Scoutmaster Minutes Starting with the Letter "L"

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A Lesson in Trust

This is a "true" story I related to our Scouts.

It seems that before the first man walked on the moon, NASA found an area of New Mexico where the topography was similar to the surface of the moon. They decided that it would be a good idea to take the astronauts and the lunar lander there to check out the equipment. They arrived at the area and unloaded all their gear. During the second day while working with the equipment they noticed a flock of sheep on the horizon. As it drew closer they could see several dogs herding the flock and two Navaho Indians walking behind. The Scientists knew that they were Navaho because the reservation was near by. The Two Navaho Indians set down on the ridge and watched them work for several hours.

Seeing the Navahos watching them, two of the scientist decided to go talk to them. After walking up the ridge they soon discovered that the old Navaho could only speak in his native tongue but his son could speak English. The old man said several things and his son translated, "he says, what are those things down there?" The scientist explained that they were men in space suits and that they would be traveling to the moon by rocket and once there they would get out and be the first men to walk upon the moon. The old man nodded and said a few more words that the son translated "so, they will walk upon the moon?" And the scientist confirmed. The old man nodded and said a few more words. The son said, "he wants to know if he can send a message to the moon with these astronauts." At this the scientist became very excited and searched their gear until they found a tape recorder. The old Navaho recorded his message. The scientist asked the boy to translate but he wouldn't.

They worked about a month next to the reservation but every time they asked someone to translate the message they would listen to it, smile and shake their head no. Finally they found a Professor of Native American studies that agreed to translate the message in exchange for some funding on a research project. He listened to the tape and smiled. He said, "this message is a warning, it says, Look out for these guys, they are coming to steal your land."

You may wonder why I told this story as my Scoutmasters Minute. Our program element this month is Leadership and the reason the old Navaho sent this message was because he did not trust the white man. Trust is a very important part of Leadership. If you cannot trust your leader or he cannot trust you, your patrol will not be very effective. Trust is also very fragile, it takes only one action on your part to destroy the trust others have in you. Often times when trust is breached it can never be rebuilt. A Scout is Trustworthy. And now may the Master of all Scouts be with us till we meet again. Goodnight Scouts!

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Lessons From The Geese

by Robert McNeish, Associate Superintendent of Baltimore Public Schools

We live in an area where geese are very common. We see them coming in the Fall and leaving early Spring. Their migration is an awesome sight.

There is an interdependence in the way geese function.

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. <P> <DT> 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 to follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it 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.

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Living What You Believe

During World War II there was a young man from Virginia named Desmond Doss who was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and he firmly believed that it was wrong to kill another human. He wanted to serve his country and he had no problem dying for his country but he would not carry a gun or take a life even to save his own. When Desmond Doss left for boot camp his wife gave him a small bible to carry with him. As his first day in boot camp was ending he did what he always did which was to get down on his knees and pray at his bedside. The other recruits upon seeing this greeted him with a flurry of name-calling and obscenities and threw boots at him in ridicule. His commanding officers were worried that in the heat of battle American lives might be lost because of his unwillingness to use a gun. They made Doss a medic. About nine months later they were in the pacific and had climbed up a steep cliff onto a plateau when the Japanese opened fire upon them. Dozens of men were killed and wounded. The shooting was so intense that the Americans had to pull back leaving the dead and wounded behind. Everyone that could escape over the cliff did, except for one lone medic named Desmond Doss. Under constant enemy fire Doss treated the wounded and made a stretcher and tied ropes to it and one by one lowered the wounded over the side of the cliff to safety. Doss worked throughout the afternoon and evening treating and lowering the injured soldiers. When Doss finally came over the side of the cliff he had single handedly saved seventy men. Men, who some months earlier had ridiculed him and thrown boots at him as he prayed, now owed their lives to him. Over the next several days, Desmond Doss risked his life again and again to save lives. Some time later Doss was treating the wounded on a beach when shrapnel struck him in his legs. He was being carried to safety when he ordered the men carrying him to put him down and place another man on the stretcher who was in worse condition. While Doss lay on the ground waiting for another stretcher a sniper shot him, shattering his arm. Rather than risk someone else's safety to help him he tied his shattered arm to a gunstock and crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to an aid station. After he was in a hospital he discovered that he had lost the bible his wife had given him, somewhere on the battlefield. He sent back word to his fellow soldiers that if they found it to please send it to him. Upon hearing of his lost bible his entire battalion got on their hands and knees and sifted their fingers through sand, mud and water until one of them finally found it. They dried and cleaned it as best they could and sent it to him. Desmond Doss spent five full years in hospitals recovering from the injuries he received in the war. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nations highest military award, for his heroism on the battlefield. The Medal of Honor was presented to Desmond Doss by U.S President Harry Truman who said during the ceremony "I would rather have that medal than be President". A monument was later erected on the plateau where he saved seventy men from death to further honor him. He stayed true to his faith and never carried a gun or took a life. As of the writing of this story Desmond Doss is still alive and remains a living legend of W.W.II.

I hope that each of you has a belief in God and that each of you is as strong in your faith as Desmond Doss was in his. Many people say what they believe but few live what they believe.

Goodnight gentlemen!

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