Sunday, January 02, 2005

David B. Haight on Scouting-

Those were exciting years in my life. When you’re moving out
of little boyhood and by the time you become a deacon you’re becoming a
man. I was a man around our house with my mother. My mother would
remind me that her husband was dead and my older brothers had left the
coop. You know you leave little towns to live. So I’m the head man. And
I had the chores to do and the lawns to take care of and the garden to
take care of and we sold milk to the neighbors and to deliver the milk
to the neighbors. But I had, by the time I’m twelve years old, I have
responsibilities and accountability at twelve years old. We didn’t have
drugs. We didn’t have automobiles. We didn’t have motorcycles. We were
out in a little country town where you make your own fun. You
manufacture them. You learn to play ‘kick the can’, and ‘run sheepy
run’, when in the evening under the light from the streetlight, the
electric lightpole, you have your own fun. But all of a sudden, but in
that process you’re developing responsibility because my mother would
say to me, “David, you’re the man of the house now.” Twelve years old.
And so, the cows have to be milked, the pig fed, the eggs gathered from
the chickens, and deliver the milk and we don’t have separaters -- it’s
all raw milk. But it was the image of my mother trusting me that was a
great influence in my life because I knew that she believed in me. And
so that I would not do, I wouldn’t do something that I thought would
make her disappointed in me because of trust that she had in me.

Anyway, scouting comes along. And so, you’re a tenderfoot scout for a
year back in those years. And you really get into it and you learn the
details and you read all that you can about Ernest Thompson Seaton
and Dan Baird who introduced scouting into America. Scouting
started in India when the British army was there in occupation in India
years ago. They didn’t have anything to do so they developed things.
Scouting came out of it. Well, then scouting came to America. The point
I’m making is that you’re a tenderfoot for a year. You’re a second
class scout for a year. You’re a first class scout for a year and then
you go to work on merit badges. Now rather than do it the way we did it
back in those days. Now a smart boy can come along at twelve years old
and become a tenderfoot scout and in a week he’s a second class scout
and another week he’s a first class scout and then he starts getting
merit badges and so he’s run the gamut. He’s become a scout and now he
loses interest in it because we let him go through it so fast. Go
through it.

The idea of scouting fits into the Church I think just like a glove. As
an example, I remember the Scout Oath. I remember, “Upon my honor I
will do my best.” I learned this 85 years ago. “Upon my honor I will do
my best: First, to do my duty to God and my country and obey the scout
law; Second, to help other people at all times; Third, to keep myself
physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” You can take
the gospel message, the plan of salvation, and almost wrap your arms
around the Scout Oath. Or the Scout Oath wrapped around the other way.
Because it talks about “Upon my honor I’ll do my best to do my duty to
God, my country, be loyal, and the Scout laws of being trustworthy,
loyal, friendly, courteous, obedient, thrifty, clean, brave, and
reverent.” All of those things. And so, scouting when I was a young
deacon and teacher became part of my life along with learning about the
Priesthood on Sunday and during the week we would, our scoutmaster was
a blacksmith. We’d go down to the blacksmith shop and watch him fix
those shoes and bend them to fit a horse’s on a horse’s foot. But he
was our scoutmaster. It all came to good. It all
came about in a way that helped me to want to be an honorable
individual because of the Scout Oath and the Priesthood.
And so you’re a deacon, and so we would sweep
the meeting house out. We would fill the coal buckets by the little
stoves. We didn’t have central heat in them. We would rake the walk,
the gravel walks, going into the meeting house. We had duties and
things to do at Church or with my mother at home, taking care of the
cows and taking care of the garden and taking care of mowing the lawn
and so on. And so I was occupied. We didn’t have an automobile. I
didn’t have a bicycle. We walked to things. But you made your own fun.
But you enjoyed it as you went along. But you would be, as I’ve watched
scouting through the years, we’ve let scouting become a monster and you
can go through scouting in a weekend and then you look around and say,
“Now, what else is there for me to do?” -- Because we digest it so fast
that we miss a lot of the good that’s in it because you go through it
so fast. You want to get to the dessert right fast you know.

Anyway, you were talking about scouting. But scouting became a great
part of my life, because it was so compatible with the Priesthood. But
scouting was the activity. So we’d hitch up a wagon or a buggy and go
up in the mountains and go on little camping trips and so on in a crude
way back in those days. But it was fun and sport and you enjoyed every
bit of it. But you would have to do it yourself. But you would develop
ingenuity. You would develop ways of solving problems. And you would
begin to understand the first great commandment – is to love Deity with
all your heart, might, mind and strength. And the second one is like
the first one – you love your neighbor as much as you love this little
guy. And so you learn an association with people because that’s the
second great commandment. And so life is one of where we work with
people. We learn to communicate. To learn the language of whatever land
you’re living in, communicate, discuss things, learn the golden rule --
treat other people the way you would want to be treated -- but scouting
all fits into it. Now, I see your young people say “Oh, they’re not
involved in scouting.  It doesn’t hold magic for them anyway anymore.”
It’s because we go through it too fast. We zip through it. In the early
days of scouting, I think you had to be a tenderfoot a year. And then
you would qualify to be a second class scout. And then a first class
scout. And when I got a first class badge and put it on a scout hat
that I won because I had the cleanest yard in town. I won a uniform,
first one we’d ever seen. And I put the first class badge on that
Northwest Mounted Police stiff hat, and I’d go downtown to get the mail
for my mother and when I’d wear that hat, General Eisenhower couldn’t
have been prouder than I was when he had 5 stars on his shoulder, but I
had that first class badge on my hat. But that was, you’d stay in it
long enough to really understand what it’s all about. And try to get
the good out of it. Now we ruin it.

You destroy the value of it. You destroy it because you
haven’t had time to think about it very much. I remember I only I had a
merit badge in swimming. And they were just beginning to come out with
merit badges. This would be when, you know, when scouting, we would
select a name for our patrol and you would learn to do the call of the
bird that used to be in there. And but you would take time to do those
things. Today, we zip through them so fast. I think that we’ve ruined
scouting just by making what was a three or four year process, do it in
a weekend.

Our sons all went through scouting
because it was so important to me when I was growing up. But I don’t
think they enjoyed it as much as I did. It was brand new to me. It was
a brand new program on the horizon and the Church was just getting into
it. Oscar Kirkham in Salt Lake City was the number one Boy Scout in the
Church and he used to go around to Stake Conferences and wear his scout
uniform and wear it to Church. And, but he was a great scouter, and a
great enthusiastic boys men. We’ve, we go through it so fast, we don’t
get deep enough in the well to understand the good that’s in it.