The point of the Scout Law to be highlighted this month is a Scout is thrifty. A Scout works to pay his way. He uses time, property, and natural resources wisely.
How does “CUBSTRUCTION” relate to this point of the Scout Law? Part of being thrifty is avoiding waste and using resources wisely. It is important to learn how to conserve and repurpose the many items we use every day to help our environment. We can also use our resources in innovative ways for fun and adventure. (March 2016 Pack Resource Sheet)
The suggested theme for March is “Cubstruction” and the highlighted point of the Scout Law is “Thrifty.” At our February Roundtable, I began the Commissioner Minute by asking for synonyms for the word thrifty. Several were offered, including cheap, frugal, sparing, provident, careful, and economical. A thesaurus lists other options such as miserly, prudent, stingy, chintzy, conserving, penny-pinching, tight, scrimpy, and mean. The first word that came to my mind and also the first one suggested at our Roundtable was cheap. It is interesting to note how many of those synonyms have a negative connotation and yet we are describing one of the twelve points of the Scout Law, a point that is considered a value.
Why is that? Many of us would look at our modern, consumer-driven, throw-away, society as the prominent reason. Every day we are bombarded with ads telling us that happiness, convenience and prosperity are easily obtained by acquiring more and bigger and better stuff. Planning, saving, and preserving are looked on as outdated principles and certainly not fun.
But just as a “scout is thrifty” a scout leader should be thrifty. To accomplish this in the best way, we need to look at it in a positive light. Cheap is not the synonym we desire here. We need to be sure that we, as leaders, never cheapen the Scouting experience. We need to make sure that we follow the procedures established by the BSA and our chartered organizations. We need to ensure that we do our best to prepare meaningful den and pack meetings. While we do have some latitude to adjust requirements to a boy’s capacity we need to make sure that we don’t “dumb down” the program. It needs to challenge him in order for him to derive the desired benefit.
I think “frugal” is a much better synonym to describe an effective Scout leader. We need to know exactly what resources we have available to us. These can include BSA manuals, online training courses, roundtables, and other trainings such as Akela’s Council. Our resources are also the leftover supplies that always seem to gather in the back of some closet at the church or in a previous leader’s basement or even in our neighborhood recycle bins. Some of our best resources are the people in our wards and neighborhoods, and the parents of our Scouts. A thrifty leader is always aware of these valuable resources and looks for ways to use them.
A thrifty, frugal leader is also one who values time, their own and that of the Scouts and their families. This leader plans well in advance, they maintain a consistent calendar and start and end meetings punctually. They have effective communication. In short, when we are thrifty, we “Do Our Best” with what we’ve got.
If I were to ask for a synonym for “Cubstruction”, I think a likely answer would be “destruction”. Yes, 7-10 year-old boys do have a well deserved reputation for destroying not only physical things, but also the best laid meeting plans. But as leaders our primary focus isn’t on what Cubs can construct but rather on constructing Cubs. All of our training, and planning, and meeting, and allocating isn’t about activities or awards. It about building Cubs into responsible men who will one day lead our families, churches, businesses and governments.
President Thomas S. Monson, speaking at the 75th anniversary of Scouting in the LDS church said, “Tonight I am grateful for that spirit which you men and women bring to Cubbing. It is far better to build boys than to mend men” (Ensign April 1988, News of the Church). When this is our goal, we can’t afford to be cheap but we must be thrifty. Thank you for all that you invest into the Scouting program and into the boys whom you serve! The returns on that investment are incalculable.