Scoutmaster John Templeton
1993 - 1995
Memo from Opinion Police:
I think the word �Scout�, with all the good things that it means, deserves to be capitalized. If, when you say scout� you mean some guy who sneaked through the woods ahead of Col. Custer to find out where the Indians were hiding, then you don�t need to capitalize it. But when you are talking about a young man who has gone against the current trends of laxity in all things and instead has committed himself to the ideals of character, service and patriotism, then he deserves a big �S� whenever he appears in print.
As I approach my 60th year, I surely have accumulated a lengthy scroll of significant experiences, things the mean a lot to me�my first pocket knife (lasted about 3 weeks, lost it), graduation from high school (don�t know where that diploma is), my first paycheck (I had that in a frame at one time.), getting married (I don�t know where the license is but Nikki is in the kitchen.), children, advanced degrees, promotions, trophies, certificates, pictures of me with the mayor and so on. Standing equal to the best of these is my experience in Scouting. I have 3 or 4 boxes of memorabilia to chronicle things I did, places I went, who was with me. I cherish every one of them.
After being away from an active role in Scouting for several years now, I still have people thank me or congratulate me or simply remind me of things I did when I was a Scouter. But I can say frankly and sincerely that Scouting has done more for me than I can ever do for Scouting. With all the satisfactions of helping organize a Troop, recruiting Scouts and Leaders, seeing boys step up when given an opportunity to display their character, seeing Scouts move into adulthood adorned with the invisible uniform that says �Scout� just as clearly as khaki and red�with all this I know that I got more out of Scouting than any boy can claim.
Before joining Troop 1776, I was not a joiner. First lesson of Scouting: a good parent will do almost anything to help his son or daughter make their way through the trails of life. Second lesson: if you�re going to do it for your child, why not help another parent�s child, too? Third lesson: everyone can use a little help; can I help? And so they began, lesson layered upon lesson.
As my son was preparing to bridge over into Scouting from the Cub program where I had managed to keep a fairly low (read �below the horizon�) profile, I heard that the Scout Troop at St. Ann�s needed another assistant to keep the program going. Ed Rousselot was the only other reliable assistant; then as now a thoughtful, patient eminence behind the whole program. I went over to see Mike Horne and offered to �help out�. Before long I was an Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 1776. I put on a uniform that I still treasure and took at title, Assistant Scoutmaster that gave me more mental status than anything I had ever done. Lesson: Everyone can contribute something.
I can�t tell you how large an influence my being an eager, active Scouter had on my son, Alex. Only he could tell you that. But I think it made a positive impression on him to see a middle-aged man put on a natty uniform with short britches and long socks and go unhesitatingly before the world. He joined me in learning many of the same lessons. I honestly believe he learned some of them faster and better than I did. The time I spent with Alex--camping, fishing, backpacking, canoeing, enjoying fires, tying knots, building bridges--is one of my life�s greatest treasures. Lesson: set the positive example; it can erase 10,000 impotent words.
Soon it was a busy schedule of monthly camp-outs, camporees, district roundtables, summer camps and, of course, the weekly Troop meetings. I saw a cross-section of America�men, women, blue collar, professional, sales, temporarily out-of-work, retirees, Methodists, Adventists, black, white and Asian, young and old�coming together to serve a worthy cause. I saw boys with incredible potential, amazing talent, delightful personalities, big problems and everyday challenges. I learned a new lesson: there are a lot of really decent people in the world (and many of them show up in Scouting).
Perhaps most valuable of all for me were the lessons that we tend to think of as being for the boys�how to set goals, communicate goals, break big projects down into smaller tasks, recruit and prepare helpers, monitor, revise and refine tactics and techniques, how to evaluate and critique, get along with others, settle disagreements, know when to note and not talk, when to stop talking and take action�but these are lessons that an adult needs to internalize, also. I needed a review course in goal setting and a practical arena to practice it in; I got that in Scouting.
It is a humble honor to have had the opportunity once or twice per week to stand up among peers and acolytes and, while reciting the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, to have a brief solemn moment to contemplate the meaning of Character��On my honor . . .� , �A Scout is . . .� . A Scout is what every American should be, what every responsible, thoughtful human being should strive for�to be either a person of character or one who values character and wants to develop it. I got a new look at character in Scouting�and another lesson.
Even today, a wisp of leafy-laden air from the floor of a deep forest on a hot summer day brings back memories of summer camp, those halcyon days of leisure and learning that nearly all Scouts come to treasure and all Scouters treasure immediately. The crunch of snow under a Vibram sole recalls a brisk backpack up Blood Mountain in January. I used to tell the Scouts, �This won�t come to you, you have to go out and get it.� At 1776 we got it and I still have it. Another lesson.
I will leave this reminiscence with one other lesson that I picked up in Scouting, not on any single, memorable occasion, but gradually, inconspicuously, through the ruminations of a mind in repose. The lesson: you never hurt yourself by raising your standards. Scouting raised my standards. I think I bumped the standards at 1776 up a notch or two. Thank you Scouting. Thank you Troop 1776. Thank you men and mothers and boys of Scouting. Thank God. It worked for both of us but I think I still got the best of it.
Scoutmaster, Troop 1776 (ret.)
John C. Templeton CLU, RHU
The Templar Agency
P.O. Box 10905, Knoxville
TN 37939-0905, Phone (865) 681-4321, Fax (865) 681-3560