Table of Contents
It won't be long now before we'll be adding several new Scouts to this troop - the Webelos Scouts who will be graduating from Cub Scouting.
It goes without saying that I expect you Scouts to give them a warm welcome. How you treat them during their first couple of meetings and outings with us will determine whether they stay in the troop. If you ignore them, make fun of them, or haze them, some of them are going to drop out in a hurry.
Remember that they are young kids. Some of you will look like giants to them and if they are a little timid, they are going to be a bit afraid of you. So I would like all of you - and especially you older Scouts - to go out of your way to help the new kids. Perhaps each of you could be a buddy to one of the new Scouts to get them started right in Scouting.
If you can remember your days as a Webelos, you'll remember that Webelos means "We'll be loyal Scouts". I'm sure the graduating Webelos Scouts mean to be loyal to our troop. But loyalty is a two-way street. Our troop has to be loyal to them, too. - to make the promises of Scouting fun and adventure come true for them as well as for older Scouts.
Let's all remember that and give a warm welcome when our new Scouts join.
Who can tell me what day falls on June 14th? That's right it's Flag Day. Another question, why do we celebrate Flag Day on June 14th.
Because it was on that day in 1777 we got our first official US Flag. The Continental Congress which made the laws in those days, specified that the flag would have 13 stripes, alternating red and white, and 13 white stars on a blue field.
But that was all the description they gave. If you remember your flag history, the result was that a lot of different flags appeared during the Revolutionary War. You can see pictures of some of them in your handbook. It wasn't until 1912, 135 years later, that the flag became standardized.
It's not very important that you know a lot about our flags history. What is important though, is that you are aware that our flag was born very soon after we became an independent nation, and that millions of men have fought for the flag as our symbol of freedom.
That's why I hope that if your family owns a US Flag, you will fly it proudly on Flag Day this year. In that way, we can show our pride as Americans and our determination to live as free men.
Scouts, when we go to our camporee, and later when we are in summer camp, let's remember that our campsite is our home.
The living room is the area in front of your patrol site. Your patrol's cooking area is the kitchen and the patrol dining table is your dining room. The showers and latrine are your bathroom, and of course your tent is your bedroom.
You wouldn't think of throwing candy wrappers onto your bedroom floor at home, or of leaving garbage in your dining room. And even if you did, your parents would soon get on your case about it.
So whenever we're in camp, let's treat the campsite the way you treat your own home. Cleanliness and neatness are the marks of a good camper. In this troop, they are a standard rule.
As Scouts, we have pledged ourselves to obey the Outdoor Code and our Wilderness Pledge which call for us to "be clean in our outdoor manners". That certainly applies to our life at home in camp, as well as when we're on the trail. Let's make it a habit to keep a clean, neat home in camp.
Scouts, we've been learning how to find Polaris, the North Star, because we know it will help us find our way in the wilderness. For centuries man has known that the North Star is fixed in the heavens, and it has been used as a navigational aid by sailors ever since the first adventurers sailed away from the sight of land.
The North Star is still used that way by mariners and space explorers. So in learning how to find it, we are joining a very long line of adventurers.
There are some "North Stars" in our everyday lives, too. One of them is our conscience. If we listen to our conscience, we can be sure to steer our lives in the right direction.
And let's not forget our Scout Oath and Law, too. They are North Stars because they give us excellent guidance in how to behave and what we owe to God, country, our fellow human beings, and ourselves.
When you're lost at night, look for the North Star. The rest of the time, steer your life with those other North Stars - your conscience and the Scout Oath and Law.
There used to be a saying that if a man had great ambition, he was "reaching for the stars". The idea was that he was so eager to succeed he was willing to try the impossible, to reach for the stars.
That doesn't seem so impossible anymore. Men have walked on the moon, a feat that was only dreamed of not so many years ago. And by the way, did you know that the first astronauts who walked on the moon were Scouts? One of them, Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, is an Eagle Scout. That tells you something about the kind of man he is.
The scientists and astronauts in our space program brought the impossible dream of reaching for the stars much closer to reality. Men will never really walk on the stars. If they tried, they would get a terribly hot foot. But the stars do not seem so far away as they used to be.
