Sunday, April 28, 2013

Honor Trail Speeches

I have been asked to write up the Honor Trail Speeches we use at Camp Loll.  These are not the only ones the Rangers use, but they are the ones I give the guys if they ask for ideas.

Honor Trail Speeches

This telling of the story is just an outline.  The presenter should feel free to adapt it to his own circumstance and experience.  It is key to keep the delivery short as the story is part of a longer program touching on all “three” points of the Scout Oath.

Duty to God:

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God.

Many years ago a young man set out to become a fur trapper in the great American wilderness.  It was his goal to master the wilderness and to gain freedom and wealth.  He was no fool, and sought out the best of teachers to guide and instruct him.  He found an old Indian Chief who knew every secret of the forest and asked for his help.  The wise old man saw in the boy the seeds of greatness and so consented to reveal  the secrets of his wisdom.

All that summer and into the fall the Chief taught his craft to the young man.  He showed him how to read the signs of the woods.  He learned all the animal signs, and came to understand their ways and to know their haunts.  The wise old Indian showed the boy how to rig a hidden dead fall, and where to place the steel traps to catch the most valuable furs.  He also taught the boy how to live off the land, to find good water and food and shelter, to live safely among bears and lions and the other great beasts of the forest.

The youth was in awe of the wisdom of his master, but he questioned one thing.  Each day the old Chief would find some high spot, he called it his Idaho.  He would ascend, and there raise his arms in worship to The Great Spirit.   Finally, the boy felt he had to question his teacher. 

“Why,” he asked, “do you worship a Great Spirit?”  Have you ever seen Him?”  The old Chief, who was a man of many actions but few words, did not answer the boy.  That night they went to bed as usual.  In the pre-dawn cold, the old man woke his pupil, and motioned to him to follow him into the gray light of the forest before the coming of the sun. 

Without a word, he led him to the edge of the nearby lake and pointed to some deep marks in the soft sand of the beach.  The boy knew the drill.  “Those,” he said, “are the tracks of a moose.  He must have come here during the night, for I did not see these tracks yesterday.  He has waded into the lake here, feasted on water lilies and, no doubt moved off down the shallows.  If we follow the shore, we will find where he came out.” 

“How do you know all this?” asked the Indian.  “You have not seen a moose.”

“Ah,” said the boy, “but I have seen his tracks, and reason tells me the truth.” 

The Chief left the lake and led the boy to the nearby stream that raced down the mountain beside the lake.  Moving upstream along the noisy water, rimmed with thick mosses filled with flowers, he came to a muddy bank.  There were more tracks.  The old man pointed.


Once again the boy was ready for the test.  “These are the tracks of the mink,” he said with excitement.  These are the most precious of the beasts we seek.  If we set our traps with care and cunning we will be richly rewarded. “

“How do you know there are mink?” asked his teacher.  Have you seen them? 

“I do not need to see them,” said the youth.  “Their tracks are clear to see, I have seen all I need to know.”

The last stars were fading and the sky was growing rose-colored as the Indian Chief led his young friend up a steep slope overlooking the lake filled valley.  High on the ridge they came to a great fir snag.  Its rotting bark was torn away and high above were deep gouges cut into the wood, just below them the tree trunk seemed to have been polished.  The Chief pointed at the test.

“This is easy,” said the boy.  “A great grizzly bear has been here.  He is marking his range so no other will dare to enter his hunting ground.  Here he has shown his strength by pulling the bark from this great tree, high above he has shown his reach and power by scaring the wood with the deep, broad furrows of his claws, and there he has shown to all his height by standing, back against the tree, and stretching back his nose to rub a marker of his stature.”  The boy was pleased to show how well he had learned his lessons.  “He is over nine feet tall,” he said with unwavering confidence.

“How do you know?” asked the Indian.  “You have not seen this beast.” 

“I have seen his tracks!  And here is a tuft of his hair.”  He held them up, brown with silver tips. 

