My Scouting Experience
I was a scout for at least 8 years. To be fair, I'm an average scout. I missed out on many camping trips on the pretext of wanting the weekend to study. But in doing so I lost out on many memories.
In my high school, the scouts were the cool guys (this was prior to the introduction of girl scouts, and I honestly prefer it to be single-gendered but anyway…). The reason I joined scouts in the first place was that we all had to join something, and scouts seemed the best fit for me.
Over the years I realized that the guys I was hanging out with were people I would never really hang out with much otherwise. Of course, there were a couple of other goody-two-shoes like me, but quite a few of them are probably really not my type.
Last weekend, I joined quite a number of others for an old boys scout reunion camp. It brought back many memories, of many stories and experiences that we shared together. But I also realized that these guys never really changed much since high school. They smoked a lot, cursed a lot, and drank some (and I drink too). I felt slightly out of place, but it didn't really matter really. I respected their choices, they respected mine, and we had fun.
However, I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have some degree of anchoring back in high school, I would probably have been easily influenced by these guys. Back in high school, scouts was run by some old boys, who are themselves not the best of role models sometimes.
So, what lessons did scouting all these years teach me? I wouldn't say that they are lessons you can't learn outside of scouting, but being a scout does toughen you up to a certain degree. If you couldn't stand the rigor, you'd probably have dropped out much earlier.
One of the key lessons of scouting is when doing something I'd rather not do, say carrying heavy bakau in the hot sun back and forth repeatedly, or washing large and greasy pots with a small tap, is to take things a step at a time. Just a step here and a step there, a pot here and a pot there, and eventually the job gets done. To me this is the greatest lesson that scouting has taught me, though I found out later that sometimes the hardest challenges in life are not those of physical tiredness but of mental perseverance.
(And I loooved marching. I could march for hours in the sun…)
I want to believe that things have changed in scouting. Walking the talk and forging character should be its main goals, and hopefully men of character who are clean in word and deed would graduate from scouting.