Scoutmaster Minutes

Courtesy of Simon Kenton Council

One Page Back  Home

The Boy Scout Neckerchief

You new Scouts probably learned tonight that our troop neckerchief has other uses besides looking good and showing our troop's colors.  You found that it can be used in first aid, too.  Over the next few months, you'll find that the neckerchief has other uses, too. There's one use, though, that you may not think of - and that's to remind you of the Scout Oath.  The neckerchief is a triangle, and its' three corners should remind you of something you recently learned - our Scout Oath.  The Oath, you remember, has three corners, too - duty to God and country, duty to others and duty to self.  From now on, every time you put on your neckerchief, it should remind you of the things you pledge each time you repeat the Scout Oath.

The legend of the Eagle

Once a man who was walking through the woods happened upon a baby eagle that was orphaned.  The man took the eagle home and put it in the chicken pen with the chickens.  As the months went by, the eagle grew with the chickens, and began to believe he was a chicken.  He would peck at the ground like the chickens, cackle like the chickens, and like the chickens, never flew.

One day a naturalist happened to be walking by and saw the eagle in the chicken coop acting like a chicken.  He thought this strange, and went to talk to the man about the chicken.  The man told the story of finding the eagle and letting it grow up with the chickens.  The naturalist thought this was not a good situation, and convinced the man to let him teach the eagle to be an eagle.  

The next day the naturalist came, picked the eagle up from the chicken pen, held it up to the sky, and said, "You are an eagle.  You should be soaring like an eagle."  He let the eagle go, but all it did was go right back to scratching with the chickens.

The next day, the naturalist returned again, took the chicken to the roof of the man's house, and said, "You are an eagle.  You should be soaring through the sky like the proud bird you are.  Fly away!"  But when he let the eagle go, it just flapped back down to the ground to be with the chickens.

The next day he returned again, took the eagle, and climbed to the top of the highest mountain he could find.  He said, "You are an eagle.  You do not belong with chickens on the ground, you belong soaring free through the sky.  Go now, do what eagles do."

The naturalist held the eagle towards the sun.  The eagle looked up, spread his wings, and with a mighty cry was gone, soaring through the air like an eagle should.

Now, the eagle may have looked back at his time as a chicken with fondness.  He might have even gone back to the coop to visit his chicken friends from time to time.  But the eagle never again believed he was a chicken, and always ended up where he belonged, soaring through the sky.

Many of us are like the eagle.  Sometimes we put ourselves in positions that are below us, and we do not feel we can go back to being what we know we can be.  But like the eagle, we can remember how to become everything we are supposed to be.

The Bullfrog

Once there was a very large green bullfrog that lived in a modest sized pond. Even though many other animals and fish lived around this pond the bullfrog didn’t have any friends. You see, the friends he once had were gone. They were tired of his boasting and tried to stay out of his way. This situation changed when the geese began to migrate through the area. Two geese actually became his friends. They spent many a long day visiting, swimming and doing the things friends do. Then one day the two geese told the frog it was time for them to continue their migration. The frog was sad and asked if they could take him with them. He suggested that they let him climb on one of their backs and hang onto their neck. Both geese agreed that he was entirely too fat for one goose to carry. Further saddened, the frog began to think and finally came up with an idea. Listen, he said, How about we take a string and each of you take hold of a end with your mouth and bite down hard, then I will bite in the middle of the string and you can fly me between you. The geese pondered the idea and decided to give it a try. All were ready and the geese began to flap and run. The frog hopped along with the string in his mouth until he was lifted from the ground and was airborne. Oh what a feeling thought the frog. Onward they flew for days on end until they flew over a farmer out in his field.

The farmer looked up and upon seeing the geese and frog remarked, "My, my, a flying frog.  I wonder who taught those geese to fly such a big frog?"   Hearing this the frog said, "I DID!".   That night the farmer feasted on very large succulent frog legs.

Check your ego.  Don’t let it get so far out of control that you lose your friends or worse yet, end up on someone’s plate

Look for the Good

Once I was driving along on a road that I often took from my home.  As I came over a rise, I noticed a Police cruiser sitting beside the road.  Immediately I was stressing, hoping he would not catch me.  I was not really doing anything wrong, mind you, but my mind was racing anyway.  I glanced down at my speedometer, and noticed that I was doing 2 MPH under the speed limit.  I breathed a sigh of relief, but as I got closer to the cruiser, I still felt very anxious.

