Get started and keep going. That’s my message to myself tonight. I counted several “getting started” drafts on this blog of mine and realized that the words were not lyrical because they really didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t care for those phrases so why should you? Even now, as I speak to myself and permit you to look over my shoulder, I am conscious of a tendency to speak to myself with a voice that is off center and not true to me. So, forgive me if you will –or don’t but I really need to get these words out and remind myself of a few things.
First, in the few months of working with scouts in my troop I realize how much there is to learn. Oh, I know plenty about stoves, and frostbite, declination and sheep shanks. The biggest thing I am struggling to learn are the scouts. What were they like when they were Wolves or Webelos. What color was their favorite Pinewood Derby car? Who are they? Last week one of them made a joke and, for a moment, I thought he was serious. What he said about my uniform was funny, really, but it took me a moment to catch on. He was patient and didn’t give up and in doing so I learned something about him. I also learned something else. I learned that it must demand a lot of patience for any scout to work with a new Scoutmaster. If I can look at things as they see it I can wonder what it must be like for them. That is, if I don’t know them they sure as heck don’t know me. I imagine they will wonder if I will get angry? Will I give up on them? Will I believe in them when their self confidence runs bone dry? They have no idea. So, we all have a lot of learning to do.
At a recent encampment with another troop the scouts observed the other troop’s flag atop a tower of lashed together staves. They told me they had considered replacing the other troop’s flag with their own but chose not to because they weren’t sure how I would feel about it. Oh, but we do have things to learn about each other.
Second, we also have a lot of unlearning to do. Planning is one new adventure. These scouts are ready for it; they are as ready as they can be for something they know little about. They are ready for adventure, but do they know their own capacity? Or, do they know mine? Maybe I overestimate them? More likely we underestimate each other. There’s so much to sort out and so little time to do it.
How much time is left? The clock is merciless and is not my friend. There’s no snooze button; some of these scouts are already 17 and time is accelerating. The same clock that struck the first bell of midnight when they joined the troop moments ago is on it’s penultimate toll.
So, that’s the lesson tonight: Get Started and Keep Going!
Time and tide wait for no man (or scout).