The Washington Times-Herald

January 22, 2014

Scouting still matters

By Mike Leighty Scouting Matters
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Well 2014 is upon us and the Artic Vortex (whatever that is) is behind us. I spent some time over the cold — three dog night — holidays thinking about what 2014 will bring for the scouting movement and how best to continue to advocate this time tested program. This I did because my role in the local troop is changing. I will no longer be the Scoutmaster of Troop 481 but will remain active on the Troop Committee. Other qualified and caring adults have stepped forward to fill the gap. I wish them the best on their journey with the boys and will remain in the background as a mentor.

So where does that leave Scouting Matters? I hope it will remain entertaining and informing for its readers, however, some of the focus might have to change due to a lack of interaction with the boys. That’s where the nutty tales are born.

So I thought to kick off 2014 I would focus on some random thoughts breaking down the Scout Law. This month I have selected cheerfulness, because it is something we could all use more of, especially in times of cabin fever and continuing snow.

When Checochinican, Chief of the Delaware people, created a brotherhood that would memorialize the efforts of his son, Uncas, and the others that put service above themselves, he chose three words, to describe the direction of their brotherhood… Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service. In the scouting movement and our daily lives, these are as important today as they were to the Chief. Problem is, in our hectic lives, it isn’t often that we are able to sit back and clearly think about these pillars and what they mean in life.

Each is very different, yet interconnected at the same time. Brotherhood you feel when you’re with those important to you; cheerfulness is an attitude, a way we can look at and be a part of the world; service is something tangible, that we can do for another. Of all these things, only one appears in the Scout Law – the one we may think least about, but is still central to the scouting movement: Cheerfulness.

However, this is not just a scouting thing. Cheerfulness is a way to influence the world around ourselves. Let us step back for a moment and think about the role cheerfulness can play in our lives.

As Chief Checochinican presented it as one of the three tenets of his order, it did not diminish the role of the other two. But unlike brotherhood and service, which would be addressed much more frequently through activities, Cheerfulness rises above. Scouting troops organize themselves to do service to their communities, districts and councils. The Order of the Arrow (OA) sends crews each summer to Philmont and Northern Tier to give service to our National High Adventure Bases and to National Parks. There are service activities and events nationally and locally that stress goodwill and fellowship. However, cheerfulness is an attitude that pervades all those things. Service can be done without a smile, and true brothers will stand by you no matter the mood – but these things, all things, are so much more fulfilling when you do them cheerfully.

Not only does a positive attitude lift your spirits and the task at hand, but also it lifts up those around you. Think about how many times a simple smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, or a kind word has made you feel better about what you’re doing. The same can easily be done for others; it just takes the willingness to try – to go about the work of scouting and life, with the mindset that those who have the greatest power to motivate, to help others to a level they may not have imagined, do it with kind words, and genuine smiles. The amount of service possible and the strength of brotherhood are multiplied when cheerfulness is present as well.

Nevertheless, let us not misunderstand the power at our fingertips here. Cheerfulness does not mean that everyone is constantly in a good mood. What it signifies is the continual commitment to life, the constant vigilance with which cheerful people face the world and problems in a way that transcends simple optimism. It is not merely an external quality; it is the deep and abiding quality of working toward the good things in life, of maintaining a positive spirit “even in the midst of irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities,” of not letting surmountable barriers prevent us from our fullest potential of brotherhood and service. Yes, the three are deeply interconnected.

Therefore, with a new year upon us but the same old struggles ahead, approaching our daily tasks with a spirit of cheerfulness just might begin to make 2014 the best year ever.

If you would like to learn more about the scouting opportunities in your local area, give me call (812) 295-8417 and I will help you make contact with a local scouting unit.

Yours in Scouting,

Scoutmaster Mike