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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The American Plainsmen Society (Moderators: Caleb Hobbs, Tsalagidave)  |  Topic: The Outdoorsman’s Rules of Civility (This is just a start.) 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Dave Rodgers

« on: March 16, 2017, 01:42:00 pm »

The Outdoorsman’s Rules of Civility (This is just a start.)

For the last year, I have been using my background as a businessman and marketing manager to assess how we not only maintain the existence of this hobby but to create a resurgence in its popularity. There are many things we can do to promote this lifestyle but it all begins with the one-on-one people skills.  I attended a few local events recently, sometimes as a spectator and sometimes as a participant. I did see a lot of things that gave me a lot of hope; I saw a lot of “opportunities for improvement” as well.  What surprised me was the lack of common courtesy that existed in so many people, both young and old. Feeling that we should revisit the obvious, I penned down a few but please add to the list if it pleases you.  First off…

•   Don’t be “that guy”; you know, the Jonah, the dodger, the useless beat.  Pull your weight cheerfully; respect others; speak the plain truth, and never burden anyone with either your incompetence or personal crap that is yours alone to handle.

•   Joke but don’t whine.  Betas complain; you don’t. You’re the tough guy out in the woods with a gun, remember?  It may be hard but you’ve got a man card so suck it up buttercup.  We’ll all embrace the suck together. (Know a brother-building moment when it comes.)

•   Don’t be too proud to learn.  From your first breath to the last, you are a student of this life and there is always something you can learn from your neighbor.  No matter how many times you have done something, the next guy or gal may do it a different way and now you know more than one way to do it.

•   Respect the old hands.  The guys who have been doing this hobby for years have essentially built the house that you now play in.  They have a lot of knowledge to share and should be listened to.  Part of carrying the torch is acknowledging the guys who brought it all the way to your hand.

•   Respect the young guys.  I hear a lot of cutting remarks about millennials being a bunch of soft-handed sissies, etc.  The truth is that we have a whole generation that has been deprived of any encouragement to pursue manly interests and a lot of them have a keen interest in acquiring man-skills. Also, some of these millennials are combat veterans so they know a thing or two about playing in traffic as well.  Resenting someone for trying to learn on account of their age or despite not being taught previously is asenine.  The younger generations are not the enemies of this hobby, they are the heirs to it.  You can either teach and share or become extinct when we all get too old to do this anymore.

•   Don’t be a bore. This is another “that guy” move and nobody likes it when you always have to one-up someone else’s story.  It just makes you unpleasant to be around and a boring conversationalist in general.  If you care about people wanting to talk to you, give them a reason and enjoy what they have to say.  This means take an interest in them too and give them more limelight than you give yourself.

•   It isn’t hard to take an interest in the people around you.  When you take an interest in what you like about them, it encourages them to do more things you like.  Approval feels great.  Notice how whenever someone heaps a bunch of praise on you for doing it right, you want to do it again? (Same thing.)

•   The whole point of being liked is to be likeable.  Never forget your moral obligation to be a Pard to the people around you.  Having a bad attitude is like having bad breath.  You have problems? So does everyone else.  Reach down deep; shake hands with your inner man and buck up.  You have a manly obligation to put on a happy face and handle your problems, challenges, and inner demons like a boss.

•   Quit looking down on those who are in your hobby but are not as good as you are at it.  The more people in your hobby, the more money there is in the demographics to support a myriad of small businesses making great items for you to choose from.  It also creates a larger pool of interested participants to recruit from into your group. 

•   Quit being a big baby about “recruit stealing”.  When someone spends a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort to build up their own kit, they also have the right to fall in with and associate with any group of their choice so long as the feeling’s mutual.  Just because someone has fallen in with your outfit before does not mean that you own them.  If you want to keep them, give them a reason to stay.  If people don’t want to fall in with you, that’s not their problem, it’s yours.

•   Be decent to people and respect the knowledge that they do have.  If they seem to struggle with something, offer your assistance.  If they refuse, a polite smile and “suit yourself” is all you need to say in reply. 

•   Know when it’s funny and when it will earn you an ass-whuppin.  Jokes and hazing make great memories but if it destroys someone’s gear, taints their food or otherwise jeopardizes their safety, the person you pranked has rights to pound you right in the cracker mill.  If your joke was funny, you’ll become a legend with everyone in the group. If it wasn’t, you could lose some good friends over it.  News travels fast and you never want to be “that guy”. Messing with someone’s food supply, firearm, or kit leaves them with less defenses against the elements and is typically a jackass move.

•   Don’t be in competition with everyone else, just yourself.  Your personal impression isn’t about everyone else; it’s about you. Just like I said about not being “that guy” the boorish bloviating windbag who can always do better than everyone else.  If you do have skills, people will see it without you needing to advertise it.  Just appreciate the efforts of others and if there are ever any real issues to settle, have a council and handle it there.