Still the idea expressed in the phrase, "reaching for the stars," is still valid. It tells us that to enjoy life to the fullest, we must stretch our abilities to the limit. A Scout who does his best in everything he tries will become the kind of man who reaches for the stars.
I know that some of you read the sports pages and follow the big league pennant races. So probably you have heard of spring phenoms. Who can tell me what a spring phenom is?
He is a player who stars the season like a superstar. In April, May and June he's hitting about . 350, stealing a lot of bases, and never missing a ball in the field. Comes July and August and he can't do anything right. That's a spring phenom.
Maybe you've seen some spring phenoms in Scouting, too. They start up the advancement trail like a house afire, making Second Class and First Class as fast as the rules allow. Then when the going gets tougher for Star, Life and Eagle, they sort of fade away like spring phenoms.
Maybe it's the troop's fault. Maybe we just don't challenge them enough. If so, let's change that. I'm challenging all of you now to set your sights on the next rank and make up your mind you're going to make it by Christmas at the latest.
I imagine most of us have watched the Olympic Games on the television. It's really great watching the world's greatest athletes competing, isn't it?
Did you know that these athletes take an oath before they begin competition? Let me read the oath:
"We swear that we will take part in the Olympic Games in loyal competition, respecting the regulations that govern them and desirous in participating in them in the true spirit of sportsmanship for the honor of our country and for the glory of sport. "
Did you notice that the oath says nothing about winning? Of course the athletes want to win. After all, they have been training for four years or more to get ready for the games.
But the Olympic ideal is fair competition, not winning at all costs. Let's remember that ideal when we have our Aqua-Olympics and any other competitions.
Play to win. But remember that every athlete must learn to lose gracefully, without alibiing or complaining. That's the Olympic ideal in a nutshell. It's also the ideal in Scouting.
Scouts, it sure was a cinch to put this fishhook into the cloth, but you can see how hard it is to back it out. It's just like a bad habit - awfully easy to start, but awfully hard to stop. Some guys your age have started to smoke. It was easy to start - as easy as it was for me to put the fishhook into the cloth.
Across our land millions and millions of smokers have tried to stop smoking and have failed. They just couldn't get the hook out. If it's so hard to stop and if so many smokers want to quit, then why start - why get the hook in - in the first place? Some people think it's manly to smoke. Take a look around you. Look at who is smoking.
As you watch me tie these poles together, think about how this lashing might be compared to success in life. The wrapping turns hold the two poles closely together. But notice that they are not real tight, and with a little movement of the poles, the ropes loosen to allow slipping.
Now I add the frapping turns. I might have been satisfied without these turns, but notice what happens when I make the extra effort to add them. The frapping turns took up all the slack in the first turns and tightened the entire lashing the poles are now securely bound together in place. Repeated movement won't loosen the ties that bind them together.
These frapping turns that finished the job took a little extra effort, but what a difference they made in the job! In life, you will constantly be given chances to put forth a little extra effort. When you have the chance, don't let these opportunities pass. Remember the frapping turns.
If you put extra effort into things you undertake you will find success in life, real lasting friendships, and the inner knowledge that, come what may, you have done your best.
Everybody here likes to hear fish stories, the wilder the better. I expect we'll have a lot of them after our Fishing Camp-Out this month. We enjoy them because they're funny, and nobody is fooled into thinking they really happened.
But some people tell fish stories all the time. They're not usually funny stories. In fact, they're really lies. I call them minnows and whoppers.
Minnows are little lies that just shade the truth. For instance, maybe a guy is playing Skish and says he hit a target 55 feet away when it was really only 40 feet. No serious damage is done, except to the guy's own character, from a minnow like that.
The trouble is, if you get used to telling minnows, it becomes easier to tell whoppers - the big lies that may hurt somebody.
The best thing is to stick to the truth. Minnows have a way of growing into whoppers.
Scouts, which would you prefer to drink? The answer is pretty obvious, isn't it?
We can do our part to ensure that we always have plenty of good clean water. We can't do it all by ourselves because water may be polluted by erosion of the soil, sewage, industrial wastes, and other causes. Those types of pollution can only be cleaned up by action of our state and federal governments. I'm glad to say that our government conservation departments are working hard to conserve our water resources.
