When you hold a Scoutmaster Conference with a boy and ask the rank advancement question about how he has “Show[n] scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life”, how do your scouts respond? I generally get a blank stare followed by a lot of typical Sunday school answers. They tell me what they think I want to hear or give some lame answer that shows me they know what the Oath and Law SAYS but haven’t given much thought about what it really MEANS. At that point, we begin a conversation around this set of questions:
Why do we say the Scout Oath and Law so often at meetings and other similar activities?
Have you ever read either of these scouting principles slowly, line-by-line, thinking about them in the context of you?
What do we learn about in church week after week?
How does any of this apply to you in your life?
Do you think people are watching and taking note of who you are becoming as a young man?
What do you do every day to walk the walk and talk the talk?
Our discussion will end on the point that if you act one way at church on Sunday and then another way at school throughout the week, what have you learned? What kind of example does that serve? How do others see your integrity? Where is the good turn done daily? I understand this isn’t easy at times with all the pressure that goes on with friends, but we’re working to be long-standing leaders not faint-hearted followers…right? So be strong about who you are, don’t compromise your integrity and make a difference among those you hang around with!
I believe the need for our boys to understand these values has never been more important. With that in mind, we’ve increased the time we spend on this subject during Troop Leadership Training (TLT). I added my own slides to module 2 which fits perfect with the focus on what a leader must BE. The line-by-line breakdown you’ll find in the Boy Scout Handbook (pages 22-25) does an excellent job explaining exactly how a boy can live the Scout Oath and Law in his everyday life (which is also an excellent section of TLT to have your Senior Patrol Leader teach!).
As a side note, you might also be surprised (as I was) to discover that TLT has been replaced by a newer training called Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST). This revision occurred sometime in 2010 yet I only noticed it last month as we were digging into our JTE goals for 2012. So it appears that I’ll have to look into how that coursework is laid out, eventually retire my modified verion of TLT and share some thoughts about ILST in a future post…