Table of Contents
What is our flag? You might say it's a piece of cloth. Would that be right? Well, it's true that these pieces of cloth could make a US flag, but then we would have more than a piece of cloth, wouldn't we? What is our flag then? It's a symbol of our country, of the principle for which we stand. It's a guarantee of protection and security for us. And isn't it a thrill to see our flag flying at the top of a tall staff?
The blue in our flag is a symbol of faith and loyalty - the faith and loyalty of our country's founders. The red in our flag denotes sacrifice, the sacrifices made to establish our nation. The white of her stars and alternate stripes stands for purity of heart and mind. Yes the colors stand for bravery, loyalty and purity.
Is there anything in these pieces of cloth by themselves that demands our respect? No. The y could be made into an apron just as easily as a flag. We could mop the floor with them or wipe our shoes with them. But the flag these pieces of cloth could make represents our great nation and everything the United States stands for. That's why, Scouts, we give our flag the respect and loyalty that we owe the United States of America.
In a competitive rally we have winners and losers in the various events, yet it is possible for everyone to win something. A losing patrol can win in spirit and morale, if the fellows work as a team and gain a better understanding of one another. It can win respect in the eyes of all Scouts, if patrol members show good sportsmanship. A patrol that loses in competition can still win, if in the process of losing the Scouts in the patrol gain in the knowledge of Scouting skills so they will be more proficient in future meets of this type.
Sure it's nice to win, but with the right attitude, losers frequently benefit more in the long run than do the winners. Nobody enters a competitive rally planning to lose, but if this should be your lot, make the best of it - take advantage of the things learned in losing and determine to build your patrol teamwork and skill so that the next time someone else will be the loser.
Scouts, you're all familiar with a common match, and know that with it you can start a fire - a fire that will keep you warm, cook your food, and add cheer after dark. After using a match to light your fire, you break it to be sure it is out, and discard it.
The Scout Law is somewhat like this match. We use it to light the good things inside us, but unlike the match we
threw away, we should keep the Scout Law to use over and over - in our Scout activities, in our daily living at home,
in school, in our work and play, and in the future as we grow into manhood. We don't discard the Scout Law after the troop meeting or even in later years when we are no longer Boy Scouts. The things it represents are as true and meaningful to adults as they are to Scouts.
If you follow the Scout Law everyday, the points of the Law will become so much a part of your life that when you grow up and enter the world of adults, you will be able to stand erect and look everyone squarely in the face and say, "I am a man. "
Let's all stand, give the Scout sign, and repeat the Scout Law.
Scouts, what would you think of a policeman in full uniform except for trousers which were of bright plaid material? How about a hospital intern wearing a sport coat over is white uniform while on duty? Or what would you think of a train conductor wearing a fireman's cap or, even more absurd, an airline pilot wearing the silks of a jockey as he boarded the plane?
They'd all be "out of uniform," wouldn't they? With some of the outfits mentioned, you would be sure what they really were.
Scouts, we have a uniform, too. We have a full uniform - not just a neckerchief or just a shirt, but like the people I just mentioned, we have a full uniform. When we don't wear the full uniform, we are just as "out of uniform" as the policeman with the plaid pants.
The Flag Code says that when we are "in uniform" we salute the flag with the Scout salute, but when "out of uniform" we salute by holding our right hand over our heart.
How do you think a Scout should salute the flag if he's wearing blue jeans or chinos or some other non-official dress along with part of the uniform? He's not "in uniform," is he?
Scouts, here I have a handful of sand, and in my other hand I have a piece of topsoil, just sod. Do you see much difference in them?
Yes you're right. There's the difference between poverty and wealth here - the difference between starvation and prosperity for all people. This sand represents a civilization that once flourished and is now dead because of
misuse of resources. People took from the soil and put nothing back.
But this sod is different because it contains the miracle power of growth. This sod is topsoil enriched through many years.
Our very existence depends on the narrow margin of about 6" of topsoil that covers much of our planet. Without it, we cannot survive.
If all the topsoil of the world eroded, what would people live on? Food can't be raised on sand or rock.
