Program Chair's Corner: Something to be thankful for

Posted on Nov 16 2012 - 12:31am


Hey Button Gwinnett Scouters! I hope all of you are doing well. I'm on a flight home from suburban Washington DC, where I had some business meetings the past couple of days. It's been an extremely busy seven days for me.

Monday night consisted of a Troop Cook Off Competition, reminiscent of an Iron Chef episode on the Food Network! The patrols were given allspice as a secret ingredient by the SPL and their mission was to use the ingredient in a dish that would be tasted and judged by the scoutmasters.

The creativity that a bunch of boys can come up never ceases to amaze me! The winning patrol came up with a toasted bread square, fried egg, lettuce, chopped tomato, and chopped bacon infused with allspice and a little dill pickle as garnish. It tasted awesome! And it was the favorite amongst the scoutmasters. It won on presentation and taste and came from our new scout patrol. I was so proud of all the patrols, who with very little adult involvement, came up with recipes on their own and prepared them to perfection… just goes to show what can happen when you get the adults out of the way and let the boys lead!

Last weekend, two fellow Assistant Scoutmasters from Troop 846 and I took 10 young and inexperienced Scouts on a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It was a fantastic trip and I got to watch 10 amazing boys grow right in front of me as they carried their packs, set up their camp site, filter their own water, and most importantly cook their own food! The bonds that are created when a group of young leaders work together with a common objective is amazing.

It also left me with a lumpy throat as I watched my son build his confidence as a young Tenderfoot. He commented to me at one point, "Dad, be patient with me… I'm a rookie at this stuff." I smiled with a huge grin and said back to him, "you're doing awesome son! Just keep doing what you're doing."

I got to watch another boy, a Second Class Scout, who has, at times not enjoyed his Scouting experience just totally buy-in to the trip and come out of the weekend a stronger leader and passionate about his experience, already looking forward to the next trip.

As I sit here in my seat on the plane, reflecting on the past week and pondering the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, There are many things in my life I have to be thankful for. Some of those things reside in Scouting:

  • As a father, I'm thankful that I have a program like Scouting that allows me to spend priceless time with my son. The memories that he and I are making now, will last a lifetime, and I'm so thankful to have these times with him - watching him grow into a young man with purposeful values. I'm also thankful that because of the Venturing program, I'll get to do the same thing with my six year-old daughter when she becomes old enough!
  • As a leader, I'm thankful that I get the opportunity to be a mentor and role-model to other boys and that my son has other adults that can mentor him. Many of our boys come from single parent homes and having adult role models outside of their immediate family has such an impact. My father passed away when I was 15, and although we didn't have Scouting in the town where I lived, there were  adult men from my church who took ownership of my development and served as mentors to me. Having a program like Scouting where I can repay the favor means the world to me.
  • As a follower and student of the Scouting movement, I'm thankful for a man like Baden-Powell. Isn't it awesome that a man, like BP, a decorated British General, would devote valuable years of his life to envision  and create an organization that has shaped the lives of millions of youth worldwide? I find it amazing that over 100 years later, the core tenants he articulated are just as relevant today as they were in the early 1900s.

A close friend of mine provided me with a laminated card that I hang from my backpack. On it has a passage that I think encapsulates why I'm thankful for Scouting:

"In the end, I think I will do well - as will all parents of boys - if I adopt the goal set out in the first Scoutmaster Handbook; '… we have placed the boy in the midst, and have tried to keep his interest in the forefront; for we realize that our purpose in this Boy Scout Movement is not to exploit methods, nor to glorify movements… but to lead boys into useful lives.' That's something to which even grown men can aspire."

I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones.

As always, If you have questions or you'd like to provide feedback, I can be reached at program@gwinnettbsa.org. I'd love to hear from you!

Yours in Scouting,

Terry Walls - Program Chair