Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category
I was 10 years old.
It was the most scared I’ve ever been. Ever. More scary than going to the outhouse after dark.
I’m talking scary.
It was my first public speech. I was a new Boy Scout, and somehow got volunteered to give a speech to the Maitland Chamber of Commerce, the sponsoring organization for my Troop 58. I’m sure I was the newest kid, and all of the older kids were smart enough to say, “NO.” So I got to go to the meeting, have a steak dinner at a Mound City restaurant (13 miles from home! And it was probably a truck stop. Just saying.) and give a speech about Boy Scouts.
Since I’d been a Boy Scout for 5 minutes, it ought to have gone well, don’t you think? The topic I was given (why???) was to talk about our local Boy Scout summer camp, Camp Geiger.
Which I had never been to.
And I was speaking to a bunch of men I didn’t know that expected expert commentary. After all, they sponsored our Troop, so it just wouldn’t do for me to be the village idiot while in front of them.
So, I did my research. I put together note cards … indicative of some rather expert coaching from Mom & Sis, I’m sure. I was 10. What did I know?
I wore my uniform, including my official BSA shorts. I would have also had on my official BSA shirt, kerchief & socks. And I carried my official BSA handkerchief in my hip pocket. Styling, I was.
I stood up to give my speech, and that’s when it happened.
My left kneecap started vibrating up and down. Up and down.
I couldn’t make it stop.
Up and down. Up and down.
Throughout my speech, my kneecap had a mind of its own. Up and down. Up and down. I’m sure I read my note cards, but my terror was pervasive. I mean, if your kneecap is so scared that it develops a mind of its own, what’s next? I completed the speech, the old men that had put up with me for my few minutes of terror politely clapped, and I was done.
Since that day, I’ve given many speeches in many different environments. Big audiences. Little audiences. Audiences that knew me well, and some that didn’t know me at all. I’ve even made several speeches in my Scouting uniform.
But not once – not once – has my kneecap vibrated since that day.
May I never be that scared again.
I need to go camping this year.
Boy Scouts participate in the Postal Savings System, led by Gordon F. Chance, patrol leader. Love the boots! 1913. Photos from Shorpy Historical Photos.
Boy’s Life: Postal Savings For Boy Scouts, Nov 1913, p11.
Shorpy Historical Photos
The cover of Boys Life, July 1936.
Bryan on Scouting
For those of us who have been in Scouting for the majority of our lives, the answer seems obvious.
But recently I got an email from a Cub Scout parent who shall remain nameless, asking, “What is a Scouter? I see this word all the time but am unclear about what exactly you’re referring to.”
I realized we use this word all the time in Scouting magazine, on my blog and on social media. And I suppose we just assume that all those new adult leaders out there know the word through some type of magic.
Let’s fix that today. First, the simple definition. The BSA’s Language of Scouting defines this noun as “A registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America who serves in a volunteer or professional capacity.”
That’s the by-the-book definition, but we can do better. So I asked our Facebook friends to weigh in on the subject…
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Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. Photo by Don Paulson.
Did you see the news coverage this week of the “Boy Scout Leaders” that destroyed a rock formation in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park?
The images were disgusting. The idea was disgusting. My quibble, here, is the headline of “Boy Scout Leaders” getting the blame for destroying a rock formation in a state park.
Two guys, named Dave Hall and Glenn Taylor, were indeed part of a Varsity Scout outing into the Goblin Valley State Park in Utah this past weekend. There were 2 other adults on the outing (I don’t know which were Boy Scout leaders, and which were just adults on the outing) and the Team of 8 Scouts, ages 14 and 15. The Scouts were “playing” among the hoodoos in this park, which are typified by the picture, right. Varsity Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America, intended for older boys.
The “leaders” noticed that one hoodoo was barely balanced, and about to break apart. They saw this as a safety issue, and decided to unbalance the hoodoo to end the hazard. They didn’t consult any park rangers, geologists, or any other responsible adult. Unfortunately.
Their gleeful video went viral, showing them destroying this rock formation that was originally formed millions of years ago.
Today, Mr. Hall and Mr. Taylor are receiving death threats because they destroyed this rock formation.
Their behavior, obviously, is reprehensible. My point is that in NO WAY do they represent the Boys Scouts of America. Here’s what I see:
- Adults not in uniform, which indicates they are not following Scouting principles.
- Adults not following required Boy Scout training to “leave no trace” in the wild.
- Boys not present at all.
- A video posting that was originally intended to aggrandize the adults … which were not supervising their boys when they made the video.
