Thoughts on an upcoming Court of Honor
Scouting ought to be about the acquisition of experiences,
which are celebrated by means of recognition (badges of various sorts, whether ranks or Merit Badges or event patches).
After seeing the haul from our Troop's summer camp this year -- in particular, a couple of blue cards for a Merit Badge I know
cannot have been earned in a week of camp but also a pile of weird, classroom-like Merit Badges that aren't outdoorsy in the least -- I note that a lot of Scouting these days is about the acquisition of recognitions,
which are celebrated by means of experiences (Courts of Honor). Camp has become a Merit Badge factory. In the off-season, Merit Badge seminars clutter the calendar, chockablock with ill-taught classes. In other words, the Adventure has been turned into School, punctuated by occasional congratulatory episodes.
Now, I'm all for achieving things, which means earning ranks and badges and whatnot, and I believe in honoring youth; however, when I think back over my Scouting career, I don't bask in the warm glow of my Eagle badge or my Vigil Honor sash, but in the experiences that have sunk deep in my soul: a winter's night hike over snowy fields; Allowat Sakima being canoed across the lake while he sings names in the Lenape language; a Sunday evening's vesper service; standing atop a mountain with my crew; singing in the dining hall; canoeing down a shady river; lying in my tent with the flaps open and my nose mere inches from the rain.
I don't care what credentials you've got. I want to know what you've seen, where you've been, what you have felt in your soul. Too many Troops and Crews (and Councils!) have got their priorities seriously out of balance.