Monday, October 29, 2012

The Parable of the Cake

This weekend, I asked a  patrol of boy scouts to make me a cake featuring the Scout logo. I took them to the store and purchased whatever they thought they needed for the cake (including six tubs of frosting). They then prepared, baked and decorated the cake in my kitchen.

The intentness on the face of the young man breaking the eggs, and the smiles and laughter heard throughout the house were unforgettable. The boys measured, stirred, and frosted as a team.

In addition to the cake, I now know the answer to several questions such as, how many bowls does it take to decorate a cake? Answer: seven. And, what is the most complimentary color for red, white, and blue? Answer: yellow. I'm also left asking, what is the best way to remove frosting from a kitchen ceiling?

Unbeknownst to the boys, I had also ordered a cake from a professional bakery. The cake they supplied me with was simple in its design and flawless in its execution. Overall it was a delight to look at, and could grace the table of any proud homemaker without disgrace.

Given the choice, it's apparent to me that anyone would choose a slice of the perfectly-made, German chocolate with whipped cream frosting, cake from the bakery. It is superior in every sense. From the photos, I'm sure that you'll agree.

However, if I were to feed the bakery cake to the same scout patrol that made their own cake, the bakery version would taste much as any other cake they had eaten, and would leave no lasting memory. The homemade cake, would be entirely different. Each bite would be laden with the memories they made together as they experienced a small adventure in my kitchen.

We can learn much about Scouting from these cakes. As adults our natural inclination is to want order, neatness, and perhaps even perfection. We worry about how the cake will look, and perhaps even what people will think about us when they see the cake.

But Scouting is about boys, and boys don't learn from eating a perfect cake, they learn from baking their own imperfect one. They learn from the process of exploring, doing, and re-doing. And that produces far from 'perfect' results. But these are exactly the results we are looking for in Scouting. The broken eggs, the spilt ingredients, the dirty dishes - and the experience of cleaning them, are all integral in allowing our young men to develop character.

In Scouting, a boy-made cake with all its imperfections, is superior to any gourmet cake baked by an adult advisor.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the ways I could adapt this into a Scoutmaster's Minute for parents, leaders, etc...