What things can we do, as Scouts and as citizens, to help people better understand the importance of this (gesturing with the sod) and not just let our land drift to this (sand) - with the topsoil allowed to waste away?
Scouts, you'll notice the matches in front of you stand easily when they're all bound together with the rubber band.
But, look at what happens when I try to stand them after removing the band.
(Take the rubber band off and attempt to stand them up. Of course they fall in all directions.)
Our troop is like a bunch of matches. As long as we work together as a team, bound together by the ties of Scouting, we will stand together as a strong troop. But if we remove those ideas of Scouting, and each man thinks only of himself, we'll be like that bunch of matches when the rubber band was taken off.
As we all live up to the ideals of the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan, we will be wrapping ourselves with the band that will strengthen our troop and make sure that it stands for the things that make Scouting great.
All of you recognize this and know that it will buy certain things. It can purchase a candy bar, a stamp, or a little time on a parking meter. Add more money and you can do bigger things.
However, there are many things that money, no matter how much you have, cannot buy. Some of these include the love of your family, freedom friendships, and the great out-of-doors.
You can't place a value on Scouting, either. We couldn't pay salaries high enough to get all the help we have. Nor could we place a value on the memorable experiences, the camping trips, the hikes and the fun of campfires.
People can't pay us for the Good Turns we do, and isn't that a good thing? Such payment would take away the good feeling that we have when we do things for others.
Remember, this money can buy many things, but not the things that really count in human happiness and dignity.
Scouts, since 1910 these three things have been significant in the Boy Scouts of America.
The badge is the symbol of Scouting throughout the United States. Similar badges are used by Scouts all over the world. It is the sign of a universal brotherhood of men and boys of the free world.
There are many books that are important to good Scouts; the handbooks to help us with Scoutcraft skills; the merit badge pamphlets with information about special skills; and, most important of all, the Bible to guide our daily lives.
A candle is a symbol of the light of Scouting that penetrates the darkness of hate, prejudice, war, strife, and distrust. It is a light that must be kept burning in the heart of every Scout, now, and as he grows into manhood.
Scouts, this pencil won't write. It doesn't leave a mark on this piece of paper. But if we give it a Good Turn (at this point turn the pencil so the lead comes out), it now becomes useful and will leave a mark on a sheet of paper.
The Good Turn we gave the pencil made it useful. The Good Turns we do in our daily lives are the things that make us useful. The Good Turn enables us to be useful in our home, school, community and nation. The Good Turn raises us above the ordinary. It makes our lives worthwhile.
Now, Scouts, don't answer this question out loud, but how long has it been since you said, "Thank you, Dad. " I'm afraid that too often we take our fathers for granted.
I suppose it might be awkward to try to say - in words - "Thanks Dad, I appreciate everything you do for me - and with me. " And of course, if we merely said those words and stopped there, they'd be a pretty empty kind of thanks, wouldn't they? I wonder just how a fellow can go about saying thank you to his father and mother. The best way that we can show our appreciation is by making our parents proud of us, happy over the kind of fellows we are and are trying to be.
No matter what else we do as a gesture to show appreciation on Father's Day, certainly we want to do our very best to be the kind of fellows that are dads can be proud of all through the year.
On a hike or in camp we reveal our true selves most. Did you ever know a Scout who thought people were always picking on him?
I recall a boy who pitched his tent carelessly and it blew down on him in the middle of the night. He tried hard to blame it on someone else, but finally had to admit to himself, "Well, I guess it was my own fault. "
Another time he burned a steak. "It was the fire's fault," he insisted, until the other fellows laughed at him and showed him how the same bed of coals could help turn out a well-cooked steak.
Things usually happen to us because we set the stage for them. Actually, people are too busy to spend their time picking on us.
When something goes wrong, the first place to look for the cause is within ourselves.
If you looked at this roll of film before development, you cannot tell what kind of picture it will make. Film looks exactly the same after snapping the shutter as it did before.
But after development, the image appears on the film and you can see what the picture will be when it is printed.
As I look at you Scouts, I wonder how your exposure has been. You all look the same on the surface, yet I know there are differences within each of you. Like the film, you have been exposed to good and bad things that will make an impression when you develop.
