Thursday, August 4, 2011

As a Venturer, I promise... to seek... adventure in our world.

Most people are familiar with the Scout Oath. Slightly less well known is the oath Venturers take upon joining a crew:
As a Venturer, I promise to do my duty to God and help strengthen America, to help others, and to seek truth, fairness, and adventure in our world.
There is also a Venturing Code, which expands these ideas a bit. It talks about acquiring the "Venturing attitude that seeks the truth in all things and adventure on the frontiers of our changing world."

Now, I haven't been as good as I should have been about getting my young men to recite the Venturing Oath at each meeting. We've been hit and miss and best. So I was perhaps a bit surprised when one of my young men used it on me last night.

We went down to the community recreation center to do swim tests for an upcoming activity. We did the test first thing and then spent the rest of the night having fun. We had some swimming races. We went down the water slide (which is a lot faster than it looks). And then someone suggested the high dive.

I hate to admit this but, I'm mildly afraid of heights. Jumping off the high dive was not my idea of fun. And at first, I resisted. I didn't have to dive, they said--just jump. Still, I resisted. Then this young man (Eagle Scout, Silver Award recipient, OA member, and BSA lifeguard) told me that I had made a promise to "seek adventure in our world." And there was no better place to begin than with the high dive.

What do you say to that? If I, as their adult leader won't live up to the ideals how can I expect them to. So, I climbed the ladder, walked out onto the diving board (only mildly freaking out on the inside) and jumped.

In a previous post I mentioned a quote from Robert Baden-Powell: "The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself." I have long thought it was important to participate with the young men, and take part in their activities. You can't just stand on the sidelines and watch. You have to jump in with them.

This experience reminded me of another point. We sometimes have to try new things. Sometimes they are things we don't really want to do. The experience of trying new things can be scary. It can be unpleasant. But it can also open up to us a world of adventure. And that can be wonderful.

I think one of the unwritten purposes of Scouting is to give young men experience in a wide variety of activities. To open them up to new possibilities and new adventures. As leaders, we shouldn't be afraid of suggesting and encouraging new activities. We should lovingly encourage and persuade our youth to try new things. To seek "adventure in our world."

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