But every Scout, and every other citizen, has a responsibility, too. For one thing, we can make sure we don't pollute the water when we're out fishing, swimming, or camping along a water source. We have to make sure that we never throw litter or garbage into a stream or lake. We don't dig latrines near a stream or lake. We use soap instead of a detergent for dishwashing in camp. We do that, because nature can't break down a detergent as it does soap. So if our old soapy dishwater filters into the stream, it won't be a pollutant for very long.
Let's try to remember that on our Fishing Camp-Out. We can all help to make a contribution to clean water for ourselves and for future Americans.
Like any other profession, the computer field has a lot of special words, like pixel, RAM, ROM, crash, bits, bytes and nibbles. All these terms have precise meanings for computer specialists. My favorite is a made-up word. It's GIGO, spelt G-I-G-O. Does anyone know what it means? It stands for "Garbage In, Garbage Out. "
That's the computer experts way of saying that if you put the wrong information into a computer you will get a false result. The computer is a marvelous machine, but it can only work with the data you feed it. If that data is wrong then the computer's answer will be wrong, too.
"Garbage In, Garbage Out" is true of the human mind, too. Your mind is the most powerful computer ever created, but like this home computer we have here, it depends on what you put into it. For example, if you always hang around with guys that use terrible language, it will be imprinted in your brain's circuits, and it probably won't be long before garbage is coming out of your mouth, too. Same thing with actions. If your friends are always trying to rip things off or hurt other people in some way, you can almost be sure that you'll pick up their habits.
So when you're choosing friends, remember GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out.
This month we've had a chance to learn a little about computers. You've seen that they're good for a lot more than playing games, and maybe you've gotten a glimpse of what the future will be like in the Computer Age before you. By the time you are adults, your homes will probably be controlled by computers. Computers will control the temperature by turning on the furnace or air conditioner, wake you in the morning with soothing music, turn on the lawn sprinkler when sensors say the ground is dry, and control a robot that does the house cleaning. At work, no matter what your job is, there will be some kind of computer there to help you. Thousands of uses for computers that we can't even imagine now will be everyday stuff by the time you are men.
Sounds great, doesn't it? It will be. Computers are surely going to change the way we live. But they won't change what we are - human beings with a need to love and be loved, to be useful, and to get along with other human beings. That's why I think the Scout Law will be just as important 50 years from now as it is today. And that's why it's important now, while you are young, you begin to learn to live by the Scout Law. Let's remind ourselves of what that means by thinking about each point of the Law as we repeat it. (Lead Law)
The name of our program this month is "Sharing the Good Life. " At times you may think your life isn't all that great, especially when you have a lot of homework or your parents are bearing down on you.
But if you think about it for a moment, you'll realize that you do have a good life. You have three good meals a day, a home to go to, a chance to go to school, plenty of friends, and maybe a little spending money. You also have parents who love you, and that's a big blessing; I'm sure they do lots of Good Turns for you that you hardly ever think about.
This month we're going to do a Good Turn for two reasons. One is that our Scout Oath pledges us to help other people. The other is that we owe something to those around us - our parents, our community, and our troops chartered organization. You might call this Good Turn a Good Turnabout because in part it's a way to show our appreciation.
(Mention your troops planned Good Turn. )
I expect to see all of you out on our Good Turn day, not because you have to be but because you want to. As the old saying goes. "Turnabout is fair play," and with this Good Turn we'll be saying thanks to those who have helped us. (or our community or our nation, depending on who will benefit from the Good Turn)
Next week we'll have our big family night and court of honor, and I'm hoping that all your families will be her and have a great time. We only have a family activity once every three or four months, so it's a big deal for us when our parents, brothers and sisters join us at a court of honor or other event. But you know, every night should be family night for you.
Sound strange? Well I don't mean that the troop should meet every night and invite our families. What I do mean is that you should share some part of everyday with your families. Maybe just during the dinner hour or even 15 minutes over your homework. The point is that your family is the center of your life and will remain so until you're grown up and are leaving home, perhaps to start a new family.
If you have a chemistry set at home with a little vial of mercury in it, try this experiment. Put a glob of mercury on a piece of paper. Then take a knife and cut it up into three or four smaller globs. When you tilt the paper towards the center, the little globs will run together into a big glob again. A family is like that - two or three or four or more individuals who come together at times into one big whole. Make it a point to share some time with your family every day.
