The International Scout
Chuck May Scoutmaster's Minute
Jordan Wong Eagle Ceremony
22 November 1992
First of all, Jordan, you know that Dave is at college in Massachusetts and couldn't
make it down for your ceremony. But he did say he would try to eat another fish eye in
your honor. Better him than me.
You've heard us talk about how Jordan had to challenge himself, and there's no doubt
that he has met his share of obstacles. But there were some silver linings, too. After
all, who could refuse a face like that! Like the first summer at camp after his fractured
skull. Jordan had a rash of headaches and dizzy spells, each of which called for a visit
to the camp infirmary. I wasn't too concerned, though. Especially after I visited him
there, where he was having ice cream served in bed, and was being pampered by a
19-year-old blonde nursing student, making him the envy of every male in camp.
On a serious note, this afternoon, I need take a moment to acknowledge the passing
of a friend. I only met him once, but he has had a great influence on my life. I don't
think any of you have met him, and I doubt that many would even recognize his name, but he
has had a lot to do with your lives since you joined Scouting, and I hope his influence
will live on with you.
Mr. William Hillcourt died last week, at the age of 92. Many of us older Scouts knew
him as Green Bar Bill, because he wrote a column each month for Boy's Life on the business
of being a Patrol Leader. One of my prized possessions is an autographed copy of his last
book. - the edition which was in use when Jordan became a Scout. In fact, I brought along
several of his books, such as the 1959 edition, from when I was a Scout, the Scoutmasters
Handbook, and the Boy Scout Field Book. He will be missed, but as long as Scouts camp and
hike, tie knots and practice being prepared, provide service to others and challenge
themselves to strive to Eagle, his legacy will survive.
Jordan may not know who Green Bar Bill was, but he knows the power of international
Scouting. The summer that Jordan joined the troop, he went to China. When he came back, he
told of carrying his Scout Handbook, the last written by Bill Hillcourt, everywhere and of
talking with the youth of China about what Scouting meant to him and to them. He learned
that Scouting had been outlawed there for 40 years, but that boys still held Scout
meetings in secret, because they believed in the principals of the Scout Law and Oath.
I don't know exactly what it is about those twelve words of the Scout Law, and the
oath to obey them, that makes them so universal. But I know that almost all Scout
organizations around the word have similar words in their oaths and laws. And they don't
just apply to Scouting. A psychologist recently wrote a best seller which talks about
character. He defines it in terms of integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage,
justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule. Sounds a lot like
the Scout Law, doesn't it. Come to think of it, it doesn't sound much different than a
slightly older writing - the Ten Commandments.
But the Scout Law is even different than the Ten Commandments. Bill Hillcourt wrote
that most laws start with a "do" or a "don't", or a "Thou shalt
not", but the Scout Law is a statement of facts - "A Scout is Trustworthy"
. ."A Scout is Helpful" .. "A Scout is Reverent". Notice that it
doesn't describe what you do, or what you look like, but it describes what you are.
I think that is why the boys Jordan met in China held on to their Scouting, just as
they did their religion. We have seen the same thing in Europe under the Nazis, and in
Eastern Europe under Communist governments. Scouting never went away, it just went into
hiding. A government can take away your property, your personal freedoms, even your life.
But they cannot change what you are on the inside. They cannot change your character.
If you are truly a Scout, and I think you all are, you will be all of those twelve
things - not perfectly, but deep inside you have the right stuff. Then, when you are faced
with a challenge and have to make a tough decision, remember the words of the Psalm:
Search your own heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.
And remember that anyone can say the Scout Law - it takes a person of real character
to live the Scout Law. Robert Baden-Powell was one, Bill Hillcourt was another. These
Eagles who lined up in front of the stage, as well as the Troop 93 Eagles who couldn't get
here today have accepted that challenge. And Eagle Scout Jordan Wong has already shown
that he understands what Emerson meant when he said, "What you are shouts so loudly
that I cannot hear what you say".
Will you join those boys in China in making the Scout Law one of the vital parts of
your character which can never be taken away, and which you will never surrender?
© Chuck May, 1996
May be distributed freely, with attribution, for non-commercial use within the Scouting
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