Unlike the film, you have brains. You know what is inside yourself and can do something to make certain your development is good.
Follow the ideals of Scouting - the Slogan, Motto, Scout Oath and Law. If you live according to those high standards, you can be sure your development will be good as you grow older, and you will be able to enter manhood fully prepared to be a good citizen of our great nation.
If someone told you that you would be dropped from a plane in the heart of the Canadian wilderness and could pick one tool, implement or instrument to take with you, what would you choose? Would it be a rifle, pistol or similar weapon? How about a tent or sleeping bag? Or would a box of matches be more useful?
An experienced woodsman was asked this question and without hesitation he said, "My Ax. " He said that with his ax he could defend himself, build shelter, cut materials to make snares and fishing equipment to make food. The steel in his ax would strike a spark from the rocks in the area and provide him with fire. He said that in this day of marvelous inventions, only the simple ax could do all these things and guarantee his survival.
If the ax is so important to the experienced woodsman, shouldn't we be a little more respectful of it? Shouldn't we learn how to use it correctly, to care for it, and always to keep it sharp and ready for emergency use?
The woodsman, when he said, "My ax," really meant, "My sharp ax, unrusted, with a tight head, ready for hard use. " An ax that doesn't meet these standards is pretty useless. Let's be sure our axes are always ready for use.
As we look at local government, perhaps we can gain a better understanding of its duties and responsibilities, if we compare it with our own troop experience in camp.
A camp is a city in many ways. First of all, the camp has certain rules and regulation (laws) developed for the good of all campers. Then of course, someone must enforce these laws, and it is the responsibility of troop leaders (police and courts) to see that camp regulations are followed. Wherever groups of people live there is need for fire protection, and the camp is no exception. We organize a troop fire guard (firemen) while we are in camp to protect our property from the danger of fire.
Sanitation, including proper disposal of refuse and garbage, must be taken care of both in the city and in camp. In our patrol rotation of duties we have kitchen and campsite "cleaner-uppers" (sanitation department).
There are other similarities between camp and city, but the ones I've mentioned are enough to point out the value of participating citizenship. You all know what happens in camp when we have indifferent citizens. Everyone suffers because of the failure of a few. The same thing is true in a government.
Scouts, here you see permanent evidence that an animal (or bird) has passed along the way. Before we made the cast, the track was pretty temporary - a few hours of wind and rain and all signs of the animal's passing would be erased. By making the cast, we preserved the track for future generations of Scouts to view.
Our lives can make a temporary or permanent mark in the world according to the way we live. Most of us probably never will be great leaders of nations or famous in the arts or sciences, but we can still leave a permanent mark on this earth by the things we do for others.
The daily Good Turn is one way to start making your mark, because as you give of yourself to others in unselfish service, you are making changes in their lives and yours. Those who change the lives of others make a permanent mark in the world, because the good they do lives on long after they have passed along the way.
Has each of you done his Good Turn today? Have you decided to consciously seek out opportunities for service to others and not just wait until you happen to see a need?
Decide now to leave your permanent track as you pass through the years.
Scouts, here you see a plain ordinary candle - a candle such as we use in our Court of Honor ceremonies.
This candle needs three things to keep it burning. These three things are heat, fuel and oxygen. The heat was provided by the match I used to start it burning. The fuel is the melted wax which is absorbed by the wick. The oxygen comes from the air around us.
If we remove any one of these three things, the candle will go out. If there is no heat, the wax will not melt. If the wax is not melted, the wick cannot absorb the fuel, and if the air were cut off, the candle would soon go out.
In the same way, Scouts, you and I need three things to do our tasks in life. These things are related to your body, your mind and your spirit.
In dedication yourselves to the Scout Oath, you pledge that you will do your best to make these three things meaningful in your life. You pledge to keep yourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
We need these three things to do our job, just as the candle needs heat, fuel and oxygen to keep burning.
An architect who had just finished college was trying to get his business established and was having a hard time doing it. He still owed money for some of his college expenses and saw his debts piling up. Each day he became more and more worried, until he was looking around desperately for a solution.