Nations, states communities and even families have laws. These are simple rules by which people must live in order to have harmony. If we didn't have rules or laws to govern ourselves, society would be impossible.
If a person breaks the law of the land, he is penalized in some way. He might be fined or sent to prison. If you break one of your family's laws or rules, you get penalized, too. Maybe your time to watch television is cut back, or maybe you get grounded.
Each of us needs his own set of laws to govern himself, too. These are your personal standards, the laws by which you live. In Scouting, we call those standards the Scout Law.
What's the penalty for breaking the Scout Law? Maybe you think the penalty would not be so bad, but let's consider it for a moment. If you're not trustworthy, people will never depend on you. If you're not friendly, you won't have many friends. If you're not obedient to your teachers, parents and others in authority, you can't expect that other people will obey you when you're in authority.
There's a good reason for every kind of law - our nation's, our town's, our family's and our own. They show how we can live in harmony with others and with ourselves. Let's think about that as we repeat the Scout Law. (Lead Law).
Next week we're going on our Winter Campout. For you new Scouts especially, it's going to be a test of what you've learned about camping and being comfortable outdoors.
Camping is easy and fun in the spring, summer and fall because while you may get wet occasionally, it's not much trouble to get dry and warm again. Camping in winter is fun, too, but it's not so easy to stay comfortable when the temperature is around the freezing mark and cold rain or snow is falling.
That's why it's so important that we're all prepared for winter camping. Tonight we've checked our camping equipment and each patrol has planned some nutritious meals for camp. We've also practiced some of the things we'll need to do to stay warm and dry and have fun in camp.
I suggest that each patrol go over their preparations once more before camp. Remember that Mother Nature is easy on us through most of the year, but in winter she can be unforgiving for Scouts who are not prepared.
Well Scouts, that was scary, wasn't it? How many of knew what was apparently happening to him? How many of you knew the proper first aid?
Jim was just acting, of course, to make a point. The point is you have to be mentally awake to be prepared to give first aid. It's one thing to practice slapping backs and doing the manual thrusts. It's another to recognize trouble when it comes and know what to do without panicking. Sure you may be a little scared the first time you have to make real rescue or give first aid to someone who really needs it. But that's the test of the first aider.
Be alert to recognize trouble. When it comes, stay cool. Then act. Your training in first aid in our troop probably will make you better prepared to help than anyone else on the scene.
So far this month, we've spent most of our time learning first aid. We've been trying to prepare ourselves to help other people when they're sick or injured.
But there's more to being prepared than knowing first aid. Real preparedness is many things - knowledge, confidence, and having the necessary equipment on hand when it's needed. We want to be ready for any emergency.
Next week we'll be testing ourselves on our readiness for emergency action. Our tests will not only require skill in first aid, but the ability to communicate well, to think through a problem, and to work together as a patrol.
Those are the kinds of skills that are useful in a disaster. If our town was hit by a tornado, we might be called out to help rescuers, but maybe we wouldn't be asked to do any first aid. We could be asked to serve as messengers, direct traffic , or cook and serve food.
That's why it's important that we prepare ourselves by learning more about our community and by practicing all sorts of Scout skills. And that's why it's important that you take full advantage of what Scouting has to offer by taking part in all our activities and doing your best to move up in rank. By the time you're a First Class scout, you'll be prepared for many kinds of service.
The Chinese have a saying, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. " There's a lesson for us in that saying.
I'm thinking of advancement. If you come to troop meetings without ever looking in your Official Boy Scout Handbook all week long and if you never ask how to pass a test or who to see about a merit badge, you'll never advance
very far in Scouting. In Scouting, and in life, the rewards don't come to those who sit back and wait for something to be handed to them on a silver platter.
I would like to see every one of you set the Eagle Scout badge as you goal in Scouting. As a step toward that goal, I hope that most of you will receive some award at our court of honor at the end of this month.
Whatever the goal you set for yourself, remember that only you can take that first step toward it. No one can do it for you. Once you've taken that first step the next step becomes easier. And the ones after that will be easier still because you're on the way along the Scouting trail.
We're calling our campout next week a Happy Birthday Campout because February is the anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. We're going to observe the birthday by showing the public in our community what good Scouting is all about.
