[July 20, 2017] As I sit here at Boy Scout summer camp the temperature is hot and the humidity oppressive but I’m thoroughly enjoying myself … and getting an education. The experience does remind me why I’ve always had great respect for those adult leaders who happily volunteer their time to teach Boy Scouts the importance of character and leadership.
Teaching leadership skills is one of the main efforts of scouting leaders and significant resources are dedicated to it. It means showing scouts good examples of successful adults; what they do, as well as how and why leadership is important. This leadership blog, for example, is full of lessons in leadership yet I see with my own eyes the application of those skills being applied here at camp daily.
I am reminded during this scouting camp that the main effort of good scout leaders the development of a boy’s character; that is what they consciously strive to improve upon most. Without a moral and ethical foundation for a boy (or girl), the teaching of leadership skills falls away. In other words, scouting is teaching about being a good person more than anything else.
It is no surprise to those of us in the study of leadership that the mission of the Boy Scouts is to “… prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes …” While there is serious and enthusiastic emphasis on leadership skills it is the development of character that trumps any skill that a boy may learn.
They have recognized the most fundamental fact about being a good citizen is that a boy will have to make many lifetime decisions and to be both successful and good, that those decisions must be based upon ethical and moral principles. In the troop that I have spent the past few days with in southern New Jersey, the Scout Master and Assistant Scout Master have shown me this through direct application.
Stories are told around the camp fire, scout competitions are conducted, ceremonies are taught a certain way, and merit badges are earned. All of these have character development at their heart.
Skills are learned (and that is a good thing) but in the final test of whether they have succeeded or not is a measure of how a boy has become a moral and ethical person. Why do the adult leaders do this? The answer is simple … they care.
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