Then a wealthy man, who had been a good friend of his father, came to him one day. "I want you to build me a house," he said. "Build it of the finest materials. Spare no expense. Build it as if it were for yourself and you had all the money in the world. Here is an advance on your fee. I will be gone for some months, so take full charge. "
It was like a dream to the young architect. The advance enabled him to wipe out all his debts, and he knew that he could be married soon. For when the house was finished, he could expect other good commissions. Then his reputation would be established solidly. So he set to work with great joy.
As the building progressed, the architect was struck with an idea. The owner would not be back for months. No one was keeping check on the building. He could build the house just as he pleased. So he began to use second-rate materials where they wouldn't show. As he went on this way, he figured he would make an extra ten thousand dollars for himself, because, of course, he would charge the owner for the best materials throughout.
Well, the house finally was finished and the owner came back. The man was pleased. "It's beautiful," he said. "But, unfortunately I will never live in it. While I was traveling, I made some investments in Europe that will keep me there perhaps permanently. And I want you to have this house as a wedding present from me. It's so beautiful! It's a true picture of your own character, true and loyal all the way through!
Imagine how the young architect felt! Yes, the house was a picture of his own character, and would be there to remind him of his cheating for as long as he lived.
Scouts, we have a bad bleeding case here. I'd better fix him up. (Use neckerchief to make an arm sling on the assistant, ignoring the head wound. )
Well, I fixed him up pretty good, right? No? What's wrong? That's a pretty stupid mistake, isn't it? What should I have done? (Get answers).
The point we're making here is, that bad first aid is worse than no first aid at all. In first aid, you have to know what you're are doing. You don't have to be a doctor to do it right, but you do have to understand what the problem is and then take the proper action. That's what we're learning this month.
All of you know that the First Aid skill award is required for Second Class and the merit badge is required for First Class. So the subject is important for your advancement. But knowing first aid is important for its own sake, not just for advancement. That's why I hope every Scout in this troop become proficient in first aid this
Scouts, I have a sort of trick question for you. Think before you answer. What's the most important thing for a first aider to do?
Call for help? No, that's often very important, but it's not the first. Check for breathing? No - again, that's obviously vital, but it's not the fist thing.
The most important thing for a first aider to do is this: Stay cool. Don't act in a panic. Think first!
Often you must act fast when a person needs first aid.
But think first! That's not always easy to do in a real-life accident or serious illness, but it is essential. It's easy
to be calm and cool when we're practicing first aid here in the troop room. It's not so easy when an accident victim is not breathing or when blood is spurting out of a severed artery. In those situations you must act fast.
But begin training yourself now to stay cool and think before you take action. Then if you're ever in a real crisis situation, you will remember the first aider's first rule - stay cool and think.
Our program theme this month is called "Good Turn Hunt. " Makes it sound like Good Turns are really hard to find, doesn't it?
They're not really. If you always remember that a Scout is kind and a Scout is courteous, you'll find yourself doing Good Turns all the time without thinking about it - helping another student pick up his dropped books, for instance, or taking out the garbage at home without being asked.
This month we're learning skills that some day might be much more important. . With first aid skills, you may save a life. So our Good Turn Hunt is partly a hunt for those skills. Later this month, we're going start a hunt for a big Good Turn we'll do it in February for our chartered organization. That's part of this program theme, too.
But always - every day - you should be conducting your own Good Turn Hunt by remembering that a Scout is kind and courteous.
This month we've been talking a lot about the Good Turn. The Good Turn idea has been a tradition of the Boy Scouts of America for almost 75 years now, but it's been around a lot longer than that.
Let me tell you about a man who practiced the Good Turn hundreds of years ago. A man was traveling down a road when he was ambushed by thieves. They robbed him and almost beat him to death.
As he lay there bleeding, several people passed by him. They didn't want to get involved. Then a man who believed in Good Turns happened along.
Using his own clothing, he improvised bandages and poured wine on the man's wounds as an antiseptic.
Can you guess who the rescuer was? I'll give you a hint: the story is in the Bible. Yes, the rescuer was the Good Samaritan. He has been famous down through the ages because he cared enough to help a suffering person, and because he knew enough first aid to help.
In Scouting, you are learning to be a Good Samaritan, too - to care enough to help a person who needs it, and also to know what to do.
