February 4th is Scout Sunday; a day to recognize and celebrate the gift scouting brings to a nation.
All my years as a parish pastor, I was privileged to serve a congregation that sponsored a Scout troop.
Scouting provides young people with skill development, an experience and understanding of collaboration and teamwork. Scouting seeks to build character. Ultimately, scouting is about leadership.
I especially cherish the chance I had to work with dozens of young people as they worked toward and achieved “The Eagle”, the pinnacle achievement of Scouting.
As part of the work involved in reaching the rank of Eagle, the scout was to undertake a project that would better the community. They were then to recruit people to help do the project and raise the moneys necessary.
More often than not, the scout would undertake the whole work and see the volunteers as assistants in accomplishing the task. The focus was “the project”.
Each year, I tried to help the scout to see that projects were a dime a dozen and that the work was really about “leadership”. It was not the scout’s job to do the project; the scout was to recruit people who shared his passion about the project and who were eager to bring their talents to accomplish the task. Leaders share the fire of their enthusiasm with others and then support, animate and encourage others in the completion of the task.
Leaders bring enthusiasm and encouragement to a dream. The nuts and bolts of overseeing the accomplishment of that dream are the work of managers, not leaders.
In a word, the goal of scouting is to build character. All the skills and talents and experiences of scouting are meant to outfit the scout to make a contribution to the common good, to live a life of service.
It is in character building that the ultimate value of scouting is achieved.
Fr. Steve Adrian
Below: Photos from St. Matthew’s Scout Sunday, February 2003.