So in some ways this is an extra special campout. We want to look and act like Scouts, which means that we'll ask you to wear your uniforms and be on your best behavior.
This doesn't mean you can't have fun. In fact I think we'll have a lot of fun, but we'll do it in ways that will bring credit to our troop and to Scouting.
We're also having a court of honor this month as part of our birthday celebration. During the court program, we will ask you and your parents to contribute to Scouting's World Friendship Fund. This is a special fund of the Boy Scouts of America to help Scouting associations in poor countries. The fund provides money for equipment, uniforms, and training for leaders. It's one of the ways that all of us can help promote the idea of Scouting as a world brotherhood.
I suggest that each of you consider giving a quarter to the fund. If that's too much, give what you can. Whatever you give, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped a brother Scout in another country.
One day a Scout named Bill was sighting with his compass, as I'm doing now. "Top of that hill is 045 degrees," said Bill, "I'm going to follow that bearing and end up on top. "
Bill started off checking his compass now and then to make sure he was heading right. Finally he set foot on top of the hill.
He had done three things - set his objective, figured out the direction he'd have to go to get there, and then moved full steam ahead.
Like all of you, Bill set a lot of courses towards many goals in his lifetime. Maybe he said to himself, "I'm going to be an engineer. " Then he would find out what it takes to become an engineer, and steer his course in that direction.
By the end of this month, all of you should be able to set a compass course. Probably all of you have set a course toward a career. There's another kind of course that's more important than your career. I'm talking about the character course. . Your character is being formed right now by what you do and don't do.
We have a "compass" for the character course, too. It's the Scout Oath and Law. Set your character course using the Oath and Law and you'll have the best kind of character.
You'll be the kind of man that others can trust, rely upon and admire. you'll go to the top of the character hill.
Scouts, our Law say's "A Scout is kind. A Scout understand that there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason. " Some of you may already be hunters. No doubt others will hunt as you get older. I have a question for you: Is a hunter following the Scout Law when he shoots wild creatures? (Get answers. )
It seems to me that the key words in this point of the Law are, "without reason," a Scout does not hurt or kill without reason. If you're going hunting for food, or to kill pests that are destroying property, or are hunting animals that are dangerous to man, you're not hunting without reason. So you are not violating the Scout Law.
But never aim at a target you don't intend to hit. And if your target is a living creature, be sure you're not killing it without reason. A Scout is kind, and he does not blast away just for fun. He shoots only for good reason.
Tonight we've spent a lot of time talking about the four food groups we need to be healthy. And we've looked up some of those recipes, using those four food groups. I hope you'll remember what you've learned when we go on our campout at the end of this month because I'm getting tired of hamburgers and hot-dogs.
But just as a balanced diet of foods is vital for your physical health, so is a balanced diet of activities vital for your mental and spiritual health. You all know by now, that if you ate nothing but potato chips, candy and soda, you wouldn't stay healthy very long. The same idea applies to your activities.
If you did nothing but play sports all the time, and neglected your schoolwork, your religious duties, your Scouting, and other activities with friends, you would be a pretty sad case before long. Oh, you might be a good ball player, but that's all. You would not make any progress mentally, spiritually or as a person who is a pleasure to be around.
Well, you might say, I love sports. Fine - play them - and play for all your worth. But remember that life has many satisfactions besides sports. Don't cut yourself from them by spending all your time in one activity.
Join a school club. Become active in your churches youth group. Come to every troop meeting and activity. Take full advantage of school; don't do just enough work to get by. And play sports.
You can do it all, and if you do I think you'll enjoy life even more than you do now.
Scouts, which of these pots would you rather have your food cooked in? Did I hear someone say "Neither one. " That's not a bad answer. We wouldn't have much confidence in a patrol cook who didn't have his pots shiny both inside and out. But if we had to make a choice, we would tell the cook to use the pot that's clean on the inside. The same applies to people.
Most people keep themselves clean on the outside. But how about the inside? Do we try to keep our minds and our language clean? I think that's more important than keeping the outside clean.
A Scout of course, should be clean inside and out. Water, soap, and a toothbrush takes care of the outside.
Only your determination will keep the inside clean. You can do it by following the Scout Law and the example of the people you respect - your parents, your teacher, your clergyman, or a good buddy who is trying to do the same thing.
