SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 138: The Order Of The Arrow

From Left to Right, Jack, Scott, Ira

In my youth, I was never a Boy Scout. But life can be amusing in the way things play out at times. Why do I state this? Ten years ago I was recruited to manage a multi-region basketball tournament for three consecutive years. I will not go into the details of how I got there, just sufficient to know three things, 1) I was clueless as to how the scouting organization worked, 2) basketball is the one sport I truly stink at, and 3) my uniform was brand new, no camping stories and not a single award patch. And trust me, for a Scout Leader, all three were way un-cool.

Hundreds of kids, parents and scout leaders were suddenly looking to me for organizational guidance, and although a complete rooky, I even ended up conducting a court of honor.

Three years of long weeks accompanied by months of basketball effort. Years where I received both the applause and criticism of youth and parent. Thirty-six months of bearing the knowledge that those I was serving were all more qualified to be in my shoes than I.

Years that received no financial reward or accreditation, and years that have embedded in the very character of who I am.

No, I am not scout alumni. I have no Eagle patch, cannot tie anything better than a bowknot, and to this day, cannot recite the Boy Scout Oath or Law. But one thing I have taken away, it is a powerful organization of good kids, guided by dedicated leadership. Leaders who all share one purpose: To do whatever they can to help youth develop skills that will carry them forward in living a responsible and productive life. So for that cause, I salute all who willingly volunteer their time, talents and compassion in serving the kids of BSA.

This evening I run into an elite group of scouts, the NOAC (National Order of the Arrow).

You might expect to see a team of muscle scored commando jocks running the outfit. After all the NOAC is elite – “Get down and give me 100 push ups!” stuff, but that is not necessarily the case. What is important to the youth of NOAC?… Values.

Values. Not brawn, vain ambition or self-magnification, but time tested traditions of service, respect and honor for those around them. Values that I am proud to say were the biggest part of my take away from my three years of basketball agony.

Tonight I meet three humble men, all of whom are dedicating a major portion of their retirement years to serving a group of fine young men.

My time is extremely short, their meeting is about to start and I cannot photograph the troop (legal age restrictions will not allow me that).

So in respect to the regimented schedule of Troup 566, I keep my interview limited to my two questions.

Question One (q1):
What words of wisdom, council or advice would you like to share with the world?

Question Two (q2):
Where would you like to see the world heading in the future?

(q1): “Lets get along and let go of fighting.”

(q2): “The team takes first at the NOAC competition.”

(q1): “Please learn how to balance a checkbook, more for the government that anyone else.”
(q2): “You got me. I try to not look that far, I’m in retirement.” Then he goes on, “As long as we are talking about the future, “Please learn how to balance a checkbook, more for the government that anyone else.”

(q1): “It takes two to create the good as well as the bad.”
(q2): “Tomorrow.”

Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law:
A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent.

Readers, see you tomorrow!

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