“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford University in 2005
Parents of my Scouts are on an uncertain journey. They’ll only know if they did the right things and made good decisions in retrospect. Right now they will have to trust something.
Scouting is a great thing to trust; it has connected the dots for a lot of boys in the uncertain years of their march towards adulthood. Trusting Scouting is not trusting an individual, a troop or a program but a process driven by some simple principles.
Camping and hiking and the other things Scouts do are not just recreation. Badges, metals and sashes are not just a system of recognition. Taking responsibility is not just a course in leadership. All of these things are only parts of a grand process that gives Scouts a way to connect the dots into the future.
If I ask an old Scout what he thinks he got out of Scouting he usually stops and thinks for a while before he answers. He’s trying to figure out how to quantify climbing his first mountain, striking out on his own for the first week he spent away from home, the comradeship of Scouts who have become his lifelong friends, finding courage and confidence against a hundred challenges. Most can’t say exactly how all this connected the dots for them; they only know that it did.
It’s easy to trust things that always go well, that are easy to understand and easy to do. But some times you have to go with your gut, your intuition that you’ve chosen well. Scouting is not all sunshine and roses; there are real challenges that lead to real achievements.
You have to trust in something.