Just as I was starting to feel better, the cruiser door opened, and the officer inside got out and flagged me to the side of the road.  What had I done wrong?  I know I wasn’t speeding.  How could he pull me over?  I pulled over, and worried more and more as the officer approached.

I rolled down my window, and was ready to start protesting loudly, when the officer said, “excuse me sir.  I am really sorry to disturb you.  But I just had to stop you.  You are the first person all day to come over that rise doing the speed limit.  I just wanted to thank you for being responsible.”

I mumbled a relieved thanks, closed the window, and took off, carefully observing the speed limit, of course.

This incident got me thinking.  I knew I had not done anything wrong, but just the site of a police officer made me nervous.  It got me thinking about the Troop.  How often did a Scout see me coming and automatically assume I was going to reprimand him?  And the only reason was because I do it so much?

I decided right there and then that I was going to find good in what people do more than I found bad.  I was going to make sure that when people saw me coming, they would assume I had something good to say about them, not something bad.
You, as leaders of the Troop, leaders of your Patrols, and as members of the Troop, should think about the same thing.  Sure, pointing out when someone has made a mistake, and helping him to correct it is important.  But remember; find things to praise more than you find mistakes.  You will be a better leader, and everyone will work together better

Geese

We live in an area where geese are very common.  Seeing them fly in their “V” pattern is an awesome sight. There is an interdependence in the way geese function, and we can learn a lot by learning about them.

FACT: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the bird following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

FACT: Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone. It quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the "lifting power" of the bird immediately in front.

LESSON: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go.

FACT: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the point position.

LESSON: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership--people, as with geese, are interdependent with each other.

FACT: The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

LESSON: We need to make sure our "honking" from behind is encouraging, not something less helpful.

FACT: When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow the bird down to help and protect it. They stay with him the hurt bird until it is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own with another formation or catch up with their flock.

LESSON: If we have as much sense as the geese, we will stand by each other

The Important Things

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The students laughed as the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, and your children - anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. And the sand is everything else - The small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

No Burdon to Carry

There is an old story of two men. They were traveling through the Himalayas on a bitter cold evening. Night was coming and the one man said, "If we don't reach the city by nightfall, we are in danger of freezing to death." Just as they reached a narrow path, they heard the cries of a man who had fallen over the edge. One man said, "Do not stop. God has brought him to his fate. He must work it out himself."   The other man replied, "God sent me here to help my brother. I cannot abandon him." The first man went on and the second climbed down a steep path. When he found the man, he saw that his leg was broken and he could not walk. He made a sling from his blanket and tied the man to his back. He then began a body-torturing climb. He made his way through the deepening snow. It was dark and it was all he could do to follow the path. He persevered, and faint with exhaustion, he finally saw the lights of the city. As he moved toward the light, he stumbled for the first time and nearly fell. He did not stumble from exhaustion, but over an object. As he brushed the snow off the object, he looked down and saw that it was the body of the first man.

Years later when a student asked him, "What is life's most difficult task?" he replied, "To have no burden to carry.

Stupid Ideas?

I have been thinking about stupid ideas lately.  The idea that I have been thinking about is the guy that decided to slice bread.  You know the phrase, "The greatest thing since sliced bread"?  Now, understand that before they sliced bread it just came in a lump, usually called a loaf, and everyone either cut it or tore it to pieces to eat it.  I can just see the baker who, when trying to sell more bread than the baker down the street, decided to slice the bread for his customers.  Everyone must have thought he was nuts!  What a dumb idea!  Well, the ideas was so dumb that now it is hard to buy a loaf of bread that is not sliced.  Can you imagine the baker in the next town who started to see his bread sales slipping?  I bet he started slicing his bread pretty quickly!
Stupid ideas need a second thought.  Today’s stupid ideas might be the ideas that change the world tomorrow.  When you come up with an idea, don’t dismiss it without some thought.  It might be a better way to run the Patrol, or an idea to make the Troop work better, or a way to make a hard job easier.  At first, it might seem really stupid.  But it might be worth giving it a try.  If it does not work, that is OK.  If it does, you might have invented the best thing since sliced bread.

