Scoutmaster Musings - Thrifty


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Scoutmaster Musings

Thrifty
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is thrifty. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property."

Of the twelve points in the Scout Law, I imagine that Thrifty is the one most difficult to quantify. A Scout in an affluent community may consider himself thrifty by saving his $25 allowance for two weeks to buy a video game while a few Scouts in a less wealthy neighborhood might pool the change they collected from turning in soda bottles to buy a bag of candy. Being rich or poor does not define the ability to be thrifty or not. A rich person can be thrifty without being a Scrooge and a poor person can be thrifty while still sharing what he has.

The boy with parents dishing out money for any and all scouting events he cares to participate in is a boy with no opportunity to understand thrift and the value of things. He begins to feel entitled to whatever he desires with no regard towards the necessity of the thing. Being required to do without is the best way to build a sense of thrift and value. Desiring something enough to be willing to work for it, and forego other things for it, gives that thing value and provides an understanding of thrift.

Someone with very little learns from early on that it takes effort, perseverance, and work to acquire those things that are desired. When you can't have everything, you prioritize and acquire first what you need the most, then work down the list acquiring the more important things. This is often food, heat, rent or mortgage, transportation to work, and clothing. When enough money is saved, then less important expenditures can be made occasionally.

A Scout should be given as many opportunities as possible to practice being thrifty within scouting. He can earn his camping gear by doing extra work around home or at a real job. He should have a budget for purchasing food for his patrol on campouts so he stretches the money as much as he can. Scouts should also work together to raise funds for patrol or troop gear, such as tents, cooking gear, stoves, and the like. Paying his way is an important part of a Scout's overall scouting experience. If a Scout joins a patrol and is given everything he needs, he sees no value in it and has no ownership of it.

Thriftiness is most often discussed in terms of money since we exchange work for money and money for those things we need and want. But, a Scout should be thrifty in all areas of life. Turning off unused lights, closing doors and window shades, recycling, and even planning driving routes around town are all ways to be thrifty with energy. Using things he has until they wear out or he outgrows them rather than wanting to be part of every fad that comes along is being thrifty with what he already has. Promoting conservation and natural environment restoration is being thrifty with nature. Using his time to accomplish goals rather than wasting it on idleness is being thrifty with his time on Earth.

The use and care of scout gear is a great example of being thrifty. A new tent assigned to a Scout should last seven years until he becomes 18 years old. By taking care of the tent, the Scout ensures his own needs are met, is conserving resources, and is helping the troop save for the future when new tents will some day be needed. Caring for gear also reduces the amount of repair needed. But, by repairing instead of replacing when feasible, the Scout further demonstrates his thriftiness and shows he can make do.

As Scouts and citizens in the most wasteful country in the world, we have a real challenge to raise our level of thrift. We are much like the child that is given everything and comes to expect everything. We consume more, conserve less, and expect better than we have. We know we should change, but few of us do.

Even worse, we have come to accept debt as a way of life in this country. A thrifty Scout should expect nothing and work for everything he desires. He should save the money for something before buying it, rather than buying on credit and sinking into debt. There are some large purchases for which going into debt makes sense, such as a home, but the debt needs to be managed with a reasonable payment plan that can actually be accomplished. And, the Scout should, on his honor, make the repaying of the debt of highest priority.

Whether relatively rich or poor, a Scout that is thrifty will be ready and able to help others. He may share food, money, or labor with others in need since he has kept his own needs met.

A Scout is thrifty.
Posted: 23:26 01-22-2008 299
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