Let's all aim to be Good Samaritans as we go through life. That, after all, is part of what Scouting means - to help other people at all times. We can say the same thing in another way by again going to the Bible. It says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. "
You've probably seen a baseball pitcher who can throw a ball through a brick wall, but he can't throw strikes. In baseball, if you don't have control, you don't win.
That's true for all of us, not just pitchers. Self-control and self discipline are vital to any man. A man must be able to control his tongue, his appetite and his body and brain if he's going to get anywhere.
A long time ago, a sportswriter named Grantland Rice wrote a little poem that expresses the idea very well. The poem is called "Over the Plate" and it goes like this:
It counts not what you have, my friend,
When the story is told at the game's far end;
The greatest brawn and the greatest brain,
The world has known may be yours in vain;
The man with control is the one who counts,
And it's how you use what you've got that counts;
Have you got that bead? Are you aiming straight?
How much of your effort goes over the plate?
"If you have ever been sailing, or at least watched sailboats, you may have noticed that two sailboats can sail in different directions in the same breeze. The trick is in knowing how to set your sails. That's true of Scouts' progress, too. Let me read a very short play to explain what I mean. "
"Act 1: Curtain. Two boys enter to join a Scout troop. Curtain closes. Time passes. The curtain parts again. "
"Act 2: Same scene two or three years later. Where are the Scouts who joined the troop in act 1? There's one! He's an Eagle now. And there's the other! But he's only wearing the Second Class badge. Why? They both had the same chance. One of them sailed ahead, taking advantage of all opportunities. The other just limped along. It must be the set of their sails.
"Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox said it this way:
One ship drives east and an other drives west,
With the selfsame winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales,
Which tells us the way to go. "
Scouts, if you loosen five or six adjoining spokes on a bicycle wheel, it will warp out of shape so that it no longer makes a true circle. Pretty soon you're going to have a bumpy ride.
Your character is something like a bike wheel. The spokes are a series of rules that in Scouting we call the Scout Law. The points of our Scout Law are guides to help you stay straight and true. If you get loose and sloppy on any point of the Scout Law, the result will be the same as loosening the spokes on a bike wheel. Your personality will be warped and out of shape.
One way to stay true to yourself is to see that your observance of the Scout Law is always foremost in your mind.
When doubts creep in and you might consider violating one of the points of the Law, think about the warped, out of shape bike wheel and resolve to live up to the ideals of Scouting.
Just before you go to sleep tonight, check this list:
Did you get up on time? Did you make your bed?
Did you eat a good breakfast? Did you read something interesting?
Did you learn something? Were you polite,
Did you help a friend? Did you do some work around the house?
Did you try to earn some money to help pay for your clothes?
Did you think about your future? Did you read a newspaper or watch a newscast?
Did you brush your teeth? Twice?
Did you tell your parents how much you love them?
Imagine how good you'll feel about yourself, if you can say "Yes" to these questions, today, and every day.
Your third grade teacher said you had a problem with math. You gave up on math, and you eliminated two-thirds of the jobs available in the world. Somebody decided the Navy needed a cook. After your hitch, you opened a restaurant.
Mother was a nurse. Now you are. Why are you where you are? Because you want to be there? Think about it. Maybe you ought to be somewhere else. Maybe it's not too late to figure out where, and how to get there.
Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer, The Nobel, Oscars, Tonys, Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back, a kiss behind the ear, a four pound bass, a full moon, an empty parking space, a crackling fire, a great meal, a glorious sunset, hot soup, cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards.
Enjoy its tiny delights. There's plenty for all of us.
Scouts, I wonder how many of us are really mentally awake, keep our eyes open and are really aware of what goes on around us. I mean in this fast paced world in which we live in, how many of us ever stop to think and take a look around us at all the beautiful things that God has given us that we simply take for granted. What if they were suddenly all gone one day, maybe tomorrow. The reality of this is only too close sometimes, isn't it? A poet William H Davies in his poem LEISURE sums up very well the unfortunate truth of reality today. It goes like this:
What is this life if full
We have no time to stand
No time to stand beneath
And stare as long as sheep
No time to see, when woods
Where squirrels hide there
nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad
Streams full of stars,
like skies at night.
