FOLLOW ME, BOYS!
Last night I sat in my study and watched one of my all-time favorites, Follow Me, Boys! with Fred MacMurray:
And as I watched, I was both inspired and moved to tears. What has always impressed me was that Lem Siddons (Fred McMurray), the over-age sax player in the well-worn dance band once appropriately named “The Collegians,” didn’t get into Scouting or working with youth because he wanted to make a difference in their lives. He volunteered to be Scoutmaster, at least initially, because he had an eye for Vida Downey (Vera Miles), the secretary to the local bank president in hometown Hickory, U.S.A. But once he was committed, he stayed committed for decades (even though he didn’t have a boy in the program) – building thousands of boys into men and preparing them for business, for war, for the highs and lows we all experience, for community service and, in a word, for life – through Scouting.
The magic of the movie is in the endearing, genuine, and selfless commitment of Lem Siddons to his Scouts. And each time I watch this classic movie, it regenerates my soul – and my commitment to serve the Rising Generation – wherever they are. It is not that my commitment wanes or disappears – but I think we all (at least I) need a periodic “boost” to sustain the fire in the belly for that which moves us. In my experience, most assignments get a bit stale with time, callings tend to get routine, schedules complicated, and parents (in many cases) less interested in getting involved in their children’s activities (other than yelling on the sidelines at sporting events) and the burdens become more and greater for those who serve youth. For our marvelous public school teachers, salaries are skimpy, the need for personal contributions of time and personal funds greater, and the demands on their time more significant.
I have also noticed that when I’m discouraged and need someone to cheer me on – the stands are often very quiet, indeed. It’s at those times when each of us needs to find what it is that helps us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, quit feeling sorry for ourselves or feeling overburdened, and regenerate our commitment to our cause. One thing works for one, and something else for another. For me, when I feel a need for a ”boost,” I sit down and pull out one of my “feel good” movies (like Follow Me, Boys) that lift me, regenerates my desire to serve, and get me over my “poor me” moments. By the way, this is not my only “feel good” movie. Mine include varied titles, some old, some new, such as Cool Runnings, The Mighty Ducks, The Greatest Hours, Saving Mr. Banks, Stand and Deliver, Mary Poppins, Chariots of Fire, Unbroken, Singing in the Rain, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Sully, Man of La Mancha, We Are Marshall, Forever Strong, Hoosiers, The Five Pennies, Amazing Grace, and even the very recent American Underdog.
Try it. It might just help you as it does me. If it doesn’t, try listening to good music or getting out and serving others. It’s amazing what serving the less fortunate does to sharpen our perspective on life and our mission.
For those of you who serve our youth, I say, “Thank you for your vision, commitment, and devotion – from the bottom of my heart.” I include committed parents and teachers, Scoutmasters and others working in Scouting programs, visionary athletic coaches (who understand that winning is not everything and take time to teach character values to their teams), and teachers in both public and private schools, all of who work in any character-building youth-serving organization, all who serve in their church youth organization and all in community service organizations who have an eye toward strengthening and preparing the Rising Generation – for Life! Thank you! Merci beaucoup! Danke schön! Muchisimas gracias! Tack så mycket!
I also invite you to get a copy of Follow Me, Boys and watch it (or stream it on Amazon Prime Video or Apple Movies). And, if it doesn’t move you to a new level of commitment, watch it again – or try one of my other “feel good” movies (or one of yours) where leaders have made a difference in the youth they serve. If you are currently a Scout leader, I encourage you to be more devoted than ever in delivering the whole Scouting program to your Scouts. Go to Wood Badge or Powder Horn. Improve the quality of your Troop meetings. Help your Scouts earn their denomination’s religious award. (See VanguardScouting.org for the religious awards for Latter-day Saint Scouts and registered leaders.)
If you were in Scouting but, for one reason or another, have moved to other activities, I invite you to come back to Scouting, where you can make a difference in the lives of youth by serving as a Scoutmaster, on a troop committee, as a merit badge counselor, etc. If you are one of the thousands who have served in Scouting in the past but are now serving in the new Program for Children and Youth in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I encourage you to “up your game” and help those youth you serve to set goals that will help them realize who they are, as sons and daughters of God, develop faith, and prepare them for life and for eternity. Help them learn leadership skills and servant leadership, and help them plan activities that help to meet their personal and quorum/class goals.
And, if you are one who doesn’t currently serve youth directly, I invite you to “see the youth doing good” around you and compliment them. They need to know that those of us who surround them have confidence in them and in their capabilities to succeed and achieve. It doesn’t take a calling or assignment to do that – we can all do that!
Tom Brokaw said, “In this country, it’s easy to make a buck, but it’s tough to make a difference.” Lem Siddons did. And so can we! May God bless each of us to reach out and lift those of the rising generation we serve and live in such a way that we, like Lem Siddons, can simply say, “Follow Me, Boys; Follow Me.”
So the journey’s end
Is beyond our sight,
Follow me boys, follow me.
If we do our best
Then we’ve done alright,
Pack your load, hit the road and