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?

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Chuck May, 1996

ChuckMay@may-engineering.com

May be distributed freely, with attribution, for non-commercial use within the Scouting community.

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