Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Scoutmaster's Key, or What Others See In You

Last night was my Troop and Crew's Court of Honor. 16 boys earned 97 merit badges (5 boys each earned 8 merit badges apiece, which is an extraordinary number from attending Scout Camp), we gave out three Venturing Bronze awards and one Venturing Ranger award (the first time in Crew 250 history one had been given out). It was an exciting night for the boys, but they also pulled a surprise on me.

Last night, the boys in the Troop petitioned the council office and wrote in on my behalf to have the Scoutmaster's Key awarded to me. This is an award that takes three years of active tenure and a lot of activity and a productive program to earn, and Scout leaders can turn the paperwork in after they have completed all requirements. So what makes this different? I didn't turn in any paperwork for this. My scouts did. They sent in the application and wrote a letter to the council office on my behalf. Frankly, that makes it worth a lot more to me.

Very often, we look to see what we are worth in the world, whether it be our salaries, our titles or other aspects that we choose to use to identify ourselves with. Scouts like recognition, and that desire for recognition doesn't change when we are adults. Cub Scouts like lots of patches, Boy Scouts like the rank patches and the medals, adult leaders are all about "the knots". Check out any adult leader who's been doing it for a decade or more, and you'll see a leader with a bunch of square knot patches right over their heart looking like a Soviet era general. Is it a little silly? Maybe, but it represents a lot of years of service and dedication. Most of them are training and tenure related; you do the time and the required training, and you get the knot when you finish. While it's cool to claim recognition, I think it's even better when it comes out of the blue and by the ones that are most connected to what you are doing. In my testing world, being recognized as a Miago-do black belt is in the same category. I can't claim it for myself, it has to be given to me by others who believe I have earned the right to have it. That makes it more meaningful.

So to my tester friends out there, think to yourself what you appear to be in the eyes of others. Knowing you do something awesome is a great feeling. Knowing that other people feel and believe that you do something awesome makes it that much more cool :).
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