• Why Is Advancement Important, Anyway?

    Why Is Advancement Important, Anyway?

    This week at our Blue & Gold Banquet six young men from Pack 55 earned the Arrow of Light Award and crossed over to a great troop here in Dallas.  As we set up the Parish Hall for the big event, I thought about why our boys advance at all.

    How Far Is It to Port Gibson?

    My thoughts took me to my days as a Boy Scout in Pascagoula.  As Troop 223’s Scoutmaster back then, Mr. Holliman made sure we were in a tent or on a trail every month.  On one of those trips he handed me a list of towns from Pascagoula to our trailhead near Port Gibson, where we planned to hike the next day.  By the light of our church van’s dashboard I checked off each city as we passed through:

      ✓   Gautier – 6
            Ocean Springs – 14
            Biloxi – 8

    For the next few hours I focused on each task at hand — the trip to the next town on the list — with only an occasional focus on where we were ultimately headed.  When we got to our campsite I realized our drive had felt like the shortest ever, and that this was Mr. Holliman’s plan all along.

    It took me a few more years to realize that there was a bigger lesson in there, too.

    A Series of Challenges

    The Circle 10 Council and Scouting.org tell us how Scouting uses a series of smaller goals, successes, and rewards to motivate our boys to greater achievements:

    Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

    With this explanation, I now understand why our boys earn belt loops and beads and the other steps along the Cub Scout Advancement Trail — smaller successes directed toward greater achievements help each boy learn to set goals, to manage projects, and to accomplish what he has set out to do.  And that’s a good thing.

    Thank you, Mr. Holliman.