Perhaps you've heard some people say that life is a hike between the cradle and the grave. For some, it's a long trip of many moons. For others it's a short trip that ends unexpectedly.
But all of us are equipped for life's trip with two knapsacks - one to be carried on the back the other to be carried on the chest.
The average hiker on the trail of life puts the faults of others into the knapsack on his chest so that he can always see them. His own faults he puts in the sack on his back so that he can't see them without special effort. He hikes through life constantly noticing the faults of other people but usually overlooking his own faults.
Scouts, this pack arrangement is bad because no one can have a successful life just finding fault with other people.
It's the man who can see his own faults and strives to correct them who enjoys the hike through life the most and finally enter the Happy Hunting Ground with thanksgiving.
Let's place the knapsack with our own faults upon our chests and put the bag with others' mistakes behind us. That way we'll have a happier hike through life.
These old boots have taken me over a lot of miles of trail. They're really comfortable. Whoever coined the expression, "as comfortable as and old shoe," must have been talking about these old boots.
But once, a long time ago, they were brand new and stiff as a board. Oh, I softened them up with some polish and saddle soap, but mostly I broke them in by using them.
One step at a time - that's the way good boots become good friends.
Good habits are like that, too. The first time you something hard that you know is right, you may feel as uncomfortable as a new boot. For instance, maybe a friend suggests that the two of you steal the answers to a quiz from the teacher's desk. Maybe that doesn't seem too bad -
bad you know it's wrong and perhaps you hesitate. But you refuse to do it, even though your friend call you chicken.
Nobody likes to be called chicken but you'll be secretly glad you refused. And I'm sure you'll find it easier the next time, because, like these boots, good habits become more comfortable each time they're used.
What's the fourth point of the Scout Law? That's right - "A Scout is friendly. "
Do you have as many friends as you'd like to have? Real friends, I mean? The kind of guys you're glad to see, and who are glad to see you?
Well maybe not. Lots of us would like to make more friends, but somehow it doesn't seem to happen. Well the secret of making friends is simple - being friendly. If you're a put down artist, or if you're always trying to rip off everybody or get the better of them in some way you're not going to have many friends. Nobody like to be put down or ripped off.
The Bible gives the key to making friends. It's called the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. " That's a great rule to remember in everything you do. And it's a perfect prescription for making friends.
Scouts, next week we're going to practice some of the skills of what is called minimum impact camping, when we're outdoors for our Park Service project. As you've ;earned this month, the idea of minimum impact camping is to leave no trace that we were ever there when we leave a campsite or hike a trail.
As part of our opening ceremony tonight we heard a reading of the Outdoor Code. You should be familiar with that because we recite it every once in a while and it's in your Scout handbook. Now we're going to read and think about a code that goes a step further. It's called the Wilderness Pledge.
The Wilderness Pledge says: "Through good camping and hiking practices, I pledge myself to preserve the beauty and splendor of America's wilderness, primitive, and backcountry areas. I commit myself to: 'Set a personal example in following the Outdoor Code; train those I lead in the skills and attitudes needed to protect and preserve wilderness for future generations; and assure that parties of which I am a part observe the hiking and camping standards that will
'leave no trace' of our passing. " That pledge is particularly important when you go into really wild areas of our beautiful country. You are promising that you will everything in your power to preserve its beauty for all who follow you.
Now I would like to join me as we borrow the first phrase of the Scout Oath to commit ourselves to the Wilderness Pledge, Please repeat after me: "On my honor I will do my best," (Scouts' repeat)
Everybody loves the Fourth of July. In many communities it's a time for parades, fireworks, ball games and picnics.
Real fun! But we ought not to forget what the Fourth of July really is - the birthday of our country - because that's when the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, over 200 years ago. Here's a trick question for you. How many stars were in the US flag on the first Fourth of July? You're probably going to say 13, because there were 13 colonies in America then, but that's wrong.
In fact, there weren't any stars in the flag. The colonists were using the Grand Union Flag, which used the British union symbol and 13 red and white stripes. You can see a picture of it in your Official Boy Scout Handbook.
Stars representing the states first appeared in the US flag 11 years later. Since then, starts have been added each time states have joined the union.
