Michael Montemarano is on a mission. His goal: eliminate a particularly irksome word from the Scouting vernacular.
The Scoutmaster of Staten Island, N.Y., Troop 8 has heard this four-letter word used quite a bit in his time as a volunteer.
I must admit that I’ve been guilty of using it a few times myself on this very blog.
What’s the word?
Montemarano was struck by how often adult leaders use that word to refer to Scouts — even older Scouts. Some of these young men are nearing their 18th birthdays and will soon enter college or the workforce or the military. And yet many of us still call them kids.
That’s why Montemarano put his foot down. Out of respect for these young men, he’ll call them “Scouts” regardless of age. And he explains his reasoning to every adult leader or parent he meets.
It’s important to note that Montemarano didn’t contact me to broadcast his no-“kids” campaign. In fact, he didn’t contact me at all. It was one of the adult leaders in Troop 8, Margaret Collord, who brought Montemarano’s mission to my attention
“Mr. Michael Montemarano has adopted vocabulary that I personally find valuable in our troop,” she writes. “I will tell you that once you see and refer to these young men as ‘Scouts’ consistently, the word ‘kids’ just seems wrong on so many levels. For me, personally, I’ve adopted this language and find it spreading out to other areas of my life.”
Like school PTA meetings, where Collord finds herself replacing the verboten word with the term “students.”
So what makes “Scouts” so much better than “kids”? Collord has a theory.
“I believe that it has the added benefit of ownership with the boys, especially when it comes to that age where their non-Scouting friends may be making fun or pressuring them to drop out of Scouting,” she says. “There is a pride of being a Scout, rather than a ‘kid’ at that moment, and I’d like to think it helps them resist the pressure to abandon their Scouting careers at a key moment in their lives.”
My take — and yours?
I’m going to be more careful about using the potentially pejorative term “kids” on this blog. When you show respect to Scouts, they’ll show respect to you.
What do you think? I’d love to read it in the comments section below.