The other night I was sitting at a table where I haven’t sat in over 23 years. It was January of 1990 the last time I sat at this table. It didn’t seem that long ago where every couple months, after a great deal of work, frustration, encouragement, and eventual reward would I come to this table. It would become a ritual, a defining event that marked a rite of passage with each time we gathered at this table.
This table is the Boy Scouts Board Of Review.
Every Scout, in order to advance to the next rank, MUST attend a Board of Review (BOR). At that table, there are 3 – 6 Adult Leaders from the Troop reviewing the Scout’s progress. I remember mine vividly. I remember being scared, nervous, thinking “Did I actually do everything the Scoutmaster said I did ? Will I remember the First Aid, New Skills, or Knots I just learned. ” I remember the difficult questions being fired at me like I was a presidential candidate in the final debate. It was nerve wracking to say the least.
Yet, for the first time, I sat on the other side of the table tonight. I was directing this questions at the 4 boys hoping to advance in rank. Not only that, these were Tenderfoot Board Of Reviews. So for these 4 young, energetic boys, this was their first BOR. Each Scout nervous, scared, and concerned like I was many years ago.
And so the questions began. Three adults, firing back questions to see how the Scouts were progressing. I was reminded back of my Board Of Review Mentor, Lorne Bidwell. He was firm, wouldn’t waver, wouldn’t let me get out of not answering a question. Always commenting at the end, “This is a skill in life that you need to succeed, so practice it now while you can.” I shared that same advice to each of our 4 young boys.
At what would become my final Board Of Review, the final question was, “Do you get it ?” Do you understand what it means to be a Scout for life and think about giving back that which was given unto you. The Ranks, The Merit Badges, The Service Projects, The Patrols, The Leadership Positions, that everything in Scouting has a purpose. I guess 23 years later, I’m starting to get it and only time will tell how well I truly understand it.
In the end, we have 4 new Tenderfoots (or is it Tenderfeet) All the boys did great and I enjoyed sitting on the other side of the table.