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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/06/2002 15:15:11 CDT
Subject: Recognizing Competence

Message Detail:
I think I grasp the basic concept and mission, or goal, of SCARD (beyond excluding everybody who's NOT interested in the Signal Corps, that is...lol). One of the benefits of SCARD, beyond being able to locate folks of like mind or at least like interest, is to work with one another in developing some level of competence among ourselves from which we can all benefit. By that, I suppose what I mean is that when we run into other Signalmen at events, whether reenactments or living histories, we can assume certain minimum levels of competence or ability in one or more areas of the work of the Signal Corps.

But is that true? I mean, if I found someone with Signal Corps insignia at an event, I'd say, "SCARD?", and if they answered "Yup!" instead of, "Well, not badly; I've pretty much gotten over the thing with my mother, and then when ol' Shep ran away it took some time, but..." - well, if they did say, "Yup!", then I'd feel as if I'd found a brother in arms, and I'd also take it for granted that he knew a lot of things that I don't. I'd guess that he was more than marginally competent with signaling via flag, and that he might have some exposure - maybe even a LOT of exposure - to telegraphy. But he might not be a SCARD member and yet STILL be competent, or at least more competent than I.

But SCARD is, and should be, establishing itself as aan international entity that has a membership which is capable of achieving certain levels of communication for events of various sorts. A Camp of Instruction is a great idea, but not always something that we all could take advantage of. Look at the problems associated with getting a group of folks together for a Signal Symposium -it's a lot of work, and not all can attend.

And how can we readily know in the field that those we meet who bandy about the SCARD name as easily as I do can perform certain functions? I know this is hard to believe, but there are some reenactors who have actually been know to exaggerate, and I heard of a fellow once who reputedly lied about what he knew.

Is there a secret tattoo, or maybe a branding, that you get when you prove within the ranks of SCARD that you can do something useful? Maybe that's something that can be considered. I'd settle for a gold star or something along those lines, though.

The reason I ask is that I was recently treated to a presentation by a fellow doing Signal Corps. He was very well-meaning, but even some small children in our group knew better than he did about many points of the Signal Corps - and I mean that exactly. We had a 5-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl, and a 10-year-old girl who all "Ummmmm..."ed him (you know - the noise kids make just before they say, "I'm gonna tell!") and then politely corrected the fellow during his presentation (there were only about eight or nine people who bothered to stop and watch, so his humiliation was minor indeed).

Now, had he approached me on the field, and if I was offering a Signal Corps presentation, my propensity would be to try to get him to throw in with us, but I'd be skittish about asking him to do anything *real* with us until I could check him out well, even if he said he was a SCARD member (and knowing as little as I do, that pretty presumptuous, to challenge folks as to their competence). Any suggestions as to how that can be accomplished, or is my hopeful expectation that there's a short and easy answer to this just unrealistic?

(In this fellow's case, I've already tried to get him to join SCARD, but so far he's not done so - and he's on vacation, so I can't get hold of him to nag him...lol).

I could really use y'all's history and experience on this, and you should know in advance that it's much appreciated.

Chuck Lee

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