Author Avatar

Issue 213 – Carrots

When’s the last time your boss said to you, or you said to an employee or staff member, “Hey, show up on Saturday morning and there’ll be a ‘kicker’ in it for you,” or “If you take on this special assignment, you can plan on a nice bonus,” or “Do this and there’ll be a promotion for you when you’re done.” Never? Really…? Why not? After all, isn’t this just what we tell our Scouts…

“Show up for this project and you’ll get service hour credit.” “Go on this hike and you’ll complete requirement 7.” “Come to this event and you’ll get a special patch.” Don’t we pretty much do this all the time?

Are you seeing a disparity here? You bet! And it’s a big one.

The stuff in Scouting that’s comparable to what life’s made up of, like doing something because it’s fun, or it’s challenge, or it’s in keeping with one of our principle of helping others, is pretty rare these days. Somehow, we think that dangling carrots, like credit for hours or completing a requirement, or getting a patch or badge, is the only way to motivate boys.


Fun motivates boys. Challenge and adventure motivate boys. A sense of accomplishment motivates boys.

“But how will they advance, if we don’t tell ‘em they need to do this or that to complete requirements?” you ask. B-P, more than a hundred years ago but no less true today, put it this way: “Advancement is like a sun tan… It’s something that happens naturally when you’re having fun in the out-of-doors.”

There’s no way I can top that! But I can take a quiet moment to remind myself that, if we dangle carrots for every little thing, we’re teaching our sons to never think about doing anything for simply the sheer love of doing it. I think I’d like my son to think differently from this. How about you?

Happy Scouting!



Got a question? Have an idea? Send it to (Please include your POSITION and COUNCIL NAME or TOWN & STATE)

(April 25, 2010 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2010)

Letters to AskAndy may be published at the discretion of the columnist and the editor. If you prefer to have your name or affiliation withheld from publication, please advise in your letter..


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

Read Andy's full biography

Comments are closed.