Yesterday, I introduced a new series that we’re going to do here at Scouting Rediscovered.You can read the introduction by clicking here.
The first Keystone virtue of the Scout is Endurance. While for the most part, I do not have a particular order that I’m covering the Keystones in, I think it is a good idea to start out with endurance as it is necessary to posses this Keystone if you are going to achieve all of the others.
The Definition of Endurance
So what is endurance? Well, to start with, Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting) wrote a good deal about Endurance in his book, Scouting for Boys. In it he said:
A Scout saying is “Never say die till you’re dead”— and if he acts up to this, it will pull him out of many a bad place when everything seems to be going wrong for him. It means a mixture of pluck, patience, and strength, which we call “endurance.”
If you’ve never ran across this term in older literature, you might be wondering what ‘pluck’ means in this context. Well, ‘pluck’ is an older expression which simply means: “courage or resolution in the face of difficulties”. I think this definition of Endurance that Baden-Powell gives is a very good one. It means that a Scout doesn’t give up what he has started. Too often, boys have great intentions and start something something new (like Scouting), only to quit later on whenever some difficulties arise or they get tired of it.
Baden-Powell followed up his definition of Endurance by giving an example of a Hunter and Scout whose party was attacked and he was cut off in Africa many years ago. This man was able to survive the ordeal by cleverly out-maneuvering those who were trying to kill him and survived many days in extremely adverse conditions by the strength of his will and his physical endurance.
Indeed, Baden-Powell mainly emphasized physical endurance in his book. He said this could be cultivated by anyone who was willing to exercise properly and live a healthy lifestyle. However, having mental endurance and will-power are even more important aspects of endurance than the physical side, for if you don’t have endurance of will, being in great shape physically will be of no use.
What makes Endurance a Scout Keystone?
Why do I choose Endurance to be one of the ten Scout Keystones? There are several reasons for this. This first is one I alluded to earlier. A true Scout doesn’t give up Scouting when thing get tough. He doesn’t shy away at the first sign of difficulties. I’m not going to lie, Scouting is hard work. However, we are Scouts because we realize that the hard work is worth it, and we enjoy the Adventure of Scouting which is made up of both challenges and triumphs.
I don’t say this just about being a member of an organization, such as the Boy Scouts of America. Scouting goes beyond this. True Scouting is a way of life, and a true Scout keeps on Scouting long after he has left any organization.
Scouts explore new things and push back the boundaries of what is known and the commonly accepted level of achievement. A vital aspect of this is the virtue of Endurance. A Scout cannot give up or quit; his spirit of discovery and adventure doesn’t allow him.
How to cultivate endurance in your everyday life
The quality of physical endurance isn’t built over night, and neither is mental endurance. Both are achieved by constant practice and application in your everyday life. If you commit yourself to building the virtue of Endurance in yourself, you will steadily improve more and more each day.
The first step to growing your endurance is to watch what you say. Don’t tell someone that you are going to do something unless you really mean it. It is easy to fall into the ‘good intentions’ habit. You say you are going to do this or that all day long, but you never quite get around to doing it although you ‘mean’ to. Get into the habit of doing everything you say you will do, and don’t say that you are going to take on something unless you really mean to carry it out.
The second step is to get support from you family or close friends. When things get really tough and difficulties just keep mounting in front of you, it is very helpful to have people around you who support you and encourage you. They’re not there to remove your difficulties, that’s your job. They’re there to encourage you to stick with it. They’re there to give you moral support.
There are many other little ways that you can increase your Endurance, but I don’t have time here to go into each one, and really the best way to learn is by doing. As you put endurance into practice, you will get better and better at it.
So there it is in a nutshell; the first Keystone of a Scout is his Endurance. A Scout doesn’t give up, he sticks to it through thick and thin; rain and shine. It sounds simple enough, but it is surprising difficult to put into practice. I hope you will take the effort to improve your Endurance today; physically, but most importantly: mentally.
Thanks for reading this post. It might have been a bit long, but the subject is very important, and one that we need to take seriously as Scouts. Do you have any comments, thoughts, or questions? I’d love to hear them!
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Thanks again! Scout on, my friends!