
mussed up, and teasing. But in this troop, the standard is that when the
horseplay and games are over, we look like Scouts, sound like Scouts,
and conduct ourselves like by the Scout Law.
"What's the 10th
point of the Scout Law? That's right, a Scout is brave. It means that
a Scout is courageous enough to do what needs to be done when someone
is in danger or when other guys laugh at him because he won't do something
he knows is wrong.
a brave person, even the guy who might laugh at him for not going along
with a rip-off. But you know, there's sometimes a fine line between being
brave and being foolhardy or stupid by taking chances that aren't necessary.
"Right now I'm
thinking of the danger when we're in the water. Danger you say, what danger?
I'm a champion swimmer.
Maybe so, but the water
is dangerous all the same. All it would take is a bad cramp or a blow
on the head when you're roughhousing in the water, and you could be an
Olympic gold-winner for all the good it would do you. The cemeteries are
full of strong swimmers who swam alone into deep water. That's why we
have the Safe Swim Defense plan and particularly the buddy system when
we are in the water. And we will insist on using the buddy system every
time - no matter whether you can't swim a stroke or are the best swimmer
in town. "Yes, it's great to be brave - and I hope you all are -
but around water, we'll be cautious, too. "
(Hold up a car key)
I have here in my hand
a key - a small item as you can see. Yet it will open the door to my car,
and when properly placed and turned it will start the engine. With this
little key I can visit faraway places, see wonderful sights, and do so
many things that were impossible a generation ago. Is it any wonder that
I always carry this key with me?
(Hold up a copy of The
Official Boy Scout Handbook)
Your Boy Scout Handbook
is a lot like my car key. It is a small item, yet it will open the door
to Scouting and will speed you on your way to adventure. Sure, you probably
could get by without using your handbook. I could get by without my car
key, too, but I'd have to walk and it would be slow.
I certainly wouldn't
get to see all those places I can reach by car.
Let's not leave our
key behind as we enjoy Scouting.
Use your handbook regularly.
Take it with you to meetings and on hikes and camping trips. Let your
handbook open the door for you.
Scouts, for hiking you
have to use a map scale to measure distance between points.
Tonight I'm thinking
of another kind of measuring. I get the feeling that we don't realize
how often we measure ourselves, day after day.
When you look at a heavy
package and say, "That's too heavy for me to lift," what are
you measuring? The size of the package - perhaps. But even more you're
measuring yourself. You are not big enough to handle this package - or
perhaps you just think you aren't.
It may be your homework.
We say, "It's too much," when we really mean, "I'm not
enthusiastic enough about that much work".
You see, in cases like
that we're talking about ourselves, really, rather than the amount of
Our big idea - all over
America - is "Be of service. " Some may say, "Oh, it's
too much bother," but others will prove that they are big enough
to measure up to this idea.
When we look at a job
we take our own measure.
(Have 3 candle in a holder
before you - one red, one white and one blue)
Have you noticed the
strong bond between our flag and our Scout Oath? Let me show you. (Light
the white center candle. ) One of the colors in our flag is white. It
is the symbol of purity, of perfection. It is like the first point of
our Scout Oath, our duty to God.
(Light the red candle.
) The color red in our flag denotes sacrifice and courage, the qualities
of the founders of our country. . Red is the symbol of the second part
of the Scout Oath, too. Our duty to other people requires courage to help
anyone in trouble and the self-sacrifice of putting others first.
(Light the blue candle.
) Blue is the color of faith. It represents the faith of our founding
fathers and reminds us of the third part of the Scout Oath. Our duty to
ourselves requires us to be true blue, to be strong in character and principle,
to live a life of faith in the importance of being good.
Scouts, rise! Let's
have lights out, please. Now, Scout sign. Let us dedicate ourselves with
our Scout Oath.