Check how you are doing

A friend of mine told me while he was at a shop the other day, a boy in his late teens made a phone call on the pay phone near by. My friend wasn't trying to listen in but couldn't help hear the conversation that went like this.

“Hello, I am calling to apply for your sales position. Oh you already have someone? Well, I work very hard and I can be trusted to be aggressive to make lots of sales. Oh you already have someone like that? OK, thank you for your time.”

My friend felt bad for the young man, and wanted to help by giving him some comforting words. So he walked up to the boy and said, “Excuse me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard what just happened, and I wanted to let you know that I am sure there are many other places that will gladly hire you.” The boy smiled and said, "Oh that was my boss, I was just checking to see how I was doing!"

Have you ever thought about checking to see how you are doing? Have you wondered if you called your parents to apply for the job as their son? What would they say? What if you called your Senior Patrol Leader and asked for your position in the Troop, or asked your Den Leader about a good Cub for the Den? Would he or she want to grab someone who really wants to do a good job, to do his best? A Scout is duty bound to do his best. Not just his best at Scout activities, but also his best with his family, with his schoolwork, and at church as well. A Scout is duty bound to do his best all the time and for everyone. It is important every once in a while to step back and look at what we do and how we do it. Are we doing our best?

Recognize your Brother

A wise Rabbi was once teaching a group of young men. During his lesson, he asked them a question.

“How can we tell when it is dawn? When the sun comes up, it gradually gets lighter and lighter, not light all at once. So how do you know the hour when night ends and the day begins?” he asked. The boys thought, and then one of them said, “I think it is when, from a distance, you can tell the difference between the farm dog and the sheep.”

“No, good try, but that is not it.” the Rabbi replied.

Another student said, “Is it when you can tell the difference between a fig tree and a grapevine?”

“No, that is still not right.” answered the Rabbi.

The students were all very puzzled. Finally they said, “Tell us, Rabbi. How can we tell when the day starts?”

The Rabbi answered, “When you can look into the face of a human being and have enough light to recognize your brother”, the wise teacher replied.

What did the wise Rabbi mean? The light he was talking about was the light of compassion, and that light lets us look at everyone and see that, no matter who they are, they are our brothers. No matter what color, no matter what religion, no matter where we come from, we are all a members of one big family. Until we understand that, we are in the dark. When you begin treating your fellow man like family, it is like dawn breaking on your life, and a new day begins.

Only One Good Turn Daily?

One day I was with a friend and I stopped to help a woman carry a heavy load to her car. Afterwards, my friend looked at me and joked, “Well, I guess you got your good turn in for the day! Now you can relax!”

Of course, he was just kidding, but it got me thinking. Is our goal as Scouts and Scout Leaders just to “Do a good turn daily” and then forget about our obligations for the rest of the day? If we do one good thing, should we ignore all the rest of the chances to do good things? It seems to me that, as Scouts, American citizens, and just plain good people, we should be going for more than that.

The Cub Scout Promise, Scout Oath and Law, and Venturing Oath all provide a guide for how we should act all the time, not just once a day, or when we feel like it. Remember that as Scouts we set the example for others for the right way to act, and we should do our best to be that example at all times. Think about that next time you do a good deed, and then go looking for the next one!

The Power of Words

Once a bunch of frogs were hopping along together. Suddenly, two of the frogs fell into a deep, dark, hole. They tried desperately to jump out of the hole, but it was no use. At first, the other frogs tried to encourage them, but after awhile, they became convinced that it was just no use. Finally, one of the frogs said, “Please. Stop trying. There is no way you are going to get out of that hole”. But the frogs in the hole kept jumping and jumping. “Please, we hate to see you suffer so. Just stop, give up, and lay down to die”. One of the frogs in the hole finally listened to what the other frogs were saying. He stopped trying, lay down, and died. But the second frog kept jumping and jumping. The frogs outside of the hole looked down and yelled things like, “give up”, “you can’t do it”, “why keep trying when you know you will fail”? Finally, with a mighty leap, the frog was able to make it up to the top of the hole and scrambled to safety. The other frogs gathered around and said, “Why did you keep trying even though we told you over and over to give up”? It turned out that the frog that fell in the hole was deaf, and he thought that the others were encouraging him to keep trying!