Are you mentally awake, Scouts?
It went the way of
Do you know who just about
killed all those phrases? All of us. We did not use them enough. We now
Mannerly responses are learned at home. Rude, barbaric responses are also learned at home.
William of Wykeham, who was born in 1324 said,
"Manners maketh man. "
If we're so smart in the 20th century,
How come we're not as civilized as William was in the 14th century?
To the person who says, "Huh?", pass this message along.
Smart shoppers read the labels when they go to the supermarket. Product labels tell them a number of things:
Whether the can or package contains beans, corn, flour, or pork chops; what ingredients it contains; what it costs; the weight of the product. The label also carries the trademark of the packer or manufacturer. You may learn a lot by reading labels.
In Scouting, we carry around our own labels. The uniform itself is a kind of label. It tells people that we are Scouts and that we are trying to live by the Scout Oath and Law.
If they know anything about Scouting, the badges we wear are labels, too. The badges describe some of the ingredients that make up your package - how far you have progressed and whether you're now a leader in the troop.
How well does your label describe the contents of your package? Can it be said of you: "The enclosed package lives up to the Oath and Law? He is prepared to help in emergencies and does a good turn daily?"
And is it true that the badge of rank you wear honestly reflects your Scouting skills? I'm quite sure it does because
we don't give badges in this troop to Scouts who haven't earned them.
Wear your label, your uniform and its badges, proudly. And remember that it tells a lot about you and about your pledge to the Scout Oath and Law.
True patriotism is more than getting a lump in your throat when the flag passes by. It involves determination on your part to se that America remains free. It involves your willingness to put the best interest of the nation ahead of your own self-interest. Single interests may be important. But the art of democracy is the ability to recognize the common good. The ability to give and not just to take. 231 million people can pull our nation apart or pull it together. Which way did you pull today?
When a Scout becomes an Eagle Scout he's still a boy. Only a little more than a million Scouts have ever advanced to Scouting's highest rank. Some 1. 5% of the more than 40 million Scouts who have started out on the Eagle trail since the beginning of Scouting in America 79 years ago completed the trip. The Eagle has tramped a long, rugged and rewarding trail. No two Eagle Scouts are exactly alike, yet all are fundamentally alike. By noting some of these fundamentals , an insight might be glimpsed of what an Eagle Scout is. The final result is the uses the boy makes of them as he grows into manhood.
He has learned that reverence to God comes before all other things. He knows that respect for the rights and convictions of others is part of his duty to God and his fellow man. He demonstrates the true meaning of loyalty, although he may not be able to define it. He has learned discipline and teamwork and how to apply them in his daily living. He has developed his own code of honor based on the ideals of Scouting. He has learned that physical bravery may require less courage than standing up for one's convictions. He has perseverance and determination: He must have if he is to attain Eagle rank. He has the knowledge that nature gives to those who seek it. He has Scouting skills that will be invaluable to him all his life. He presents a cheerful outlook on life even in the face of hardships and disappointments. He has more than a vague idea of what duty to his country is: he knows it starts with duty to God, his family and himself. He eagerly seeks the underlying peace offered by God through his wilderness and wildlife. He's a qualified junior leader. He realizes his obligation to the movement that gives him the opportunity to gain and develop those attributes of character.
If you asked most sane and temperate men and women throughout the world what they wanted most for the holidays, their first choice wouldn't come in a magnificent box with a fancy ribbon. They couldn't find it on a colorful page of a fat Christmas catalog. They wouldn't see it glistening out at them from a window of a smart boutique. Because it's the most precious and elusive gift of all. . . peace on earth.
What magic there is in togetherness alone. Unshared. Undivided. Far away in your soft green world of solitude of things to fill the dreams of childhood. The music of wind in the pines. Firelight. Night sounds. Only for a while will you stand the tallest tree in the forest. Capture those fleeting moments. While the child is learning Scouting, Scouting will teach the child. And the child will need the green world someone else gave you. Pass it on.
How many of you think you know what career you will choose when you become men? Most of you have plenty of time to make up your mind, and probably you'll change your ideas before you really get serious about a career.