At this point, I don’t know if these 2 adults had followed any rules of the Boy Scouts of America on this outing. They may have been registered, trained leaders … or not. The evidence I do have says they were not following training that is required for registered leaders of every outing sanctioned by the BSA.
Were they really “leaders” or were they just adults tagging along on the outing? I don’t know. But I do regret their actions, and regret that their actions have reflected badly on the Boy Scouts of America that they truly do not represent.
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4:14pm PDT, 10/21/13
UPDATE: BSA ejected both adults from membership in the organization. Apparently, one of the men was a unit leader and the other was simply a registered adult. From NPR.com: Boy Scouts Eject Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock
Huffington Post: Boy Scout Leaders Topple Ancient Rock Formation In Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park
Salt Lake Tribune: ‘Goblin’ topplers say they are receiving death threats
BoingBoing.net: Boy Scout Leaders Destroy Ancient Formation In Utah’s Goblin Valley
Roy Rogers, appearing at an Eagle Court of Honor in Pennsylvania in 1950.
The Eagle Badge is the highest award in Scouting. It is the fulfillment of years of preparation, countless events and activities, and affirmation by adults that the Scout is worthy of this great honor. When a young man achieves something that important, they deserve special recognition.
That recognition is typically done at an Eagle Court of Honor (ECOH). These are often hosted by the Eagle’s family, though they are also hosted by the Scout’s troop – especially if multiple boys are receiving the award. There is no requirement that an Eagle have a special presentation at an ECOH. It is traditional, though.
Another tradition is that the ECOH is often personalized for the boy. That can strike fear into the hearts of parents, that are often not active Scouters and don’t know where to begin. So, start here!
There is no “official” ECOH. There are no elements that must be included, though many troops and even councils have traditions that most will want to be included. That’s fine … there is still a lot of room for personalization.
I had the pleasure of creating 2 ECOHs for my 2 sons (well, 3 sons, as you shall see). When I developed the scripts, here were my priorities:
- It’s about the boy, and the event must reflect his interests. He must approve the script.
- It should be a Scouting event with maximum attendance of family, Scouts and friends (in that order).
- It’s an entertainment event, so it should be something the audience enjoys.
I recently emcee’d an ECOH for the Kasman family. Marty Kasman is an Eagle Scout, as well as a recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope. He wrote the script for his son Daniel’s ECOH with these priorities:
- Inspire younger boys
- Demonstrate the good that Scouts do
There are many resources below that will guide you in preparing for the ceremony. Here are a few observations and tips that I encourage you to consider:
1. Schedule the event when it’s most convenient for the people you want to be there. If the ECOH is scheduled at the regular troop meeting time, you’ll probably get a lot of boys … but weeknights are difficult for family and friends to travel any distance to attend. Weekends are always best for them (and worst for the boys).
2. Don’t do the same old tired ceremony that the boys have seen many times. A little creativity goes a long way. Remember, it’s an entertainment event.
3. The boy(s) being honored should be as involved in the creation of the event as they want to be. Some boys will want to be very involved, though few are really capable of writing a complete script.
4. The ceremony should reflect the boy. In Christopher’s case, he was the Senior Patrol Leader (the boy leader of the troop) at the time, and had been helping do Scout campfires since he was in Cub Scouts. It was perfectly natural that his ECOH should be a campfire event, complete with singing, storytelling and S’Mores. Michael, on the other hand, teamed up with his buddy Lyle (my honorary 3rd son), and they wanted their event to be a party. Their ECOH had a “normal” ceremony … and was followed by a dance with actual girls in attendance (go to a few ECOHs and you’ll see how unusual that is!). I haven’t seen either of those ideas done as an ECOH since.
5. If you have non-Scouters attending that don’t know what an ECOH is, make sure you have a friendly emcee that will explain what’s going on as it happens.
6. Special appearances by treasured Scouters are very popular with the guys in khaki. At Christopher’s event, I was able to present a district award to a Scouter who had coordinated Christopher’s Eagle project for a local park (where Christopher now works!). This Scouter happened to be celebrating his 60th year as an Eagle Scout, and the ovation when he was introduced brought tears to his eyes. Make memories.
7. Have a good photographer on hand that is not an immediate family member. You know how much I love photography. I failed at capturing ECOH memories in photographs. Twice.
8. One traditional element that makes very little sense to me is gathering letters of congratulation from VIPs. If you request a congratulatory letter far in advance, you can generally get them from mayors, senators, celebrities – even Presidents. Here’s my question: does your son really care if he has a form letter from a congressman in a notebook on a shelf that he’ll never look at again? If so, great. If not … put your efforts into more productive pursuits.