Today we honor this emblem of our country with its 50 stars and 13 stripes because it is the symbol of the nation's unity. We use flag ceremonies so often that it's easy to forget what the flag means and what the Fourth of July means in this country's history.
Now I'm going to ask our honor patrol to retire the colors. As they do it, let's think about the brave men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the love of country they passed on to us.
As Scouts and as school pupils, you spend a lot of time meeting standards. In school your work may be graded on a scale from A through F. In Scouting, you're asked to meet a set of standards before you can earn a skill award, merit badge or new rank.
These are all pretty clear cut standards. Either you can tie a bowline and perform rescue breathing, or you
can't. There's nothing in between. We have other standards in this troop that are harder to measure. I'm talking about our standards of behavior, dress and grooming, and Scout-like conduct.
Soon we're going to go to summer camp (or on tour), and these standards will be particularly important then. I'm not saying that they are not important all the time. But in summer camp (or on tour) you're not just John Smith, you're representing this troop and the whole Boy Scouts of America.
I hope you'll all remember that and do your best to be neat and clean, wear your uniform when it's appropriate, and, above all, to conduct yourselves as Scouts should.
That doesn't mean that you have to be a goody two-shoes. There's a time for horseplay, getting mussed up, and teasing. But in this troop, the standard is that when the horseplay and games are over, we look like Scouts, sound like Scouts, and conduct ourselves like by the Scout Law.
"What's the 10th point of the Scout Law? That's right, a Scout is brave. It means that a Scout is courageous enough to do what needs to be done when someone is in danger or when other guys laugh at him because he won't do something he knows is wrong.
"Everybody admires a brave person, even the guy who might laugh at him for not going along with a rip-off. But you know, there's sometimes a fine line between being brave and being foolhardy or stupid by taking chances that aren't necessary.
"Right now I'm thinking of the danger when we're in the water. Danger you say, what danger? I'm a champion swimmer.
Maybe so, but the water is dangerous all the same. All it would take is a bad cramp or a blow on the head when you're roughhousing in the water, and you could be an Olympic gold-winner for all the good it would do you. The cemeteries are full of strong swimmers who swam alone into deep water. That's why we have the Safe Swim Defense plan and particularly the buddy system when we are in the water. And we will insist on using the buddy system every time - no matter whether you can't swim a stroke or are the best swimmer in town. "Yes, it's great to be brave - and I hope you all are - but around water, we'll be cautious, too. "
I have here in my hand a key - a small item as you can see. Yet it will open the door to my car, and when properly placed and turned it will start the engine. With this little key I can visit faraway places, see wonderful sights, and do so many things that were impossible a generation ago. Is it any wonder that I always carry this key with me?
(Hold up a copy of The Official Boy Scout Handbook)
Your Boy Scout Handbook is a lot like my car key. It is a small item, yet it will open the door to Scouting and will speed you on your way to adventure. Sure, you probably could get by without using your handbook. I could get by without my car key, too, but I'd have to walk and it would be slow.
I certainly wouldn't get to see all those places I can reach by car.
Let's not leave our key behind as we enjoy Scouting.
Use your handbook regularly. Take it with you to meetings and on hikes and camping trips. Let your handbook open the door for you.
Scouts, for hiking you have to use a map scale to measure distance between points.
Tonight I'm thinking of another kind of measuring. I get the feeling that we don't realize how often we measure ourselves, day after day.
When you look at a heavy package and say, "That's too heavy for me to lift," what are you measuring? The size of the package - perhaps. But even more you're measuring yourself. You are not big enough to handle this package - or perhaps you just think you aren't.
It may be your homework. We say, "It's too much," when we really mean, "I'm not enthusiastic enough about that much work".
You see, in cases like that we're talking about ourselves, really, rather than the amount of our homework.
Our big idea - all over America - is "Be of service. " Some may say, "Oh, it's too much bother," but others will prove that they are big enough to measure up to this idea.
When we look at a job we take our own measure.
Have you noticed the strong bond between our flag and our Scout Oath? Let me show you. (Light the white center candle. ) One of the colors in our flag is white. It is the symbol of purity, of perfection. It is like the first point of our Scout Oath, our duty to God.
(Light the red candle. ) The color red in our flag denotes sacrifice and courage, the qualities of the founders of our country. . Red is the symbol of the second part of the Scout Oath, too. Our duty to other people requires courage to help anyone in trouble and the self-sacrifice of putting others first.
