Monday, April 15, 2013

Are you tougher than a Boy Scout?

There's a show out new  many may not have heard of it you're not a devotee of the National Geographic channel or you don't have a Boy Scout in the house.  Obviously, I fall into the latter category.  We've been watching it like fiends, and while it has fallen into a bit of repetition, I highly recommend an episode or two.

Generally, it's a battle between present Eagle Scouts and men who are trying to relive their youth.  Sad but true, interviews with most of the adult men center around variations on the theme of "I almost made it, but I was just a few badges shy" or "I quit before actually becoming an Eagle Scout, and I want to prove to my son/daughter/brother/dead father I can still do it."  The problem with this premise is, they are adult MEN with sons/daughters/brothers/dead fathers.  They're usually in their late 30s or 40s.  One I think was hovering at the cusp between 20 and 30, but he's an anomaly.  And they're up against 16, 17, and 18 year olds.  You know, young men in the PRIME of their LIVES. There have been a couple adult males who won their individual challenge (all by only a small margin), but we've yet to see the adult males take all three challenges.  Usually, at some point, someone is wheezing and mentioning they thought they were in shape prior to the event.  I will also say, we've noticed the two who won their individual events had The Crazy Eyes, which you know when you see.  Even Brownie, who's only just turned 9, has commented on those individuals' rabid looks.

My point isn't that youth is great or to ask why no one in these adult males' lives informed them they were actually metaphorical lambs being led to the slaughter.  My point is, and I know I go on and on about the values of scouting, but here I go again.  Something has emerged in these competitions that warms my heart every time, and it makes me thankful for scouting.  Usually, the men--young and older--engage in a kind of relay challenge, where using the skills that would be earned in merit badges, they individually have to complete a challenge, then tag the next guy to go to the next location and do something else.  The scouts are usually off and running, but a small group of them stay behind until the adult male has finished too.

You'd think during this time there would be some significant trash talking going on by the scouts, but there isn't.  During the competition, there's a lot of "come on, you can do it" to their fellow scouts, but they don't negatively trash the other competitor.  While that may be the design of the show, I don't know, even more interesting, is they ENCOURAGE the other team.  The first time I saw it, it was after the scout competing had left the area.  The remaining scouts were giving advice about how to shoot a bag with a slingshot, telling the man to stay calm, breathe through the shot, etc. I made a point, in subsequent episodes, to look for this kind of interaction, and it came through every time.  There has yet to be a point where the scouts weren't gracious and exhibiting awesome team skills, even to those not on their team.

Think about that.  Extending team encouragement in the middle of a competition, to the OTHER team.  Where else do you see that?  Where else is competition had, and a friendly game is just that, a FRIENDLY game? I think about how we belittle helping others in our society, and we've become every man for himself.  The phrase "don't hate the player, hate the game" is really true.  These young men show that if we uplift the player, we uplift the game, and I'm glad that is being shown. 

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