•   Don’t be that one guy standing at the fire while all else are sitting.  Your higher profile creates a back wall and will make you a smoke magnet.  The people around you will not be grateful for your presence.  Likewise, don’t spit, throw trash or unload your digested beer into the fire.  This is another way to lose friends.

•   Don’t walk through someone’s camp without asking.

•   Don’t take anything that’s not yours without asking.

•   Respect the authenticity levels of each camp.

•   Be ready to help share the load with others on the trail.

The most important all-encompassing rule in this hobby is to be a Pard.  A Pard has your back and does not bring you down.  A Pard cares about safety but would still take whatever risk is necessary to get you out of a fix.  There are many more bits of advice but for now, if these are unfamiliar to you, learn it and live it.  If you are an old hand and all this sounds about right, it would be my honor if you shared this with others.


Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.
Ben Beam
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 03:25:04 pm »

This is truly great advice, but my personal experience has been if someone hasn't learned these things by the time they're an adult, they're probably not going to get it on their own. I would imagine it's up to the event staff (sorry, I don't know the lingo yet) to politely correct them.

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Professor Marvel
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learn from the past, or be doomed to repeat it

« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2017, 01:29:38 am »

My Dear Dave -

an excellent post, as always. It sounds as tho (as pointed out by OldSchoolBoy) you have run into a number of individuals who never learned the basics of good social behaviour! I fear that Civility has declined, but will hold my thoughts on the reasons.

I must find Teddy Roosevelts thoughts on the matter, in the meantime here is a monograph I wrote over a lustrum ago on the
topic of "Etiquette" and "Being a Gentleman". I belive it would certainly pertain to "A Gentleman of the Plains" and
"Rules of Civility".

Title: *Etiquette*
Post by: *Prof Marvel* on *October 22, 2009*
After no little cogitation on the subject, I posted this missive on
another of my favorite electronical villages, and thought I might share
it here for your edification, entertainment, and commentary.

What is a Gentleman?

A Gentleman is chivalrous, polite, clean in body and mind, well groomed
to the best of his ability. His attire may not be costly, but it will always be clean and neat.

He defends and suports the downtrodden both in word and action; he does
not abuse or bully; nor will he tolerate abuse or bullying of others.

He will not start a fight nor will he escalate a disagreement into one.
He will do his best to avoid a fight, but he will not run from one.

A Gentleman respects Ladies in all ways, and will never disrespect a
woman by word or deed.

A Gentleman may not agree with others but respects the opinions of
others and the rights of others to those opinions.

A True Gentleman puts the comfort of others in the room above his own
comfort,  making them comfortable mentally as well as physically,
putting them at ease by avoiding topics that would put them ill at ease

This is about more than simply "good manners" - good manners are just a starting point.
A Gentleman never seeks amusement at another's expense: a Gentleman
never "baits" not bullies his companions nor does he enjoy "making them squirm".

"Jokes" are all well and good, but "Hazing" is not. Hazing often leads to injury and has a
streak of meanness about it! Group Mocking is more "bullying" and I will not tolerate it.

A whoopie cushion is a joke; tacks on the chair or in the shoes is a "beating offense" .

Anyone who tampers with my gear does so at their own certain peril; I will not abide by it.

I myself will not stand by and watch another person "prank" another fellow's equipment.
A common example of a "practical joke"  is a blacksmith tossing a penny into his competitors fire,
thus contaminating the entire days work and ensure that no weld will "take". This "prank" is
not funny, is is plain and simple sabotage and theft. The perpetrator claims it is "just a joke"
but it is causing mischief at another's expense, costing him time and money.

Further, I will not stand by and allow a person to abuse a woman, child, or animal.

If necessary, I will (and have) imposed myself betwixt a bully (or gang) and another individual being bullied.
The most common retort is "it's only a joke" whereupon I reply "Not on my watch it isn't" .

The old Buddhist and Physician's rule comes tomind: "Above all else, do no harm"

This being said, one also has to know when to stand up to a bully, and what it
means to have undaunted courage. Living as a true gentleman is a far more complicated
endeavour than it may at first appear on the surface. There is a depth to it which
goes right to the bone. It has little to do with having money, or position...there are
gentlemen in rags, and brigands in velvet and lace. It has been said that a person's
character is largely set in stone by the age of five years, and being a gentleman is
all about character. Sometimes I think one is born to it, that, like artistic talent,
one either has it, or one does not. Technique can be learned, and the outward appearance
of a gentleman can be simulated, but the facade will crack under pressure. A true
gentleman will never break, and will go to the grave with his principles intact.

I leave you with the writings of Two True Gentlemen greater than I can hope to be:

Definition of a Gentleman
by Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College, 1865 to 1870 (yes, that one)

The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the
manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a
test of a true gentleman.

