In My Own Words
Thoughts on Education, Artistry, and Leadership

My (occasional) blog includes articles I've been invited to contribute and remarks from events at which I have been asked to speak, in addition to comments written specifically for my web audience.

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The 2010 National Scout Jamboree is drawing to a close. Tens of thousands of Scouts and Scouters representing every state and twenty nine nations have come together to become friends, share adventures, and affirm their shared sense of values while celebrating the centennial anniversary of Scouting in the United States. Now, as they depart, there is an opportunity to reflect.

“A Scout is reverent,” says the final point of the Scout Law.

Throughout its history, the Boy Scouts of America has always taught that reverence is an important principle, but the organization does not give strong guidance on how exactly to be reverent.

At the jamboree, worship services were conducted for over a dozen mainline spiritual and religious faiths. Quakers and Protestants, Catholics and Buddhists, they all shared something in common at this jamboree. They were joined together to celebrate their own faiths, to find meaning in their lives, and to seek guidance for themselves.

Soon, 45,000 Scouts and Scouters will make their way home from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. In days, Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia will shrink from a population of tens of thousands to a population of tens of tens.

Where there was once a fully functional city with food services, hospitals, a bus system, and a mall (of merit badges) there will be empty fields and a forest of trees.

If they do it right, no one will know they were there. The place will be clean as can be, keeping with the penultimate point of the Scout Law.

The Boy Scouts of America teaches the principles of Leave No Trace, which admonishes Scouts to always leave their campsites and hiking trails better than they found them. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints,” is often used to describe the practice. The specific principles are:

For months, tens of thousands of young men in all fifty states and twenty-nine countries have been preparing to attend the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating one hundred years, and the jamboree has been its pinnacle event.

None of this would be happening were it not for a simple act of kindness. One young Scout, in 1907, helped one lost business man lost in the fog of London. William D. Boyce, the lost American traveler, was so impressed that he learned about the Scout’s organization and brought it to America.

Without that one act of kindness, the Boy Scouts of America would never have been founded, and likely neither would the Girl Scouts of the United States. Millions of young men and women would have missed the opportunities for leadership development, life skills training, and lessons in how to work with others.

“I’m going to tell you something I don’t tell very many people,” said Eagle Scout Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s popular program, Dirty Jobs. “My dad took—no, he kidnapped me—when I went to my first Scout meeting.”

Rowe was addressing a crowd of over 70,000 Scouts and guests tonight at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The event celebrates Scouting’s one hundredth anniversary in America.

He described a game that he was pulled into playing as being “designed by an idiot.” It involved swinging a bag full of wet rags around in a circle on a 12-foot rope. The Scouts standing in the circle try to jump as the bag passes. “And if you miss, the bag slams into your ankles and knocks you down,” Rowe said.

“So I was in Boy Scouts for two minutes and I had a bloody nose,” he said.