It’s Not “What do I Need?” It’s “Where am I Needed?”

Scouts, when you hear the word “service”, what exactly does that mean to you? I asked that question at last Monday night’s Scout meeting and the one single answer I got from most scouts was… “When you help people”.

Tonight’s Scoutmaster’s Minute is about service. The definition given by most of the scouts was acceptable, “It’s when you help people”, but I want to add a very important ingredient. Scout service should be a little more than that. A definition of scout service should be “When you help people without expecting anything in return.” That’s service. Pure and simple. The only reward you get is the great feeling in your heart that you have made someone’s day better. That the world was a better place for a little while because you were in it and you answered the call of service to others.

Let me take this one step further. At this point I want to address Life Scouts who are working on their Eagle Service Projects. This is one of the most serious undertakings of any boy’s scouting career. You have the opportunity to do some real good in your community through this project. You have the opportunity to affect people’s lives.

But there is the distinct possibility that this project could be something less than true service. Why? Because you are getting something out of it. You are getting an Eagle Scout Award. It would be very easy to view this project as a “requirement” instead of looking at it as service. The Eagle Scout Service Project booklet tells you exactly what you can and can’t do and they say you must use leadership and they put great store in the record keeping. Let’s face it. The Eagle Scout Service Project is a requirement. It’s treated like a requirement. You get graded on it. And many Life Scouts respond to that by treating it like its a requirement. It’s just one more thing they have to get out of the way in order to earn their Eagle Award. Some of them do exactly what they have to do to satisfy the requirement.

My message to you tonight is that you should try very hard not to look at it as a requirement. Look at it as an opportunity to do something worthwhile. Do everything you are supposed to do. Display leadership. Keep records. But pay attention to the smiles on the faces of the people you are serving. Pay attention to the good you are doing. Sure, you get an award for it, but that’s the last thing you should be thinking of. This should be service. You should do your project as if you weren’t expecting a reward.

Because when all is said and done and years from now you are telling your son about your Eagle Project, you want to be proud of what you did. Not the leadership you used. Not the records you kept. Not the award you got. The Eagle Scout Service Project should stand alone, enriching the lives of all who participate in it and all who receive benefits from it.

Wouldn’t it be great if your project continued to be of enjoyment and service to your community long after people have forgotten the name of the Scout who did it. Service. One of the most essential qualities of an Eagle Scout. Service. One of the qualities that enriches the quality of our lives and brings out the humanity in us all.

Life Scouts……..Don’t ask yourself “What do I need. Ask yourself….

“Where Am I Needed”.

© Bill Shaffer 2004