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Helping to Build Character 

We cannot fashion a boy’s character overnight. To reach our aims we must attract the boy and continue his interest for a time sufficiently long to develop in him those traits and habits of conduct which make for character and citizenship.

To attract him isn’t difficult. But to hold him—"Ay, there’s the rub," as Shakespeare would say.

And yet on the day he enters Scouting he himself places in our hands the means of keeping him—his interest. In the very fact that he joins we have the key to holding him.

He wants to become a Scout because for some reason or other his interest has been awakened and must be satisfied. He advances because his interest in the subject makes him want to master them. And when his interest dies—he drops out.

The boy’s interest—that’s the key to holding him.

Interest in what? Certainly not in our aims, certainly not in character building and citizenship training. He does not argue in his own mind—unless he be abnormal—that he is coming along to Troop meeting week after week to have his character developed or to learn how to become a good citizen. His first thought is the fun he is going to have. His interest is in the "goings-on." He comes into the Troop with great anticipations and big hopes, and only as we see eye to eye with him on Scouting, only as we get a personal vision of Scouting from HIS point of view, can we fulfill those hopes and thereby hold him.

Satisfying the Boy’s Expectations

And for what does a boy hope? What does he expect?

He expects adventure—HIGH ADVENTURE—in Scouting! That is what he comes for—that is his all-absorbing interest—and that is what we must give him.

The World opens up to a boy the vista of open spaces, woods, rivers, lakes, mountains, which are to be his habitat and where he may find his highest joy. He sees himself as a frontiersman, and explorer. He sees in Scouting the means of becoming one.

And so he joins with enthusiasm. Our responsibility is to see that his enthusiasm is kept burning. It is within our power and it is the only way in which we can keep him.

"Sometimes we are tempted to think," says Gilcraft, "that, because perhaps our Scouting has to be done in a big town, there can be little chance for romance. The truth is exactly the opposite. The duller the surroundings of ordinary life, the more romantic does the outside world appear. This applies with greater force to boys than to grown-ups. It is so easy to forget that a few yards off his accustomed beat lies an unknown land for every boy. Most boys know their immediate neighborhoods in a patchy way; all that is beyond is ‘lost beyond the ranges,’ and for them it is just as much an adventure to go outside their usual orbit and make discoveries for themselves as it is for a grown-up to explore foreign lands."

So let us not be fearful that we may not be able to provide the romance. Thousands of other busy men, serving also as Scoutmasters, are giving to their Scouts the experiences they want. Let us, then, make use of our imagination. Let us listen to the boys’ own suggestions. Let us use the ideas of others—and by our efforts we shall see the boy as, in his own eyes, he grows into a young Daniel Boone, or Kit Carson, and in ours, into a real Scout with a strong character—a true American citizen.

Hillcourt Essays

 

 

   

 

 


Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
The Boy's Game ] The Game of Scouting ] Let 'em Lead! ] The ONLY Method ] [ Character ] Are the Patrols Patrols? ] Patrol Carries On ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Object of Camping ] Patrol Camping ] Patrol Hikes ] Gilcraft Patrol System ] The Patrol System ] Court of Honor (PLC) ] Gilwell PL Training ] Philipps' Patrol System ] Golden Arrow PL Training ] Patrol Leader's Creed ] PL's Promise Ceremony ] Patrol Competition Awards ] Informal Scout Signals ] Ten Essentials ] Story Telling ] JLT Skits: Leadership ] Master & Commander ] Patrol Activities ] Patrol Motivation ] Troop Meeting Hints ] Troop Meetings ] Patrol Leader Training ] Essays ] Patrol Flags ] Training Patrol Leaders ] Troop Brainstorming ] Menus ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.