It’s only been, oh, let’s say, 50 years, since I wore this Cub Scout kerchief. I still take it with me on hikes to wipe the. . .well, you can guess. Now and then someone on the trail will recognize it. “Hey, isn’t that from the Scouts”?
For some reason I never went on to Boy Scouts or Eagle Scouts. Maybe sports and academics and, of course, Church, took the place of that. Scouting for goals, grades and god I suppose (oh, and girls!).
But along the way, and over all these years, I never have forgotten the Scout Oath:
“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and Country; to be square, and to obey the law of the pack.”
Honor. Doing one’s best. Those still seem like very good things.
Duty to God? Didn’t really understand it then (whose God were we talking about?) and after years of church and bible and prayer and theology and ministry and “being a good believer” I never did discover what “duty” meant. Follow commands (bibles or bishops)? Do good? That shouldn’t be a “duty” should it?
To Be Square! I love that! Anyone remember when people said, “Yeah, s/he’s so square!”?
I took this to mean, have clean, clear edges (straight-laced). Honesty, integrity, cleanlinesss. In other words, Be a Good Boy! As my grandfather said, “Keep your nose clean.” Ok.
To Obey the Law of the Pack! Oh boy. Well, we were the Wolf Pack but I don’t think we learned much about protecting the endangered wolves. I suppose this instilled in our young minds that we ought to fall in line and not step out of line to mess up the Laws set down by any Authorities: Den Mother, Parents, Teachers, Ministers, Police, President, and God, of course. Follow, obey and don’t question.
I remember that being a scout was a lot of fun. And my knot-tying and collections to earn badges were silly but brought praise from adults. Learning to camp and to enjoy the outdoors were highlights of my scout time.
Whenever I pull out the old shredded kerchief to wipe my brow I think of scouting. How I learned to scout for the good, the best, in myself and others, to appreciate the wildness of Nature, and to seek a “pack”–a community–where I could be a leader and learn from others how to live honorably.
I guess I’ll always be a scout. Not as square as they may want to make me. Maybe not as dutiful to someone’s God. But childlike, wolflike and a little wild, while seeking and scouting for the best.