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

My blog includes my #BuildingBetterBrains project, 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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After being blasted with more than a foot of snow last night, some of it drifting up to three feet, the Monmouth College campus was something of a mess this morning.

While I trudged my way through hip-deep snow on the way to work, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a few Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity members, including house manager Dominic Savino (pictured above), were out shoveling the sidewalks on the north end of campus.

Classes were canceled today, as they were at many universities in our region. While society might assume that "the frat boys" would take the opportunity to sleep in, it was nice to see that they had taken their fraternal oaths of service seriously. No one asked them to help our Physical Plant staff, yet there they were, scooping up the heavy fluff.

Thanks, gentlemen.

Welcome to real life. Too bad this stuff never happens on TV shows featuring fraternity members.

Remarks at the Court of Honor of Boy Scouts of America Troop 355
December 2, 2010 at 6:30 PM
First United Methodist Church of Monmouth, Illinois

This past summer, forty five thousand Boy Scouts and Scouters gathered together in Virginia to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of Scouting in America. One of Troop 355’s very own, Life Scout Nick Mainz, was there, too, as part of the contingent from the Illowa Council. These boys (and a few girls from the Venturing program) were all part of something special, the seventeenth National Scout Jamboree.

The Jamboree is like “summer camp extreme!” As such, every fourth year it offers “scouts the opportunity to participate in physically and intellectually challenging activities, [and introduce] them to new and rewarding experiences” (Harris Interactive). It’s like the Olympics, except that at its opening ceremony, rather than a parade of great athletes, there is an assembly of our nation’s greatest youth and some of their best Scouting friends from around the world.

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: