Dr. Bill Atwood

Scouting provides many lifelong lessons

Back in 1909 an American publisher, W.D. Boyce, was visiting London and found himself lost in the foggy night. As he stood there befuddled a young man approached and asked if Boyce needed some assistance. Boyce stated his problem and the young man escorted Boyce to his destination.

Boyce offered the young man a tip for his help and the young man refused, telling Boyce he was a Boy Scout and that Scouts never accepted a tip for doing a “good turn.” Impressed, Boyce asked about the Boy Scout organization and later found himself meeting Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts of England. Baden-Powell was a war hero in England and had started the program after his service in the Boer War.

Boyce used his influence in the United States and brought the Scouting organization to the attention of other influential youth leaders and soon Teddy Roosevelt heard about it. Lo and behold on Feb. 8, 1910 the Congress of the United States granted the first charter of its kind to the Boy Scouts of America.

Since that day more than 110 million boys have been a member of the movement, all being taught many vital lessons.

We all hear about the camping and the hiking along with the water sports but within those activities and others many valuable life lessons are being taught.

A new scout learns about the Scout Oath and what those words really mean. Duty, honor, God, country, helping others, being prepared, doing one’s best, to keeping oneself fit both physically and mentally as well as living a moral life.

A Scout learns the 12 points of the Scout Law and is expected to adhere to each. Those points that a Scout promises to live by are being: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

I remember going to Scout camp and hearing the rules of the camp. In each of the different summer camps the rules were exactly the same - “Live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.” Easy to follow and easy to remember.

Scouts were taught to do a “good turn” each day. That was the minimum standard and not the upper limit. Scouts were taught discipline and Scouts were expected to advance through the ranks toward the ultimate rank of Eagle Scout. I’ve heard that only one in 10 boys in the USA joins Boy Scouting and of those that join, only two or three per hundred Scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout. It is a great honor and it is also a great obligation. For once a Scout attains that rank he is always an Eagle Scout.

Eagle Scouts are expected to give a lifetime of service to others. The emphasis is on lifetime. Eagle Scouts are few and far between in our national population but when you look in the business world, and in the leadership population, you find many Eagle Scouts. Whatever lessons that were taught to those young Scouts lasted into their adult years.

Scouting teaches the virtues of hard work and training. Those skills pay off later in life. Concepts taught in the Boy Scouts, as well as those taught in Girl Scouting, enable kids to grow into better adults. A certain level of confidence is created when a youngster realizes that they can work through a problem on their own and that planning helps ease the way.

They learn to busy themselves in positive pursuits and not getting involved with others who have negative intentions.

I learned a great deal in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Exploring. I met so many great men who served as leaders in Troop 139 of North Hollywood and those men reinforced the lessons my folks wanted me to learn. Scouting shaped my life to be sure. My Scoutmaster, Richard F. Campbell, was so very inspiring to all the boys in that troop. He was a Scoutmaster for 55 years.

Next Wednesday (Feb. 8) we can all join with the Boy Scouts of America and celebrate the wonderful work of that wonderful organization. You can always send a troop leader you know a check to help with finances.

In a few years my great nephew, Liam, will be old enough to join Cub Scouting and his Eagle Scout daddy has already invited me to tag along with the two of them through Liam’s Scouting adventure. I can’t wait.

Scouting builds boys into men. Happy Birthday Scouts.