By Kevin V. Hunt (KevintheScout blogger)
Published on KevintheScout blogsite April 30, 2018.
Part 1 of 2: A challenge to all Scout Leaders everywhere:
Every Scouter and youth leader has a sacred privilege and opportunity to touch the hearts of the youth they serve. I give each of you (and me) the challenge to use your whole heart and soul to inspire youth. It takes some time and effort and advance preparation but with that effort you can create inspirational moments that they will remember long after the campfire embers are gone.
When I was a teen Scout, I had the privilege of hearing talks of inspiration by a great Scouter named S. Dilworth Young. Dilworth was one of the greatest of professional Scouters. He later became a prominent church leader. In a church talk, he once said, “Every Scout test should be to practice a boy in honor, integrity, decency and faith.” That was a challenge for every-day Scouting – and not just around the campfire.
On another occasion, Mr. Young lamented that he had not better utilized his precious campfire moments with his Scouting boys. He asked Scout leaders, “Have you used a campfire to inspire [and motivate] a boy … He then continued, “The opportunity I missed to do this is one of my most intense regrets.”
“Firelight producing flickering shadows through the darkening trees – or reproducing itself endlessly in the lapping waters of a quiet lake, the moon making delicate filigree through the canopy of leaves, the mysterious stars winding their eternal signals of distant worlds – all have put a boy in a receptive mood to hear my message.”
He continued: “I have achieved some fame as a story teller,” he said. “The one I am most famous for is called ‘The Windigo’, Algernon Blackwood’s thriller about the New Brunswick woods.
“That story never [inspired or motivated] …a boy. It was a thrilling story, but the motivation was not of the kind which [inspired a boy]; rather it tended to pull the covers over his head.
“I have often wondered what would have happened if I had told these boys – some 15,000 of them of – [things that would bring them closer to their God]. I could have influenced every boy to thirst to find his relationship to God our Father, and His Son, and then to go forth to be saved from grave danger by the miracle of the intervention of heavenly aid.”
On another occasion, he said, “I cannot recall many occasions that I have heard a Scoutmaster bear his witness at a campfire that Jesus is the Christ. I have been guilty of that myself. Could I do it over again, I would use many more occasions before the last embers died, to stand there and tell my boys of the living Christ and of the goodness of him in these days to [us].”
The Scouting program is the perfect mechanism by which men can teach boys and youth values, love of God and Christ, duty to God, honor and virtue, integrity and faith. Outdoor hikes and activities provide a natural setting for boys to really learn these eternal truths.
In the out-of-doors, a boy is drawn naturally to the woods, the trees, the blue sky, the star-filled heavens and the handiwork of God. The campfire program captivates a boy and holds him in eternal abeyance as he thoughtfully stares into the glowing embers. Boys are prepared to listen, learn, love and internalize that which he hears under such circumstances. In the outdoor experience the boy yearns to understand that which is eternal. The out-of-doors provides an unmatched setting for practicing truths heard in church and family gatherings and meetings.
Campfire programs are a natural place and time to inspire the hearts of boys and youth. But, we have other opportunities, as well. One such opportunity is the “Scouter’s Minute” at the end of each troop meeting. Each troop meeting planning sheet (available from BSA) shows the Scouter’s Minute as a definite and specific part of the meeting. Are we using this valuable time with our Scouts or do we simply get the meeting closed so that the boys will be gone? Again, with time and effort – and advance planning, this too, can be a valuable time to touch and inspire our Scouts.
As a camp director and a leader in various Scouter roles through the years, I have often had the opportunity to share my moments with Scouts. This could happen at flag ceremonies. It sometimes came when I found myself on the trail with a few Scouts. And again, the campfire was a perfect time and space to motivate and inspire. And when I have been prepared and ready for such occasions when they came, I was able to use my Scouting experience to share with my brother Scouts. And when I did, the results were electrifying and wonderful. I felt good to be a Scout leader and I think that Scouts felt the power and influence of the Scouting Spirit radiating from me out to them.
So, here’s the challenge … Be prepared … and then reach out and USE YOUR HEART AND SOUL TO INSPIRE YOUTH! And in so doing, you will build a bond of brotherhood that will remain with them forever. And thinking back thirty years later, that will be a part of what they will remember of you and that made you one of their greatest friends and leaders.
Best wishes along your Scouting trails …