The wise old Indian Chief turned and continued to climb to the top of the open ridge.  The boy followed.   He came to stand next to his guide.  They turned to look into the east as the sun burst above the far horizon, its golden light flooding between the distant mountain peaks.  The glory of morning filled the forest, illuminating a scene of indescribable beauty.  The boy’s heart was touched, a gasp escaped his lips.  The Chief turned to his friend.  His eyes sparkled.  Stretching out his arm, he gestured to the forest with a sweep of his upturned palm.  “Behold,” he said, “the tracks of God!”

Scouts, here in this beautiful forest we can see the truth.  We can see the work of God’s hand and the evidence of his power and love.  Let us always remember His loving gifts to us, and learn to read the tracks of God.

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God.

Duty to Country:

This is a story told by Elder Paul Dunn, a president of the Quorum of the Seventy in the Mormon Church and a hero of World War Two.  At the end of World War Two, a young solider was among the Americans who liberated a Japanese prison camp.  They literally shot the locks off the gates and came in to find the prisoners, who had been abandoned to die.   Deep in the jungle, it had been raining and the ground was mud.  Those of the prisoners who could were cheering or crying with joy.  The young solider saw a man crawling toward him in the mud.  This man had been a Christian Missionary taken captive in the early days of the war, and who had spent long years in this terrible place.  When captured, he had weighed 170 pounds;  now he weighed less than 100 pounds.  He could not stand and the strong young solider lifted him into his arms and held his ear close to the prisoner’s lips, for he was pleading for something in a hoarse whisper. 

Scouts, what would you ask for after years of imprisonment, starvation, neglect and brutal abuse? Would you ask for food, clean water, medication, or clothing to cover your nakedness?  What this minister was begging for was an American flag.  One was procured for him off a nearby jeep.  He took it in his hands and wept.  You see, that flag represented to him everything he had been deprived of through the terrible years of his imprisonment.  It stood for prosperity, power, safety, and, most of all for freedom.

Scouts, never forget what America gives to you, never forget what the flag stands for to you and to the entire world, and never forget to do your duty to America.

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to my country.

Duty to others and self:

On my honor I will do my best to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally wake and morally straight.

Many years ago, two young men set out on a journey across a great desert; they rode their camels deep into the trackless wilderness.  One night as darkness fell they gathered wood and built a fire against the cold of the desert night.  As the wood came to a blaze an angel took shape in the flame.  He told them that on the morrow they would find their fortune, that a great treasure awaited them at the end of the day’s journey.  The angel told them that in the morning they were to follow the track of the sun into the west and there they would be rewarded with great treasure.  The angel also instructed them that at first light, before they started their day’s journey, they were to gather pebbles and fill their saddle bags. 

The boys hardly slept at all for anticipation and excitement.  They were up in the cold dawn and prepared their camels for the journey.  Almost as an afterthought, they searched the dirt about their campsite and gathered a few handfuls of pebbles and slipped them into their saddle bags and as the sun rose in pink and purple they headed into the west.

All day they hurried on, constantly searching the distant horizon.  They expected the towers of some great treasure city, forgotten to time, to rise before them over the curve of the sand.  They journeyed all day and saw nothing but the wilderness, scrub and sand.  As night fell, they and their camels exhausted, they stopped to make their camp.  Their hearts were heavy with disappointment, even  bitterness.

As they kindled their fire, once more the angel rose with the flames and bade them bring their saddle bags into the fire light.  They obeyed, and at his command they dumped the pebbles onto the ground.  To their surprise the rough stones had been transformed into jewels: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.  In that instant they realized that they were richer than they had ever dreamed, and yet they could not help but regret that, when they had had the chance, they had not gathered more pebbles.

Our lives are thus.  We journey on toward the someday goal of greatness, while we fail to gather the pebbles, the character traits and values, that will be the treasures of our lives.  Let us fill our lives with service to others, with health and strength of body, stretch and grow our minds, and live our lives according to the self-evident truths of moral virtue. 

On my honor I will do my best to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally wake and morally straight.


1 comment:

Todd said...

As I read I am transported to the honor trail at dusk. Thanks for sharing these pebbles-turned-gems!