In Market: ‘Be Prepared’

Boy scout eagle pin and patch with khaki uniform shirt and merit badge sash

‘Be Prepared’

The Boy Scouts of America have taken it on the chin lately, but I’ve got to say this. We should have listened to them.

The Boy Scout motto, in case you didn’t spend at least some time in a scouting program is: Be Prepared.

According to the Boy Scout website, the motto means that you are “always ready to do what is necessary to help others. It also means you are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along. You are also being prepared to live a full and worthwhile life, being a physically fit, honorable citizen of strong character.”

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The motto dates to 1907, when Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, an English soldier, devised the Scout motto: Be Prepared. He published it in Scouting for Boys in 1908, two year before the Boy Scouts were founded.

According to Scouting sites, someone once asked Baden-Powell: “Be prepared for what?”

Baden-Powell replied, “Why, any old thing.”

The training you receive in your troop will help you live up to the Scout motto. When someone has an accident, you are prepared because of your first aid instruction. My troop, much as I loved them, was a little more like a Stripes-like group of young, easily distracted boys, rather than a finely tuned organization, but I got the idea.

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Baden-Powell wanted young people to be ready to act quickly in an emergency. It is no coincidence that he coined the motto a few years before World War I. The winds of war were already blowing. The winds of pandemic have been blowing for many years, but few seem to have listened to Baden-Powell. Still Tenderfoots, apparently.

If more people had lived by that motto, this pandemic might have turned out … well less divisive.

I was in the Scouts for a few years until I decided to pursue a badge in rock ‘n’ roll and girls instead of learning how to start a fire with sticks. But even those few years spent hiking and camping instilled a bit of that “Be Prepared” mentality.

Most of what we did was meet up on Saturday at our base – a church on Seminary Drive across from the then-Seminary South Shopping Center, then hike to Carter Park. At the time, they were building Loop 820, so our route was sometimes blocked by deep trenches, giant earthmoving equipment and drunks sleeping off Friday’s bottles of Night Train in some culvert. The scout leader would appoint one of us Tenderfoots to go poke the guy to make sure he was still alive. I got that duty a few times and once, when the guy finally opened his eyes wide and saw a sweaty boy in a scout uniform shaking him, he screamed so loud people in Dallas could hear him. I fell back, tripped and spilled everything out of my backpack, including all the potatoes I was carrying for the troop to cook for lunch. They rolled down the hill into the river as the other scouts looked on in horror. Believe it or not we tried to retrieve them, but probably best we did not.

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I did not receive any merit badges that day. We learned from that though. The next time we split the potatoes up among several troop members.

As haphazard as my troop was, it certainly looks like some leaders didn’t get any of that basic Boy Scout training. Maybe next time, we’ll “Be Prepared.”

Robert Francis


Fort Worth Business Press