Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Do You Serve?

The time I have spent as the Order of the Arrow Lodge Adviser has been truly rewarding for me.  I began this position 5 months ago not knowing exactly what service would be expected of me.  There have been many highlights in that time; of course the greatest highlight has been working with the phenomenal Scouts and Scouters who are members of the Guneukitschik Lodge.  Recently I had the privilege of attending the National Lodge Advising Training Seminar (NLATS).  This was an incredibly educational and beneficial experience for me and one of the questions from that training that I have spent some time thinking about is, “Why do you serve?”  This is a question relevant to all of us who serve in the Order as well as those who serve Scouting in other ways, so I thought I would use this blog as a way of sharing my answer and hopefully to encourage others to share as well in the comments below.

To boil down my reason for service in the Order into a single statement is because I truly believe in the purpose of the Order of the Arrow.  This purpose consists of four parts and each of these parts explain why I love the Order and Scouting and why I continue to serve in any way I can.  

The first part of that purpose is the recognition of deserving Scouts and Scouters.  Being the national honor society of Scouting means that I have the privilege of surrounding myself with some of the best people that the Mason-Dixon Council has to offer.  As a youth this is what drew me into the Order, as I was advancing in both rank and age there were fewer things my troop had to offer me but the Lodge had older youth, new adventures and leadership opportunities for me.  Guneukitschik continues to offer these opportunities to our youth as well as new opportunities for those of us who are no longer youth.  Any service with this group of individuals is rewarding simply because I value the relationships that I have already built and will continue to build with the Lodge members.

The second part of the purpose is about the promotion of camping and I have been a life-long camper who wants to share this love with others.  Some of the best experiences in my life have happened at Scout camps.  Working at Cub day camps and summer camp as a youth instilled the Scouting spirit in me.  Additionally, having had the chance to attend National Jamborees, Philmont, NJLIC (now called NAYLE) as well as many other local campouts has truly made me the self-reliant and confident person I am today.  Those experiences as a youth were crucial to my development and I feel that my service now is repaying a debt to all those who enabled me to have these experiences when they influenced me the most. 
Developing leaders is the third part of the purpose of the Order of the Arrow and education is something I strongly believe in and have dedicated my life to pursuing.  My experiences learning about leadership as a Scout have helped me tremendously in all parts of my life.  Every day I use some of the leadership skills and techniques I have acquired from Scouting in my work life as well as my leadership roles in Scouting.  One of my other current roles is serving on the staff of the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) which allows me to see Arrowmen and others using and developing those leadership skills.  Seeing these skills in action during an intensive camping experience brings joy to me every year.  In addition to this joy, serving in this way actually has the additional benefit of allowing me to work with well-trained leaders in the future.  Seeing youth use those leadership skills acquired through Scouting is one of the greatest joys any scouter can experience.

The final part of the purpose is so well written that I will quote it directly.  "Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."  This is fundamental to my beliefs about what not only scouting is about, but what life is about.  The ideas of helpfulness and cheerful service are what have enabled this organization to stand the test of time.  If I want to call myself a Scout, I have to be helpful; if I want to call myself an Arrowman, I have to provide cheerful service.  Seeing the impacts of my service on our camp, our community and our society is its own reward.

I try to live up to the four parts I have outlined above.  Scouting and the Order of the Arrow have given so much to me during all phases of my life.  Even after many years of service I still feel indebted to the Scouting organization for what it has done for me.  My little bits of service are my small way of paying back and trying to give other scouts similar opportunities and experiences to what I have had.

Please use the comments section below to let us know “Why Do You Serve?”

John Hamman
Order of the Arrow Lodge Adviser