This I Believe

Robert - Lubbock, Texas
Entered on October 6, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

The Fellowship of the Willing

What are the qualifications of people who make a difference in a way that has lasting value?

I believe that simple willingness to serve is a volunteer’s most vital attribute. Who gets the job done? Many times it is the unprepared, marginally qualified individual who is willing to try something new, believing that imperfect performance is better than no action at all.

I was a Boy Scout, age 13, when our young Scoutmaster resigned on short notice. He was one of those rare people who could do everything well. Who would take his place? There was no shortage of qualified men with outdoor experience, but the hunter was too busy at work, the fisherman didn’t think he could handle a scout troop, the camper was reluctant to assume an extra responsibility and the hiker just kept on walking. The troop was still without a leader three months later when an unfamiliar, older man dressed in a suit appeared at the Monday night meeting. He introduced himself as Frank Rack, a businessman who had agreed to be our Scoutmaster when nobody else would take the job. Mr. Rack knew little about Boy Scout traditions and was not an outdoor buff. “Be Prepared”, the Boy Scout motto, describes precisely what Frank was not when he put on the Scoutmaster uniform for the first time.

The first year under Mr. Rack’s leadership was awkward. Who will renovate the equipment room? When should we have patrol leader elections? How will we get to our next campout with only one adult leader? The questions must have been overwhelming to a man with no scouting experience. At his first campout Frank called on the older boys to teach him outdoor skills. Watching him try to set up a tent that first time was hilarious. He didn’t know how to prepare for the annual Scout Show, but called a parents meeting to take suggestions. Other businessmen were recruited to teach merit badge classes. This was a “can do” man who got things done. If he wasn’t able to do it himself, Frank found someone who could.

Mr. Rack never became an adept outdoorsman or achieved the proficiency of our young Scoutmaster. He did make a huge investment in the lives of 25 boys, who knew that he could be counted on as our leader. Fifty years later I can’t recall classmates’ names or even my former home address. I do remember Frank Rack, a charter member in the fellowship of the willing. Today it makes no difference that someone else could have been a more skillful Scoutmaster than he was. What counted was his willingness to do what nobody else would do to the best of his ability.