Scoutmaster Musings - Helpful

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Scoutmaster Musings

From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is helpful. A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward."

From a baby's first cry of hunger, he continually looks out for himself with a self-centered view of things. Human nature is to preserve oneself. A Scout is challenged to put others first, possibly at odds with his own needs. This being helpful is an outward demonstration of the inner honor being developed in a Scout. Doing a Daily Good Turn takes real effort to search for need and then a commitment to fulfill that need. A Scout that has not learned to care about other people and be willing to sacrifice some of his time can not live this part of the Scout Law. Guidance, explanation, continual modeling, and planned service opportunities in the troop give a Scout the learning moments to understand the importance of this law.

In order to be helpful, a Scout must be ready, able, and willing to help. Many things can be done to aid others, such as mowing a neighbor's yard, shoveling a sidewalk, or cleaning windows, by untrained boys. But, in order to help in many ways, a Scout needs special knowledge, skills, and abilities. To walk a dog, he needs to understand animals. To drive an elderly neighbor to the store, he needs a license. To prepare a meal for a family in grief, he needs cooking skills.

Many a Scout might use the excuse of "I don't know how" when faced with an opportunity to provide aid. He must be trained and confident so his attitude changes to "I'll give it a try". Without First Aid skills, how can he properly bandage a serious cut? Without Swimming and Lifesaving skills, how can he rescue a drowning swimmer? How can a Scout prevent panic? How can he direct traffic, extinguish fire, carry an unconscious person, or any of the dozens of tasks that may be required in an emergency? By participating in Scouting activities, that's how. Advancement through the ranks shows a Scout is participating and building skills. Merit badges give him reason to learn more skills. Leadership roles allow him to practice taking control in different situations.

Having skill and confidence is necessary for specific aid, but at least as important is the skill of being observant. In our society, making eye contact, especially in larger cities, can be dangerous. We are more and more becoming indrawn with minimal contact with strangers and that causes more and more people to become strangers. But, a Scout needs to be constantly observing what occurs around him so he is Ready and Prepared to act if needed. Knowing where fire exits, alarms, and phones are in school and other buildings he enters will make it easier for him to help in case of trouble. A person walking down the street having difficulty carrying groceries, or some kids worried to cross the busy street, or a person sitting on a park bench having problems breathing can only be recognized by an open-eyed, observant person. If a Scout walks down the street, head down, eyes ahead, like so many of the people around him, he misses life and misses opportunities to lend a hand.

To broaden the scope of being Helpful, a Scout is also helpful when he supports the leaders of his troop. It is a difficult position to be in when leading a group of peers. By obeying directions and supporting decisions, a Scout helps his Senior Patrol Leader or Patrol Leader. Being respectful of and caring for those leaders, a Scout strives to help them at all times.

I believe that Scouts today have a huge responsibility to emphasize being Helpful in their communities. Ask the average person what they envision when you say "Boy Scout" and they will still say something along the lines of a boy in uniform helping a little old lady. But, that is not what they actually see in their mind when they see a real, physical Scout at their door. They see someone wanting to sell them something - popcorn, wreaths, spaghetti dinner tickets, mulch, nuts, flower bulbs, or some such thing. That is not the image of Scouts that I want people to have.

A patrol of 8 scouts in our troop just spent a couple hours this weekend clearing snow from fire hydrants in the neighborhood. They knocked on the door of the house on whose property the hydrant sat and asked if it would be alright for them to clear the snow so the fire department could access it in case of an emergency. Of the 20 houses, every single one asked about giving a donation - every one! No one thought, "Oh, the scouts are being helpful again." They all figured the Scouts were trying to raise funds in a new way. Now, after the next snow, when they do it again, these people will hopefully not expect to give a donation - they will just think, "Oh, the scouts are being helpful again", and that's how it should be.

A Scout is Helpful.
Posted: 16:06 01-06-2008 287
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