Forest E. Witcraft (1894 – 1967), a scholar, teacher, and Boy Scout administrator first published in the October 1950 issue of Scouting magazine.
I am not a Very Important Man, as importance is commonly rated. I do not have great wealth, control a big business, or occupy a position of great honor or authority.
Yet I may someday mould destiny. For it is within my power to become the most important man in the world in the life of a boy. And every boy is a potential atom bomb in human history.
A humble citizen like myself might have been the Scoutmaster of a Troop in which an undersized unhappy Austrian lad by the name of Adolph might have found a joyous boyhood, full of the ideals of brotherhood, goodwill, and kindness. And the world would have been different.
A humble citizen like myself might have been the organizer of a Scout Troop in which a Russian boy called Joe might have learned the lessons of democratic cooperation.
These men would never have known that they had averted world tragedy, yet actually they would have been among the most important men who ever lived.
All about me are boys. They are the makers of history, the builders of tomorrow. If I can have some part in guiding them up the trails of Scouting, on to the high road of noble character and constructive citizenship, I may prove to be the most important man in their lives, the most important man in my community.
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a boy.
Allan Green says
Wow! That just about says it all.
I am curious, Clark. Do you have a stack of old scouting magazines sitting in a corner of your house, or do you find them on line? I searched through Google Books, but did not find any of these magazines older than the 1970’s. I often wonder if scouters of past generations struggled with some of the issues we struggle with. I suspect that some did. I read one Scouting magazine from May 1972 about the (back then) coming changes to the advancement program in which the author lamented the fact that half the scouts never made it past first class, and that not many ever got any merit badges. I have heard that not many scouters liked that new advancement program, and ten years later we scrapped it and put the old system back in. I find looking at such history fascinating. You mentioned a book one time called “Be Prepared” by Mr Cochran, a scoutmaster in the 1930’s that I found enthralling. His final chapter floored me. I wish they would reprint this book.