Declination: "

Compasses point at magnetic north. Meridians of longitude point at true north.

Latitude and longitude, a grid of measured coordinates, determine geographic locations. Compass readings have to be reconciled to the measured grid; a factor called declination. The magnetic poles of the earth shift slightly over time, and declination changes depending on your location.

We enter into an undertaking like scouting with our own presuppositions and ideas. These ideas may be aligned with what the goals and intents of Scouting, sightly off course, or badly misdirected. Once we learn the real goals and intents we need to adjust course or we're in danger of steering away from our destination.

Pilots and navigators will tell you to trust instruments over instincts. I've been out hiking or paddling and trusted my instincts instead of looking at a map or taking a compass reading. Once I discover that I am headed in the wrong direction I have to adjust what I think I know to the demonstrable reality of what I learn from a map. This can be difficult. I've convinced myslef that the portage or campsite is right over there but it is actually in the opposite direction.

If I am traveling with others the process becomes even more complicated. They may have their own idea of where we are and where we are headed, or how we need to correct our course.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Our direction as Scout leaders can be based on our instincts or on what we learn. We need to underestimate our knowledge and continuously check our direction against a point of reference. As we go along we need to be sure that those we are following do the same. If the lead hiker makes the wrong turn it's more likely that the rest will follow rather than checking their own map.

We don't go Scouting alone. Our fellow leaders, Scouts and families will all have an opinion about the way forward. Our obligation is to lead them in the right direction.

Scouting is simple, direct and as easy to understand as a map and compass so long as we test and retest our direction to stay on course.

Image above from Check out this clickable map to determine the magnetic declination where you live.



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