The reason I asked the question is that this month you have a chance to do some career exploration as we sample a few merit badges. You know there are more than 100 merit badges and probably half of them are related to careers. So your years in Scouting are a great opportunity to take close look at the world of work.
Don't miss the chance. It's a chance not only to find out which careers interest you, but it's also a chance to find out which careers you don't like. That's a good thing to find out now, if you can, so you don't spend a lot of time thinking about a career that's not for you.
If you're on the trail to Eagle - and I hope everybody here is - you have to worry about getting the required merit badges - First Aid, Safety, Camping, the three Citizenship badges, and so on. But for the other merit badges you'll need, don't just pick the ones that look easiest. Use the opportunity offered by merit badges to explore working careers and meet people in those careers. When it's time for you to decide on a career you'll be glad you did.
In our everyday speech, "first class" means the best. When we say that a man is traveling first class, or that's a first class restaurant, everyone understands what we mean.
In Scouting, "First Class" has another meaning. As we all know, it's the fourth of our seven ranks. In some ways it's the most important because it's the hump you have to climb over to reach Star, Life and Eagle. A First Class Scout has mastered the basics of Scouting and is ready for the advanced course.
You fellows who joined the troop last fall ought to be setting your sights on First Class badge by now. Most of you have made Second Class by this time and you'll soon have been in Scouting long enough to be eligible to earn First Class rank. Why not make it a goal to make Fist Class by the time we go on our "Great Outdoor Quest" this summer?
In this troop, we try to be first class in everything we do - camping, hiking, camporees, Scout shows, trips. To achieve that, we need lots of First Class Scouts - those who have earned the First Class badge.
Tools like these are essential in making repairs around the house and in doing the kind of community Good Turn we're planning this month. You couldn't do the job without them.
But they must be in good condition. If your hammer head is loose, the hammer becomes a dangerous weapon. If your saw blade is dull, it makes the work harder and you also run the risk of cutting yourself if the blade jumps out of the groove. And if your screwdriver's blade is all beat up, you're going to ruin a lot of screws.
Your character is like a set of tools. Think of your character as a set of attributes we talk about in the Scout Law - trustworthy, loyal, helpful and so on. If you're not trustworthy, that part of your character is like a hammer with a loose head. You could be dangerous to others because no-one could depend on you to do what had to be done in an emergency. If you're not loyal, you're like a dull saw blade - not reliable when the chips are down.
A good craftsman keeps his tools in excellent shape because they are his livelihood. A good Scout keeps his character in excellent shape because he knows that the attributes that make up his character are his most precious possession. Let's remind ourselves of that by joining in the Scout Law.
You can't watch TV or read a newspaper today without hearing the word "community. " There's talk about the black community, the Hispanic community, the business community and the scientific community. Wherever there are people with the same interests, they're a community.
You're part of a community, too. It's our neighborhood (or town). As a resident of this community, you have some common interests with everybody else that lives there. You want it to be clean and safe with pleasant streets, good schools and friendly people - a place you can be proud of.
Well, there's something you can do about that. In fact we're going to do something about it next week with our Good Turn. But you can do more. You can avoid littering, for example, and it won't hurt you to pick up other people'
s litter either. You can be a good citizen in school and thus make your school better.
Be proud of you community. And let's all do our part to make it a place we all can be proud of.
In just two hundred years, your country, through freedom and hard work, has changed the world. In agriculture, industry, education, medicine, law, transportation, and on and on. No country can match America's record in religious freedom, civil freedom, human rights, and the importance and dignity of the individual. We do have our differences. But when we join together in times of crisis, our strength is awesome. Among all the world's nations, America still stands out in front. You're an American. You're the finest ever - and don't you ever, ever forget it.
Many books offer answers on how to live our lives. But, there's one book that raises questions about what kind of lives we lead. It's the phone book. It has hotlines for Alcohol Problems, Battered Women, Child Abuse Drugs, Elderly Abuse, Gamblers Anonymous, Rape Crisis, Runaways, VD Information, and more. Why so much misery? What went wrong? Don't we know what we're doing to ourselves?