(Light the blue candle. ) Blue is the color of faith. It represents the faith of our founding fathers and reminds us of the third part of the Scout Oath. Our duty to ourselves requires us to be true blue, to be strong in character and principle, to live a life of faith in the importance of being good.
Scouts, rise! Let's have lights out, please. Now, Scout sign. Let us dedicate ourselves with our Scout Oath.
Scouts, you have learned to rely on your compass. You know that the needle points North and will guide you in the wilderness, but you have also seen what happens when a magnet is brought near the compass. The magnet is an outside influence on the character of the compass.
Each Scout has an aim in life. He wants to grow up to be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
The points of the Scout Law make up the magnetic field that directs the compass needle we follow.
Just like the magnet, there are influences trying to change our aim. There are temptations difficult to overcome - temptations to get by without working, to lie, to cheat, to follow the coaxing of friends, and the jeers or threats of enemies.
If you are going to grow up to be physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight, you must not succumb to the attraction of the evil magnets in your life, but must be steadfast in your purpose of living up to the ideals of Scouting.
Anybody here want to know how to catch a monkey? Well, I can tell you how they do it in India. They take a gourd, cut a small hole in it, and then put some rice inside. Then they tie the gourds down securely and wait for the monkey.
Monkeys are greedy and selfish. I guess you could say anybody who is greedy and selfish is a monkey. Anyway, monkeys are so greedy and selfish that they fall for the gourd trick every time.
The monkey sticks his paw into the gourd to get the rice. He grabs a handful - but then he can't get his hand out of the gourd. His fist won't go through the small hole.
And he's so greedy and selfish that he won't let go of the handful of rice. He just waits there with his greedy fist wrapped around the rice until the men come and take him.
Well, you've got the moral to this story: Don't be greedy and selfish or you may make a "monkey" of yourself.
You can always spot the greenhorn - the first year camper - as soon as "Taps" sounds on the first night in camp. He's the guy who just can't quiet down when the time comes for sleeping.
The experienced camper, comfortable and warm in his bed, knows that night is for sleeping - knows that he'll have more fun and be in better shape for all activities next day, if he gets a good night's sleep.
The greenhorn is the fellow who makes an uncomfortable bed with either poor insulation or inadequate covers and wakes up in the wee small hours, cold and uncomfortable and unable to get back to sleep. The greenhorn can't stand to be cold and uncomfortable alone, so he wakes up a few other soundly sleeping fellow Scouts to share his discomfort.
This, naturally, makes him an unpopular guy, not only with the fellows that he intentionally woke up, but with all the other campers who are roused by the noise created by the greenhorn out chopping wood to keep warm.
Don't be a camp greenhorn. Night is for sleeping. Be quiet after "Taps" until you get to sleep, and if you wake up early in the morning, don't give away your inexperience by getting up. Stay in bed until "Reveille. "
Two brothers once decided to leave their hometown and move to the city. Outside the city the first brother met an old man. "How are the people here?" asked the first brother.
"Well, how were the people in your hometown?" asked the old man in return.
"Aw, they were always grumpy and dissatisfied," answered the first brother. "There wasn't a single one among them worth bothering about. "
"And," the old man said, "you'll find that the people here are exactly the same!"
Later the other brother came along. "How are the people in this city?" he asked. "How were the people in your hometown?" the old man asked as before.
"Fine!" said the other brother. "Always cheerful, always kind and understanding!"
"You will find that the people her are exactly the same!" said the old man again, for he was a wise old man who knew that the attitude of the people you meet depends upon your own state of mind. If you are cheerful and frank and good-humored, you'll find others the same.
Scouts, the postage stamp you see on this envelope was given the job of making sure that this important piece of mail was delivered to me. The stamp is pretty small but, in spite of its size, it did the job.
In your patrols, each of you has the responsibility of "delivering the mail" in order that your patrol becomes a success. Like the postage stamp, it isn't your size that determined how well you do the job, rather, how well you stick to it.
We can't all be good at all things. Some are better at physical skill, some at mental tasks.
Remember the stamp. It did the job in spite of its size by sticking to the job. Make up your mind that you can do the same thing. Just determine to do your best - and stick to it until the job is done.