Author F. Darnall Daley, Jr. has a long record of service to Scouting at the District, Council, and Regional levels. He has plenty of Unit-level experience too – notably as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Assistant Cubmaster for two different grandsons. “The Commissioner’s Corner”, a collection of essays, thoughts, and poems, reflect his love for, and appreciation of Scouting.
Daley’s writing is aimed at inspiring Scouters in the spirit of a big brother or best friend. Your best friend knows when you need a warm pat on the back or a swift kick in the pants and delivers either in the best spirit of inspiration and encouragement. Here’s one writing from the book that communicates, in a few words, the spirit of a Scouter’s work better than all of the PowerPoint presentations ever created to train Scouters put together:
Guardian of the Gate
Some of you appear to be standing guard at the gate. Like good guards, you are not letting anyone pass who does not have the correct password. When someone appears at the gate who does not have the correct password, you send them away. The treasure that you believe you are guarding is the SACRED ADVANCEMENT REQUIREMENTS. You believe that you must guard the gate to make sure that no boy advances who has not only met the requirements but who has met the requirements 110%. Your watchword is, “We’ve gotten soft on the Boy Scout advancement.”
The problem is that you have gotten you orders wrong. You are guarding the wrong side of the gate. The treasure is not behind the gate but in front of it. The reassure is the character of the boys in our care. Your duty is not to prevent boys from passing through but to make sure as many boys as possible do pass through.
Advancement is a method, as tool if you will, that we use in Scouting. It is not an end in itself. The purpose of the advancement system is to build a boy’s confidence and self-esteem. A boy learns something new, he is tested in that skill, he is reviewed, and he is given advancement. Whenever possible the test should be a natural part of the unit’s program. For example, in the requirement is to cook a meal, the test should come when it’s time to eat at a regular unit outing. Remember that we are not authorized to either add to or subtract from any requirement. The review is to be a reflection on a boy’s experience in Scouting, not a retest. The advancement recognition must come as soon after the review as possible.
Some of you may have heard that advancement recognition can only be received once. I assure you that is not true. Recognition can be made many times and as often as possible. Advancement is to be positive reinforcement for a boy’s achievements. If done properly it will encourage a boy toward even more advancement and toward greater confidence in himself.
So get out in front of the gate where the treasure lies. Guard it no more. Become an advocate for our Scouts and provide the leadership that will help them through the gate. The world will be a better place tomorrow.
Daley’s sharp sense of humor runs through all of his writing:
I don’t care what anyone tells you – there is no such organization in Scouting as the ‘Uniform Police.” … There are some people who, however, have read the uniform guide. They believe that it is a revelation from on high. They develop a myopia that has them convinced that their copy was carved in stone before the beginning of recorded time. They will delight in telling you that such and such a patch must be worn 3 millimeters to the left of where you happen to be wearing it. Get a life! Our aim in Scouting is to develop character, citizenship and personal fitness. We should not waste our energy on anything that doesn’t help us toward that goal. And there is no logic which postulates that moving that patch one millimeter will further the cause.
In Scouting, as in nearly any of life’s endeavors, age and experience can cut both ways. If we aren’t careful, we can become sour, grumbling, cane-waving old complainers. If we embrace the joy and potential of Scouting, we can become inspirational, encouraging, friendly folks who continue to strive to make the world a better place.
Darnall Daley has clearly chosen the latter making the “The Commissioner’s Corner” a fantastic source of no-nonsense plain talk and warm inspiration for Scouters delivered with an earnest spirit of heartfelt good will.
The Commissioner’s Corner: A Collection of Inspirational Essays available on Amazon.
Darnall Daley’s Website