Many organizations weaken with time and lose the core values upon which they were founded. While the Boy Scouts of America celebrate their 100th birthday, many people might be tempted to think that this is the case with scouting. Luckily, reality is singing a different tune. Just look around the community for the contributions of the 37 Cub Scout Packs, 48 Boy Scout Troops and 6 Venturing Crews throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties.
As it has always been, scouting endures as a program based on important values. Scout leaders from Michigan have actually started a movement called A Century of Values. The leaders travel across the country to thank all the people responsible for keeping the Boy Scouts of America prominent on all local levels as well as teaching contemporary scouts what the organization’s law and oath mean.
"I think the basics of scouting, the scout law, scout oath and motto, are as important to a boy as any prayer that they can ever say," revealed Jack Coughlin at the recent National Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill Virginia. Coughlin has been involved in scouting for 74 years. He joined Troop 5 of Larchmont in 1936. Coughlin was 12 years old when his father brought him to a Troop 5 meeting.
"I instantly recognized five boys in the troop, and I hadn’t even wanted to join this troop," Coughlin remembers. Scouting involves more boys in a community. Although a child might be apprehensive about joining a particular troop, there are bound to be kids he knows in the group.
At the National Jamboree, more than 40,000 Boy Scouts from across the United States and many countries including far away Australia and Hong Kong, joined together for nine days to celebrate the 100th year of scouting in America. There were about 100 activities the Boy Scouts could participate in, such as archery, kayaking, metalworking, scuba diving and sailing, just to name a few. There were exhibits honoring the history of scouting and opportunities to focus on community and global citizenship.
Scouting is about much more than wearing uniforms, marching in parades and gathering together at jamborees in celebration. Over the past century, scouts across the United States, like the troops around Westchester County, have assisted their communities while actively participating in community service projects and responding to emergency situations. Community service and emergency preparedness require scouts to be able to lead others and also to as part of a team. It is a wonderful training ground for boys to develop as community members family members and team members.
In the Boy Scouts of America, individuals are taught to respect and learn from their elders, without blindly following. They are challenged to think critically and analytically in a supportive environment of good fellowship. Boy Scouts gain an appreciation of the benefits of family and community and an understanding of the importance of contributing to the common good. Good citizens of a country should be aware of, respect and preserve the world around them. Likewise, Boy Scouts develop an appreciation of nature, a sense of commitment, involvement in the local community and an awareness of the global events that shape the world.
The core values and lessons of scouting are as relevant today as they were when scouting first came to the shores of America a century ago. Happy 100th birthday to the Boy Scouts of America.