Very often our words have more power that we know. A kind word, or a word of encouragement, can be all it takes to help someone else do better than they ever thought they could. But words that discourage or hurt can make people give up and think they are no good. Remember to think before you speak, and always try to use your words to encourage others to do better.

Sticking to the Trail

Once, a long time ago, a hound was out with his master trailing a mountain lion. The hound came to a place where a fox had crossed the trail, and the hound decided to follow the fox instead of the lion. A short time later, a rabbit crossed the trail of the fox, and again the hound changed direction to follow the rabbit. Why should he chase a fox or a lion when a rabbit would be so much easier to catch? When the hunter finally caught up with his hound, the dog was barking at a small hole in the ground. The hound had brought to bay a field mouse instead of the mountain lion.

In life we all set off on paths to get to where we want to go. Those paths might include earning the Eagle or Ranger awards, going to college, building a career, or starting a family. To really succeed, we have to work hard on our trail to get the things we want. Along the way there are going to be things that seem easier, and sometimes they will tempt us off our path. Don’t be like the hound. Figure out what it takes to achieve your ambition and then get started. The best way to achieve anything in life is to set a true course for it and then stick to that trail

Honesty in Little Things

Once there was a King. He was getting older, and realized that he was going to have to choose one of his many children to take his place on the throne. So the King sent for all his children, and when they were gathered around him he gave each a seed and said, “Children, I can only choose one of you to take my throne when I am gone. Take this seed and plant it. Take care of it, nurture it, love it, and in one year bring your plants back to me. The one of you who grows the greatest plant will be the one who will be the new ruler.”

So the children went and planted their seeds. Now, one little boy was known to be the best gardener of all. He had a beautiful garden that he cared for, and everyone was always very impressed by the young boy’s skill. This boy took his seed and carefully prepared a pot with the best soil. He lovingly planted the seed in its new home. He watered it often, and cared for it well. But despite his best efforts, nothing grew. The boy tried everything he knew. He fertilized, he kept the seed warm, he even sang to the seed, but nothing happened.

Finally, after a year, the young boy came with the rest of his brothers and sisters before the King. As the King examined all the wonderful plants that his children had grown, his eyes fell on the empty pot of the young boy. The King went to him and said, “What has happened? You are the best gardener in the kingdom. Why didn’t your seed grow to a beautiful plant?” The young boy cast down his eyes and said, “Father, I truly do not know. I took the best care of this seed that I knew how, and it still did not grow. I am sorry that I disappointed you.” The King smiled and said, “Do not be despair, for you are the new King!” The rest of the children began to object. “Look at my plant!” “His plant did not even grow!” The King held up a hand for silence and said, “All the seeds that I gave out were baked in an oven so that would not grow. Yet all of you have fine, beautiful plants. How can this be?” The King looked down at the boy with the empty pot and said, “Of all my children, only you were honest enough to speak the truth. You shall be King!”

Remember, honesty in small things is no small thing. You never know when an act of true honesty will bring its rewards, and the seed of honesty planted today may grow into a beautiful thing someday.

Bad Wood

Every once in a while when you're using wood for a project, you'll find a piece of wood that looks great but that turns out to be weak and unreliable.

Maybe its center has been eaten away by insects. Or maybe it has natural splits inside that you can't see. Whatever the cause of the weakness, the wood always looks great from the outside, but breaks under the slightest pressure. How did it get that way? Sometimes wood goes bad when the tree it comes from grows next to a tree that is already diseased or infested with bugs. Just being close to an infected or diseased tree in enough to make the wood in another tree unusable.

Some people are like that bad piece of wood. They look great on the outside. They may have appealing personalities, the kind of guys and girls you think you would like to know. But when you do get to know them better, you find that they're like a defective wood, weak inside. They don't have the strength of character to resist things that they know are wrong, and chances are they will want you to do those things, too. And, like the good tree that goes bad, just being around them can cause you to go bad also.

Choose the people you spend time with carefully. If you find they look great on the outside, but on the inside are weak, think about the bad wood, and stay away. Don’t let their bad insides turn your insides bad too.

