Scouting’s policies and procedures, the rules that create the Game of Scouting, are not intended to check the ardor, interest or inventiveness of Scouts but to guide their efforts towards the aims of Scouting and to keep them safe
A common problem arises when we misunderstand the place of a specific Scouting procedure or policy. Sometimes they seem helplessly inefficient or circuitous so we attempt to fix them. But like the rules of a game define how the game is played the policies and procedures of Scouting define how we reach the aims Scouting.
If the goal of playing basketball was to simply to pass a ball through a hoop as often as possible we’d be tempted to drop all the rules that encumber players in doing so. Why dribble the ball when carrying it is much more efficient? Why have the hoops so small when more points could be scored if they were larger? Why have the hoop so high? Why restrict the area of play or the number of players? Of course if we made such changes we’d see scores go through the roof but we’d no longer be playing basketball.
The rules aren’t an optional part of the game; the rules create the game.
If the aim were simply earning badges we would make the process as direct and efficient as possible.
If the aim were simply to learn skills we would dispense with all the other trappings and concentrate our efforts in educating Scouts as thoroughly as possible.
If the aim was just to produce leaders we would focus our efforts on schooling our Scouts in management science.
As beneficial as badges and skills and leadership may be they are a means to an end, they are not the aim of Scouting.
Our challenge, then, is to know and understand the rules and to follow them. Not because someone wants to spoil our fun, not because we are subservient to an incomprehensible system of restrictions but because the rules create the game.