The 13th Point -- A Scout is Hungry

Most Scouts --and many people-- are aware that there are only 12 points to the American Scout Law, a listing of statements about the goals of the American boy that enters the "circle of friendship" called Boy Scouting. Those are the official words, the 12 sets of POSITIVE statements that explain what a Boy Scout should strive for, what is expected of him by his peers, faith, and himself.

What a Scout is.

Scouts do not enter into those agreements lightly. We educate them during the process of becoming a Scout. They know from other kids--and perhaps from TV or the movies -- of some of the "rules". It has come out only recently [note: this was originally written in 1988 before the first round of public objections to the usage of the Scout Law to "remove members and leaders from the movement"] that this all could somehow be held "against them" if they chose to ignore what they promised "on their honor" to do. We do not do a good job of telling our Scouts about the history of the Scouting movement in this nation or any other or about the words they mouth each and every week like robots.

For instance, in the old days, when a Scout was dishonest, he simply came to his Scoutmaster, explained the situation, and tearfully handed over his Scout badge to the Scoutmaster. This placed the Scoutmaster in a dual role of "close friend" and "judge". There were no questions, no ceremony. That is what Scouts did. If the Scoutmaster felt that the Scout deserved the badge, he returned it to the Scout; if not, the Scout would leave Scouting, perhaps feeling like Chuck Connors did in the start of the television series "Branded": he let his fellow Scouts down and set out to "make it right". The same went with the rest of the Scout Law points.

Likewise, when a Scout told someone "Scout's Honor", you could "take it to the bank", "bet on it", or equate it to "swearing on a stack of Bibles". It was THAT IRON-CLAD a promise. And believe you me, if you chose NOT to uphold THAT promise, you let ALL Scouts down!

Today, we don't make Scouts hand over their badges and the way I understand it, we are getting to the point whereby the Scoutmaster is no longer the "close friend" of each and every Scout and "judge" of their character. Today, we leave it to people whom do not know of the Scout, people whom have other vested interests in the Scout to tell us of the Scouts' character and friendship.

Most times, they fail to realize that the Scout CAN be held to a higher standard than "just a kid". Just like his father and his father before him was.

We do not hold our Scouts to that "Scout's Honor" credo because we ourselves are not altogether sure that children should be held to that high of a standard. "They are children, and children should be able to act like children, behave like children. And children do lie from time to time". "Scout's Honor" today is like "yeah, right", "don't bet on it", and my favorite, "sure".

We have started to turn the program over to others and we do not care about this turnover. "It's not my job" comes to mind.

So, since we have allowed our program to reflect today's lifestyles, with today's problems, it is only right that somehow those original 12 points be supplemented to reflect today's Scouting realities. One of those realities is that today's Scout CANNOT cook.

In our earlier days, part of the First Class requirements was that a Scout must prepare an ENTIRE MEAL (including dessert) for his Patrol and two other guests. This required him to know something about the various kinds of fires, cooking preparation tools, recipes and formulas and what happens when you run out of milk or eggs. It also required some knowledge of cleaning and rinsing as well as washing of hands and foodstuffs before preparation.

It even required you to know how to set the table.

Today's requirements have changed so much that now the Scout prepares nine meals, with help and with "prepared scripts" because in reality, nobody REALLY cooks because everything today is prepackaged, ready-to-cook and "all-in-a-box". We don't care about disease because we use plastic forks and spoons, and eat from aluminum trays. Therefore, little cleanup and we never get to teach how to build a grease pit. "We have to care about the environment, too".

Instead of taking perhaps all afternoon to prepare the dinner meal, it now takes five boxtops, two shakes and a fire for the popcorn.

Yet, even with all of that convenience, I STILL see Scouts hungry. Those are the ones running down the hill to the trading post after dinner for the hamburger and ice-cream sandwiches.

I see them because I'm in line with them.

Now before all of you Eagle Scouts show me your Cooking Merit Badge cards, send me letters about how you have won first prize at the Jamboree, or wowed over your parents one night, answer me this:

Have you made DINNER (not just "beenie-weenies" but an ENTIRE MEAL) for your DATE? How about for your BOSS? Did they leave SMILING (not doubled-over or in need of Pepto-Bismol)?

Did your prize Deepdish Three-Fruit Cobbler win -- no PLACED -- at your State Fair? At your County Fair? Did you enter it in the Pillsbury Bake-Off (and don't laugh...the way things are going there's BOUND to be a man to eventually win it...I strive to be that man one of these days!)

Well then, you, like me, are HUNGRY. Not just for food...but for KNOWLEDGE. The Thirteenth Scout Law states:

"A Scout is Hungry. He thirsts for the new challenge, the new opportunity that his world, nation, community and neighborhood places in front of him. He hungers for knowledge and the ability to appreciate new things, to see things in the eyes of others. He gladly shares his knowledge and experiences with others, and is ready for the benefit, that "dessert", in which after he shares his knowledge with others, that they in turn, do so with him".

Your challenge, fellow Scout, is to bake that Deepdish Three-Fruit Cobbler and to PLACE in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. It is to be able to cook, clean, sew and fend for yourself without the benefit of your parents, or your mate, or even the laundry and dry-cleaners. It is to educate yourself -- and others -- as to what Scouting really is, why it exists and what you have gained from it.

For if you choose NOT to do those things, eventually the program will be handled over to those that will want Scouting to be that program for the "rich kids", for the ones that can "afford to follow the Scout Law", because we all saw that "it can't be for EVERY kid that wants a challenge...they can't even follow the OLD laws!"

You must continue to challenge yourself. Better yourself. Walk one more mile than you did last year. Read one more book --and understand what you read -- than last year. Meet 365 more people -- and get to know them -- than you did this past year. You must never get full of education and learning and knowledge.

When I send letters to new Eagle Scouts, I always close with one of my favorite lines. I did not write this...authorship actually belongs to some fella at the BSA's Editorial Service. It appears on just about every rank card, though: "Don't forget to share your knowledge as you walk onward the Scouting trail". That's a great statement. It always reminds me that Scouting is just a game...but a game with a strong, important, goal: to get somewhere and to share what your learn as you get there.

Learn how to set that table, then do it for someone else other than your parents. Take that prized Dutchoven recipe and share with some older folks that remember what a cobbler SHOULD taste like. Talk with others --even those that do not share your views or your feelings or thoughts-- you will never know WHY they feel the way they do until you ask them. Read your newspaper and respond to issues that you care about. Use your knowledge and your skills to help others at all times. That's the Scouting way.

And learn to cook, both over a fire and over a stove.

(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)

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