Scoutmaster Musings - Obedient


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Scoutmaster Musings

Obedient
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is obedient. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them."

Obedience and discipline go hand in hand. An obedient Scout is not someone that blindly does what he is told, but he does have the discipline to carry out tasks assigned to him, even if he does not agree with the assignment. Once he has completed his duty, doing his very best, he can then discuss the fairness or appropriateness of the assignment with his leader. Obedience is necessary for a group, such as a patrol, to be effective. The leader should have a picture in his mind of what he wants accomplished and how each task fulfilled will bring that picture together. A scout in the patrol needs to do his duty to support the overall goal, whether he completely understands that goal or not.

Many Scouts are at an age where they are experimenting with independence and that can make being obedient more of a challenge for them. They see being obedient as being weak and subordinate. When directed to do something, they may expend more energy arguing about the task than it would take to just do it. For example, "Why me?", "Why not have Charlie do it?", "Why do you need that done?", "Right now?", and so on. Boys would rather be independent, even if they are not yet mature enough, and they often interpret independent as meaning free of commitment or responsibility which is an immature interpretation. An independent person still has responsibilities, but he is able to take care of himself as well as make correct choices to honor his commitments.

Actually, an independent person has self-discipline enough to be obedient to his conscience. He obeys his moral and ethical honor and does what he knows is right, not because it is the easiest or most beneficial thing to do, but because his honor insists it be done. A Scout with a strong character, able to put the needs of others before his own and obey his conscience, can usually obey directions from leaders well because of his self-discipline.

As Scouts get used to the troop structure, they notice that the Senior Patrol Leader always seems to be handing out the orders and the Patrol Leaders in turn pass the orders down to the Scouts. They want to be on the top where they can give out orders instead of always taking them and that is often a motivation to hold a position. They don't yet realize that there is even more responsibility higher up the ladder of command and the leader needs to rely on those under him to accomplish a larger goal. Teamwork relies heavily on obedience, discipline, and trust.

The Scout leader also has the responsibility to arrange for the training of those on his team so they are able to perform assigned tasks. Within a patrol, scouts can teach each other, passing on knowledge to less experienced ones. In this way, a leader will also pass on the understanding of what is expected of the leader so all understand that he requires their help and is actually as dependent on them for support as they are on him for direction. The good leader also spends some time discussing the performance of the team in an effort to improve. The entire team should have input about how they might do better next time. This gives ownership of the success and failure of the patrol to the patrol rather than the patrol leader. Everyone has more of an interest in succeeding and obeying directions becomes easier.

In a Scout's family, obedience is a vital trait to develop. In many families, blind obedience is expected of children. Children are told to clean their room, perform household chores, stop fighting, use nice manners, comb their hair, wash their hands, and on and on. A child, learning life skills, needs these directions and reminders and is often too young to understand their significance. A boy of Scout age typically knows how to perform these dozens of daily activities and understands the need to perform them. He should be doing them out of habit without continual direction, which takes responsibility away from him and keeps him a slave of his parents' control. A Scout should be doing these kinds of tasks, as well as following other family rules, not only when he is told to but at all times to make life more pleasant at home.

As a Scout matures, the family rules should change along with his maturity. Some parents may hold on to control longer than is appropriate. In those cases, a Scout should work to change the rules rather than go against them. Examples such as curfew time, allowance amounts, when to do homework, driving privileges, or videogame limits are areas in which boys may request more freedom before parents are ready. Open discussions about the rules, expectations, and requested changes should demonstrate the Scout's increasing maturity, independence, and desire to be obedient which, in turn, would hopefully influence the parents' ability to allow more freedom.

By developing obedience in the family and in Scouting, the Scout is better able to handle the similar requirements of the workplace where orders are routinely given and expected to be completed. In all circumstances, whether family, school, work, or social, the obedient Scout must make sure that obeying a direction is not against his honor. If a boss tells him to cheat a client or a friend tells him to steal, he must compare the order to what he knows is right and wrong and first obey that inner compass.

A Scout is obedient.
Posted: 10:07 01-17-2008 296
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