9. Every ECOH these days seems to include a slide show of photos from the Eagle’s Scouting career. Those can be fun … for a few minutes. Three minutes, great. Five minutes … uncomfortable. Anything longer than that really doesn’t matter, because you will have lost most of your audience.
10. Use your resources … other adults from you son’s patrol and troop will be happy to help you pull this event off. Non-immediate family members, too. Don’t try and do it all yourself, because you will make yourself crazy. And why would you do that on a day made for celebration with your son?
A mixed quartet from the high school choir singing the Star Spangled Banner made for a stirring beginning to Michael & Lyle’s ECOH. That’s a young MrsMowry by Michael’s side, not so very long after they started dating.
Having the high school jazz band perform with the Eagle in uniform was a memorable part of Daniel’s ECOH.
A large Eagle badge is a stage prop often available for loan from your local council.
It has been my honor to emcee several ECOHs. I’ve never said no when asked by a young man, and I never will.
American flags make a great backdrop for the ceremony.
Getting a large number of boys there for the ceremony can be challenging with a weekend event.
Order of the Arrow dancers can be a nice addition … the local lodge has a special dance to perform when an officer becomes an Eagle.
The Eagle Scout should be the center of attention as much as possible … not the adults. It’s about the boy.
The Scoutmaster is generally one of the speakers and often presents the badge to the new Eagle.
Moms usually get to pin the new badge on their son’s well-used uniform.
Eagle Court of Honor’s Gathering Of Eagles
Presenting a National Eagle Scout Association neckerchief is a great addition to the ceremony.
Two new Eagles, and their parents. Again, I wish this was a better photo!
Refreshments are very popular with the Scouts in attendance!
Decorating the stage and the refreshment table helps to transform any public space into a Scouting place.
This is the only existing photo of the three Mowry Eagles. 2005.
Christopher Mowry’s ECOH Script
Eagle Court of Honor Handbook
MacScouter’s ECOH Handbook
EagleScout.org’s Court of Honor
Eagle Scout Mike Rowe’s Speech At The 2013 National Jamboree
I subscribe to the SHORPY historical photo archive RSS feed. They have a variety of 20th century photographs … Adam West on the Batman set, beach goers at Atlantic City in the 1920s … you never know what photo they’re going to share each day. The feed is free, and they sell high quality prints of the photographs in the archive.
Subscribe to the free feed here.
They delivered a photo of Red Fox James who was identified as a Blackfoot Indian … and it looked like he was wearing a Boy Scout pin. In a photo dated 1915! This was a story I had to learn. Here’s one picture … click on it to see it full size.
I can’t identify the medal on the ribbon; don’t know if that’s a BSA award or not. He is wearing what looks like a Tenderfoot pin, and has a “BSA” pin on his hat. I believe BSA was worn on the collar by leaders in this time period … uniform experts, please correct me if that’s wrong.
Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On Dec. 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed. (Library of Congress)
James rode “his famous Indian pony” throughout the country in 1914, and then again in 1915, to inspire support for a designated “American Indian Day.” He met with citizens all across the country, and frequently met with Scout troops during his journeys. He spoke to a gathering of 35,000 people in New York … he was trying to build a groundswell of opinion before mass media would have made his work much easier.
24 Governors signed James’ petition proposing a new holiday called “American Indian Day” be added to our calendar. James presented the petition to President Wilson in 1915. Unfortunately, there’s no record that Wilson ever acted upon the plea.
James had a colorful history, as one might expect from someone that became a celebrity in an era when Indians could not be US citizens. He did not live on a reservation; rather he was raised in white society. He went by many names, and at various times claimed to be graduated from the University of Oklahoma, went by the name Reverend St James, and raised over $15,000 for the American Red Cross in the early part of the 20th century – a very significant sum!
In January of 1915, James helped found the Indian Scouts of America, which was a part of the Boy Scouts. He was designated as “Acting Scout Master” according to the record of the event, which you can view here. He was a part of the founding of another organization, the Tipi Order of America, for non-Indians to learn about the Indian culture. That organization (you can find references that use both the Tipi and Teepee spelling) eventually transitioned into an adult fraternal organization.
1915, Red Fox James at the White House. Note the “Be Prepared” pennant. State, War & Navy Building at far left. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
Native American Heritage Month
The Star & Sentinel, 12/08/1914
Biographical Background For Red Fox Skiuhushu
Examiner.com – Origins
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians
The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements
The first Boy Scout Jamboree was held on the Capitol Mall. Here, a picture from SHORPY – Boy Scouts sightseeing on Capitol Transit buses, Washington, D.C. May 1937.
Some Pictures From A Brownie