Donkey in the Well

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally the farmer decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway, and it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. So he invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to throw dirt down into the well right on top of the poor donkey.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. After a while the sounds from the well quieted down and the farmer, thinking the poor animal was buried and dead, looked down the well to see what was going on. He was astonished at what he saw! With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake the dirt off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone, a chance to learn for the future, and to build personal character. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

Feathers on the Wind

There was once a man who said some things about a friend that were not true and made his friend look bad. He did it to show off, but afterwards he felt ashamed and went to his friend and apologized, which was good. Still, as he walked around town, he could hear the things he said being repeated. He really felt bad, so he went to the wisest man in the community to try and find a solution.

"How can I undo this terrible wrong that I did", he asked the wise man. The wise man thought for a moment and said, "Bring me a feather pillow." The man did so and quickly returned. "Now go to the hilltop outside of town, slit open the pillowcase, and shake it until all of the feathers are gone." Again, the man quickly did as he was instructed. The wind was strong at the top of the hill, and the feathers were blown far and wide over the entire countryside. When he returned to the wise man, the wise man said, "Now go and pick up every single feather and place them all back into the pillowcase." The man replied, "But that's impossible. There is no way that I can find all those feathers and put them back." "Indeed," answered the wise man, "and there is no way to gather back the words that you cast into the air either."

And so it is. Once we speak, we can never gather the words back into the pillowcase. So it is important to think about what we are going to say before we cast our words into the wind.

Under God

There is a lot to think about after the recent decision by a court that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional. Some of us get angry that we cannot be reverent. Some of us are disappointed that the court would say that about something so dear to us. Some of us wonder if we have to take the word “God” off of all our money, out of all our documents, and all our great country’s history. The questions that come up are really hard to answer, and the answers are even harder because this is such an emotional subject. But there are some things for you Scouts to think about that may help you learn something about our country and how it works. Talk with your parents, teachers, and leaders about what the ruling means, how it came about, and what happens next. Find out what “separation of church and state” means, and talk with your parents, teachers, and leaders about it. If you think it the decision was wrong, find out how can you make a difference. Write a letter to your government representative and let him or her know how you feel. Remember that in America, our government is us, all of us. “We the People”. If we do not take our special responsibility as American citizens to be a part of our government, than we are not doing our part to make America great. As Scouts, we learn about being good citizens all the time. This is your chance to learn something more about what that means, to get involved, and to make a difference.

Work Together

Once, long ago, there lived an emperor that had three sons. The emperor was very, very proud of his sons except for one thing. They could not work together. Whenever they tried they would fight to be first, try to give the hardest work to one of the others, and generally just not get along. This went on for many years until the brothers were grown and the emperor was beginning to think about who would succeed him.

One day the emperor called his sons before him, handed each a small stick and said, “My Sons, take these sticks and break them over your knee.” The young men each took a stick and easily broke it in two. The emperor then took several sticks and tied them in a tight bundle. He handed the bundle to the first son and said, “Now, do the same.” The first son took the bundle, but as hard as he tried he could not break it. Soon he gave up and handed the bundle to the next son, who tried as hard as he could, but soon gave up. The same thing happened to the third son, who after giving up said, “Father, why have you given us this task that can not be done?” The emperor said, “Like the separate sticks you are each easy to break when you are alone. Like the bundle of sticks, you are stronger when you work together. When you are together, tightly bound by friendship, kindness, and respect, there is nothing you cannot do.” From that moment forward the brothers always worked together, helping each other with their tasks, treating each other with respect, and being stronger because of it. The emperor stepped down from the throne, and the brothers shared the seat bringing many years of happiness and prosperity to the country they ruled.

The Five P's

Have you ever heard of the “Five P’s”? Probably not, but I remember them as often as I can, especially when I am putting together plans for a campout, meeting, or other event. They remind me that things don’t just happen, you have to take time to do them right. And it does not matter what you are doing, the right amount of time spent preparing, making lists, ensuring everyone knows their jobs, and paying special attention to details gives me the best chance of making things happen just like I want them to happen.

So, what are the Five P’s?

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Remember the Five P’s whenever you have a job to do, no matter how simple, and you will see everything you do comes out better and is easier.