(Demonstrate how a magnet
destroys the validity of a compass by causing the needle to veer from North)
Scouts, you have learned
to rely on your compass. You know that the needle points North and will
guide you in the wilderness, but you have also seen what happens when
a magnet is brought near the compass. The magnet is an outside influence
on the character of the compass.
Each Scout has an aim
in life. He wants to grow up to be physically strong, mentally awake and
The points of the Scout
Law make up the magnetic field that directs the compass needle we follow.
Just like the magnet,
there are influences trying to change our aim. There are temptations difficult
to overcome - temptations to get by without working, to lie, to cheat,
to follow the coaxing of friends, and the jeers or threats of enemies.
If you are going to
grow up to be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,
you must not succumb to the attraction of the evil magnets in your life,
but must be steadfast in your purpose of living up to the ideals of Scouting.
Anybody here want to
know how to catch a monkey? Well, I can tell you how they do it in India.
They take a gourd, cut a small hole in it, and then put some rice inside.
Then they tie the gourds down securely and wait for the monkey.
Monkeys are greedy and
selfish. I guess you could say anybody who is greedy and selfish is a
monkey. Anyway, monkeys are so greedy and selfish that they fall for the
gourd trick every time.
The monkey sticks his
paw into the gourd to get the rice. He grabs a handful - but then he can't
get his hand out of the gourd. His fist won't go through the small hole.
And he's so greedy and
selfish that he won't let go of the handful of rice. He just waits there
with his greedy fist wrapped around the rice until the men come and take
Well, you've got the
moral to this story: Don't be greedy and selfish or you may make a "monkey"
You can always spot
the greenhorn - the first year camper - as soon as "Taps" sounds
on the first night in camp. He's the guy who just can't quiet down when
the time comes for sleeping.
The experienced camper,
comfortable and warm in his bed, knows that night is for sleeping - knows
that he'll have more fun and be in better shape for all activities next
day, if he gets a good night's sleep.
The greenhorn is the
fellow who makes an uncomfortable bed with either poor insulation or inadequate
covers and wakes up in the wee small hours, cold and uncomfortable and
unable to get back to sleep. The greenhorn can't stand to be cold and
uncomfortable alone, so he wakes up a few other soundly sleeping fellow
Scouts to share his discomfort.
This, naturally, makes
him an unpopular guy, not only with the fellows that he intentionally
woke up, but with all the other campers who are roused by the noise created
by the greenhorn out chopping wood to keep warm.
Don't be a camp greenhorn.
Night is for sleeping. Be quiet after "Taps" until you get to
sleep, and if you wake up early in the morning, don't give away your inexperience
by getting up. Stay in bed until "Reveille. "
Two brothers once decided
to leave their hometown and move to the city. Outside the city the first
brother met an old man. "How are the people here?" asked the
"Well, how were
the people in your hometown?" asked the old man in return.
"Aw, they were
always grumpy and dissatisfied," answered the first brother. "There
wasn't a single one among them worth bothering about. "
old man said, "you'll find that the people here are exactly the same!"
Later the other brother
came along. "How are the people in this city?" he asked. "How
were the people in your hometown?" the old man asked as before.
the other brother. "Always cheerful, always kind and understanding!"
"You will find
that the people her are exactly the same!" said the old man again,
for he was a wise old man who knew that the attitude of the people you
meet depends upon your own state of mind. If you are cheerful and frank
and good-humored, you'll find others the same.
(Hold up an envelope that
has been delivered by mail)
Scouts, the postage
stamp you see on this envelope was given the job of making sure that this
important piece of mail was delivered to me. The stamp is pretty small
but, in spite of its size, it did the job.
In your patrols, each
of you has the responsibility of "delivering the mail" in order
that your patrol becomes a success. Like the postage stamp, it isn't your
size that determined how well you do the job, rather, how well you stick
We can't all be good
at all things. Some are better at physical skill, some at mental tasks.
Remember the stamp.
It did the job in spite of its size by sticking to the job. Make up your
mind that you can do the same thing. Just determine to do your best -
and stick to it until the job is done.