Deliberate Enthusiasm

Day before camp: “Isn’t it tomorrow yet?!?”
1st day of camp: “Awesome! Sweet! This place rocks!”
2nd day of camp: “Who’s turn was it to do dishes?”
3rd day of camp: “Isn’t it time to go home now?”

Yep! It a pattern that happens all too often, even on ‘good’ camping trips. You’ve seen it before many times. More than that, you’ve felt it yourself many times before. Why is it that we lose enthusiasm so quickly for things that we genuinely think are exciting and worthwhile? Well, I’m glad you asked that!

Today, I learned about Deliberate Enthusiasm!

Whether you catch it or grow it, you’ve gotta have it!

Enthusiasm is a really cool thing. It’s not magic; it’s not something you can snap your fingers and have it appear. It starts with something that really clicks with you for some reason or another. It’s something that you need to nurture and grow in yourself. Sometimes, no one around you is excited; no one is enthusiastic. In those cases, it can take a lot of work to develop in yourself. You have to feed off of that inner spark and fan it up into a flame. Fortunately, it also turns out that it’s really contagious. Most of the time, it’s spread from person to person. This is especially true in Scouting. In “How to Run a Patrol”, John Lewis says:

“The beginning of Scouting is to kindle the imagination in just this way and to kindle it from your own authentic flame. You have to set yourself deliberately to do this and the successful Scoutmaster “won’t be happy till he gets it.” Now I defy any man to awaken this spirit in twenty boys at once. An enthusiasm of this sort is communicated by a kind of contagion, like measles, and people must catch it from you one by one.”

Whatever way you get enthusiasm, you must truly posses it if you want it to really mean anything. You can’t just borrow it for a while or fake it. Enthusias

m is what it takes to turn ideals into action. Say you’ve got a picture in your head of the perfect Troop or Patrol. That idea is just going to stay in your head and make you upset the world doesn’t look that way. Unless, that is, you’ve got enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can take those hopes and dreams and say, “Hey! This is what I can do to help make this a reality!” Sir Alfred Jones said:

“If you want to be successful, you must be ahead of your neighbors everywhere. You can only do this by enthusiasm and activity. Enthusiasm brings activity, for no one who is keen in his work can ever waste time.”

Catching it is the fun part. Keeping it going is a whole different ball game!


Since enthusiasm is so infectious, passing on true enthusiasm to others is fairly straightforward. What I want to talk about now is how you keep it going for yourself. Too often, the Camp Out Fatigue Syndrome affects so many other aspects of our lives. There are so many things we are excited about, Scouting among them. But when we start to get into it we meet with difficulties and problems. It isn’t as easy as we had imagined it to be. Pretty soon, we are left burnt-out and un-enthused. We’ve got enthusiasm in Theory, but not in Practice. In “Weekend Camps and Hikes” by C.H. Young, he talks about this Camp Out Fatigue Syndrome:



“There are few young people to-day who do not love the outdoor life of Scouting. It appeals to those full of adventure and imagination, and gives an outlet for their abundance of energy where they will be of least annoyance to others. Yet, how often one encounters the surprising decrease of enthusiasm in some who have come to discover, through their own fault mainly, that their camping and hiking have not been all that they had hoped for. They were far from comfortable especially when the weather was not too kind to them, and they have abandoned what might have been a most enjoyable adventure with all its abundant opportunities. When one investigates one finds that they had imagined that all you had to do was to procure a certain amount of camping equipment, find a camp site and all would be well.”

First rule of thumb: Don’t go into something with naive/blind enthusiasm. Do go into something with eyes open and the “I’m-prepared-to-work-to-make-this-awesomeness-happen” enthusiasm.

Not following this rule is just setting yourself up for a let down. Anything that’s worthwhile to accomplish is going to take time and effort. It’s going to take an investment of yourself. That is totally a good thing, though. Personal investment makes it real and meaningful to you. It also makes it that much more worthwhile to stay invested. Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting said this in “Scouting for Boys”:


“Scouting is a fine game, if we put our backs into it and tackle it well, with real enthusiasm. As with other games, too, we will find that we gain strength of body, mind, and spirit from the playing of it.”

This is called: Deliberate Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm with a purpose. Enthusiasm with strength of will to back it up.

What does it all mean?

Well, I’ll be honest with you: I just made up the term “Deliberate Enthusiasm”. But I say it because I believe it captures the true Scouting Spirit. A Scout doesn’t let adversity get him down. How does a Scout do that? Deliberate Enthusiasm. If you’re so excited about it that you want to burst, then that will carry you through those times when you’re hot and tired and just want to give it all up. Sometimes it may feel like you have to force yourself to be enthusiastic. It is at those times when the “Deliberate” part comes in. You have to decide to be Enthusiastic.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to keep this blog on your radar, just put your email into the email box on the right and/or follow me on your favorite Social Media service. If you know a Scout or Scouter who you think might be struggling with why they aren’t excited about Scouting anymore, please take a minute or two and tell them about Deliberate Enthusiasm. It’s Real Scouting, in the Real World.

As Always,
Scout On!



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