The Map and Compass

With a map, a compass, and a little knowledge, I can find my way anywhere. I‘m not bragging. With the same tools and a little practice you can do the same thing. A compass helps us to orient the map and find our bearings while the map identifies landmarks that we can recognize and measure. Many of my fellow leaders have followed me right past the trail we were supposed to take, but we eventually got to the right place by getting out the map and compass and using the skills that we have practiced. A map is like the Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. The compass is like the 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. We use the map (the Scout Law) as a guide for our lives and the compass (the Scout Oath) to keep ourselves oriented. Once of the reasons I like Boy Scouts is because it is one program that requires the adult leaders to take the same oath and live by the same law that the Scouts do. You know, it is very true that if a boy lives up to the Scout Oath and Scout Law, he is bound to grow to be a good man. It is also true that If a man lives up to the Scout Oath and Scout Law, he is bound to grow to be a better man.

Throw Those Starfish

Once a man was walking alone along a long beach. It was low tide, and as he walked he noticed that there were hundreds of starfish that had been left high and dry as the tide went out. The starfish were unable to get themselves back to water, and were dying.

As he walked, he noticed up ahead there was a little boy standing on the beach. As he got closer, he saw the boy was doing something near the water’s edge, so he stopped to watch. The man saw that the boy would bend down, pick something up, and throw it out into the water. The boy did this over and over. Curious, the man continued walking. As he got closer, he saw that the boy was bending down to pick up starfish, and then was tossing them as hard as he could back into the sea. The man continued walking towards the boy until he was close enough and then he said.

“Hello, little boy.”

The little boy stopped, looked up and said “Hello,” and then continued picking up starfish and throwing them into the sea.

The man watched for a few moments more and then said, “Little boy. I hate to say this, but you are wasting your time.”

The little boy stopped, looked up, and said “Why?” “Because”, said the man, “look around. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of starfish lying on this beach. Most of them are going to dye. You can’t pick them all up and throw them back into the ocean. What difference do you think you are making with just the few you are saving?”

The boy stopped for a moment, and then reached down, picked up another starfish, and threw it out into the water. He then looked back up at the man and said, “I made a difference to that one!”

Sometimes, it is hard to do little things that are good because we start to wonder what difference we are making. How can such a small thing really matter? Remember, even the smallest act of kindness makes a difference to someone, and when many, many small acts of kindness are all counted together, they can make a big difference.

The Candle

A candle seems like a simple thing. You light it, and it slowly burns down to nothing. But while it is burning it does some pretty incredible things. It gives off heat and light that can be used to find your way in the dark or bring heat where you need it. Once candle is dim, but if its flame is used to light other candles, the light they give off together can be bright, beautiful, and inspiring.

Your life is much like the life of a candle. You are lit for only a short time, and as you go you slowly burn down until you are no more. What you do with your flame while you have it is up to you. You can hide it so that it never does any good, or you can use it to light other flames along the way. You will find that if you help to light others flames, together those flames will be bright, beautiful, and inspiring.

Nice Car

Upon graduation from college a young man received a gift from his older brother. It was a shiny brand new car. The car of his dreams! One morning as he approached the car he saw a young lad of about 12 years peering through the windows into the car. "Is this your car?" the lad asked when he noticed the man. "Yes it is!" the man responded! "Wow! This is a nice car!" remarked the lad, "How much did it cost?" "I don't know!" answered the man. "It's your car, but you don't know how much it cost?" exclaimed the young lad. "No," stated the man, "you see, my brother bought it for me!"

The lad looked at the car for a few more minutes, and then said, “I wish...I wish...I wish…” The man thought to himself, “I bet he is going to say he wished he had a car like this!” Finally, the lad finished his sentence. "I wish… I was like that brother!"

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what we want that we loose track of what is really important. Generosity is one of those really important things, and avoiding being greedy is another. How much better a world would it be if we all thought that giving something away was more important than having something? What can you do to be more like that brother?

My Canoe!

A young Indian brave was busy at work carving a new canoe out of a log. As he worked, members of the tribe passed by, and everybody had a piece of advice to offer the young man.

"I think you are making your canoe too wide," one of them said. The young brave, wishing to show respect for the advice of an elder, narrowed down the canoe.

A little later, another warrior stopped by. "I'm afraid you are cutting the stern too full," he said. Again, the young brave listened to his elder and cut down the stern.

