by: Aaron Abbott on
I attended the Boy Scouts of America Golden Eagle Breakfast last week, where former Braves pitcher John Smoltz spoke. The other featured speaker was the “Chief Scout Executive” of the Boy Scouts, Robert Mazzuca, who oversees around 40,000 paid staff, 1.2 million adult volunteers, and 4.1 million scouts nationwide. [You may be wondering why a mother of daughters (former Girl Scouts) was invited to this event – it’s because my search marketing firm Prominent Placement is a “chartered organization” (business sponsor) of a Venturing crew. If you haven’t heard of Venturing, you’re not alone. Apparently, back in the mid-90’s, the Boy Scouts were losing members as boys got into high school. Research came to the startling conclusion that what teenage boys like are (a) girls and (b) extreme sports. So Venturing was born – young men and women ages 14-20 join a “crew” and can undertake limitless activities, ranging from sailing ships in the ocean and climbing mountains to snowboarding and scuba diving.] Both John and Robert hit similar themes in their very inspiring talks. They both referenced the Boy Scout Oath, which for those of you (like me) who are unfamiliar with it, states: 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. Now, the Boy Scouts of America marked their 100th anniversary this past Monday, February 8. Reading the oath above, it does sound a bit old-fashioned, and some may wonder if it’s relevant in today’s world. John Smoltz and Robert Mazzuca made the very compelling case that it’s more critical than ever. Physically strong: In a time where childhood obesity is at a record high, and with our children predicted to be the first generation to live shorter lifespans than their parents due to obesity, physical fitness is clearly very necessary. Mentally awake: Our world is full of distractions, particularly the electronic kind. Robert said that the new scouting uniforms include a pocket designed for iPhones and iPod Touches. He had received some flak for that, but he thinks it’s important to evolve along with our kids and communicate with them the way they prefer to communicate or we’ll lose them. The Boy Scouts have turned their handbook into an app so that scouts can check their phones to see if that plant is edible or that snake is poisonous. Morally straight: I don’t think this one needs much explanation or convincing arguments as to its importance. John Smoltz, who was not a Boy Scout but does rely greatly on his faith, talked about the myriad temptations available to a Major League Baseball player, and said that he wouldn’t have been able to stay morally straight if he hadn’t had an upbringing that emphasized hard work and doing the right thing. He said he doesn’t want to be remembered for his baseball stats, but for the good works he has done for others, including having his own foundation and starting a school. I am certainly an enthusiastic member of our fast-paced, high tech society, but as a parent, I agree that many so-called “old fashioned” values are more important than ever for our kids.