- You lean across the finish line winning the race, while the other guy loses.
- You get first chair trumpet in band and the other guy gets second chair.
- You make the varsity wrestling team, but the other guy in your weight doesn't.
- You sell the most popcorn and get the top-seller prize, and the other guy ...
- Looking out my window, I see first graders lining up for the bus. They run to be first in line, sometimes even getting upset and crying if they are last.
- Driving through town, I see people floor it so they can get past one more car and be first at a stoplight.
Competition is a key part of our society. There should only be one gold medal in an Olympic race; there needs to be state football champions; we need to have records for speed, strength, jumping, throwing, and all those ways we measure our physical abilities. I think this is good competition and healthy, helping us learn to push ourselves to excel and to understand that not everyone gets a soccer trophy in every endeavor.
We do seem to create unnecessary and unhealthy competition in many areas, resulting in a majority of losers and a select few winners, or at leaast a whole lot more stress when it really doesn't need to be that way. Does it matter if we win the church league softball trophy? Do we need to have the most Christmas lights in the neighborhood, or the biggest jack-o-lantern, or the best groomed lawn?
One of the aspects of Scouting I really like and try my best to promote and protect is that every scout can be a winner. It doesn't mean there needs to be a loser on the other side of the field - it just means he won. He met the mark. He set a goal and did it. He pushed himself and accomplished something.
The proponent and opponent in Scouting are the same - the scout. He drives himself to better his skills, develop his abilities, and overcome his weaknesses. There are some specifically measured marks in Scouting, such as completing 6 merit badges to reach Star rank or perform at least six hours of service to reach Life. But, the majority are subjective and relative to the scout's abilities and aptitudes, such as showing improvement for Tenderfoot or demonstrating scout spirit.
Can there be only one Eagle Scout in a troop? No, they can all earn that rank.
Can there by only one 50-Miler recipient, or World Conservation award, or National Honor patrol? No, everyone that sets the goal, completes the work, and turns in the papers gets the recognition.
These are all just recognition of accomplishments. There really are no 'winners' or 'losers' in Scouting. That is because there is no ultimate prize. There is no Lombardy Trophy. There is no gold medal. You might say the Eagle rank is that gold medal, but you'd be incorrect. Eagle rank is just another recognition which can be followed with eagle palms, national outdoor achievement, or Hornaday gold awards.
Implementing the eight methods of Scouting to progress towards the three aims of Scouting in a fun, exciting, challenging way is what Scouting is all about. A person never reaches a point where he is a perfectly fit citizen of perfect character, so a scout never reaches "the end" of Scouting. There is always room for growth, opportunity for more fun and challenge, and something new to try.
So, what place does competition have in Scouting? I feel that competition between patrols and troops is perfectly fine. It builds patrol spirit and gives scouts a tangible reason to practice skills. There are many ways to make competition fun for all, not just the winners. For example, having a recognition for first place but also a prize for everyone if all patrols complete the task in a time limit. That provides incentive to accomplish the goal, even for the least-skilled group.
If you notice there are often a few winners being singled out in your troop, you might want to pause and take a compass check.
Speaking of competition, tomorrow's post will include a contest for $50 or more - don't miss it.
Posted: 15:22 12-20-2010 547
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