Very soon, yet another member of the tribe stopped, watched awhile, and then said, "The bow is too sheer." The young brave accepted this advice as well and changed the line of the bow.

Finally the canoe was complete and the young brave launched it. As soon as it hit the water, it capsized. Laboriously he hauled it back onto the beach. Then he found another log and began to work anew.

Very soon, a member of his tribe stopped by to offer some advice, but this time the young brave was ready. "See that canoe over there?" he asked, pointing to the useless craft on the beach. "That is everybody's canoe." Then he nodded at the work in progress. "This one," he said, "is my canoe"

Many times others will want to help and give advice. It is good to listen to the advice of others, especially if they are more experienced than you. But always remember it is OK to listen to advice, politely thank the person who gave it, and then decide if it fits with what you want to do. There is an old saying that too many cooks ruin the soup. That means that too many people giving advice can actually do more harm than good. Realizing this can be a hard thing because it is easy to think you know it all and not take good advice. A wise person considers the advice they are given carefully, and recognizes when to use it, and when to go your own way.

Warning!  Warning!

Warning! I just read some information on the Internet that I feel I must let you all know about. Did you know how bad bread is for our families, our country, and our world? Please, avoid bread whenever possible! Here are some statistics.

 - 95% of the people arrested for violent crimes are known to have eaten bread within 24 hours of their crime.

- Bread is addictive! If you give a person bread and water for several days, and then take away the bread, within hours they will do anything they can to get at the bread!

- During the Middle Ages, when people were known to cook bread in their homes, the instances of disease, childhood deaths, and fatal accidents are known to have been much higher.

Please, for your own good, remove all the bread from your house immediately!

Ok, so you all probably figured out that these so called “facts” are silly. While it may be true about crime and eating bread, bread does not cause people to commit crimes, it just happens to be something that they eat often. These statistics are pretty far fetched, and so are easy to see how false they are. Some statistics are not so easy to see through. Someday someone that seems nice and you want to trust, say on an Internet web page, or a TV infomercial, may give you “facts” to convince you that something is true. Those facts might not be quite right. The idea is to be a skeptic, a person who always thinks carefully about what they are being told, and double-check the facts yourself. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking questions, and if the information is really true, then no one should be afraid to answer your questions.

Why Are They That Size?

(Editor’s note: I took the liberty of checking out this story. The Urban Legends website confirms that it is at least mostly true, even if just a long list of coincidences.)

The US standard railroad gauge (with between the two rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England. And English expatriates built the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Why did "They" use that gauge then? Because the people built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons that used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?

Well if they tried to use any other spacing. The wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So, who built those old rutted roads?

The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And what about the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to mach for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two warhorses.

Thus we have the answer to the original question. Now for the Twist.

There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horse's behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on it's launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are Solid Rocket Boosters or SRBs. Thiokol at their at their factory in Utah makes the SRBs. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horse's behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the with of a Horse's rear.

What is the moral of this long story? If someone had just asked “Why?” many, many years ago, the standard for rail systems, and the design of the Space Shuttle, might not have had to conform to a strange specification.

Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question except for the question that is not asked.

The Eagle and the Wolf

There is a great battle that rages inside me. One side is a soaring Eagle. Everything the Eagle stands for is good and true and beautiful, And it soars above the clouds. Even though it dips down into the valleys, It lays its eggs on the mountains. The other side of me is the howling Wolf, and that raging, howling wolf represents the worst that is in me. He eats upon my downfalls and justifies himself by his presence in the pack. Who wins this great Battle? The one I feed.

We all must make the choice of feeding the Eagle in us, or feeding the Wolf in us. The Scout Law is a guide to feeding the Eagle and making us honorable people. Which are you going to feed, the Eagle, or the Wolf?

Service to Others

Do you know there are people out there that have chosen to live their lives in service to others? Think about that. Most of us go to school or work everyday and never really have to worry about who we are going to have to help or if we will be alive at the end of the day. Take a moment and consider what it must be like to get up every morning knowing that your job is to risk your life for others. That is what the people that protect our lives everyday do. They run into burning buildings, chase criminals, and put themselves in harms way. That is there job.

When you think about it that way, “Do a Good Turn Daily” just does not seem so hard, does it?

One Page Back  Home