The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the
employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the
confiding, even the clever over the silly - the forbearing or
inoffensive use of all of this power or authority, or a total abstinence
from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light.
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender
of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he
can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of
character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the
past. A true man of honor feels humbled when he cannot help humbling others.

"The Definition of a Gentleman"
by Cardinal Newman, from The Idea of a University, a series of lectures
given in Ireland, 1852.

Hence it is that it is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he
is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as
far as it goes, accurate.

He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the
free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with
their movements rather than takes the initiative himself.

His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts
or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature; like an easy chair
or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue,
though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them.
The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a
jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast --- all
clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or
suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make
every one at his ease and at home.

He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful,
gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can
recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable
allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in
conversation, and never wearisome.

He makes light of favors while he does them, and seems to be receiving
when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled,
never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or
gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with
him, and interprets everything for the best.

He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair
advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp saying for arguments,
or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.
From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage,
that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were
one day to be our friend.

He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well
employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.

He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he
submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is
irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny.

If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect
preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but
less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of
cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength
on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more
involved than they find it. He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but
he is too clear-headed to be unjust; he is as simple as he is forcible,
and as brief as he is decisive. Nowhere shall we find greater candor,
consideration, indulgence: he throws himself into the minds of his
opponents, he accounts for their mistakes. He knows the weakness of
human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.

If he be an unbeliever, he will be too profound and large-minded to
ridicule religion or to act against it; he is too wise to be a dogmatist
or fanatic in his infidelity. He respects piety and devotion; he even
supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he
does not assent; he honors the ministers of religion, and it contents
him to decline its mysteries without assailing or denouncing them. He is
a friend of religious toleration, and that, not only because his
philosophy has taught him to look on all forms of faith with an
impartial eye, but also from the gentleness and effeminacy of feeling,
which is the attendant on civilization.

prof marvel

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~~~~~Professor Algernon Horatio Ubiquitous Marvel The First~~~~~~
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Buffalo Creek Law Dog
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 09:35:16 am »


It don't take such a lot o' laws to keep the rangeland straight
  Nor books to write 'em in, cause there are only six or eight
The fist one is the Welcome Sign, written deep in western hearts
  My camp is yours and yours is mine in all cow country parts
Treat with respect all womankind, same as you would your sister
  Care for neighbors' strays you find, and don't call cowboys "Mister"
Shut the pasture gates when passing through, an' taken all in all
  Be just as rough as pleases you, but never mean nor small
Talk straight, shoot straight; never break your word to man nor boss
  Plumb always kill a rattlesnake; don't ride a sore-back hoss
It don't take law nor pedigree to live the best you can
  These few is all it takes to be a cowboy an' - a man!


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Dave Rodgers

« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 02:32:04 pm »

Law Dog,

As much as I'd like people to follow a more simplified code, most people nowadays don't even get the subtle meaning as to what "talk straight" or "be a good man" actually means.  You know; I know; likely most here knows, but a lot of people my age (40s) and younger, don't.  More disturbing is that number of those ignorant to these values appears to be growing.

Everyone here is on the same page about how many adults out there are already so oblivious that they need to have the law laid down by the event organizers as well as the panels of the various associations.

If we care about passing on this tradition to the future generations, its time that we stop looking at gen-X and millennials like a bunch of emasculated skinny-jeans wearing softies but the heirs of a great tradition.  This stuff is not being taught anymore and if we don't want to go extinct after each of us get too old to do this, we really need to lay down a clear understanding for those to come and then mentor them to join our ranks, live the life of this rewarding pursuit with us and then accept the torch from us when we're through carrying it.

That's the Marketing Director side of me and the Historical Enthusiast side of me speaking in unison.


Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.
Ben Beam
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2017, 03:45:59 pm »

"The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise." Sound familiar? It should--Socrates said it over two thousand years ago, and I'm sure he wasn't the first. The truth is, every generation has a different set of problems than the one before. Maybe you fought in a war. Maybe you fought for civil rights. Today's younger generation finds that they graduate from college saddled with so much debt that they'll never be able to own a home, while they pay into social security they may never see. Their concerns are different.

I believe a little less judgment and a little more compassion are what are needed. This thread seems to me a bit heavy on the former and a bit light on the latter.

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Dave Rodgers

« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2017, 04:30:49 pm »

That's exactly what I have been driving at Old School.  This hobby has been so adversarial toward the young, we have essentially driven most of them off when we should have been encouraging and sharing.  As a young teen, my first impression of reenactors was that they were old, surly and unfriendly towards what I thought were innocent questions.  Can millennials get snotty?  Sure but the same can be said about people of any age.  A good example was when I watched a bunch of old guys ride a new recruit right out of the hobby over social media.  Had they taken the time to know this "Kid", they'd have learned that he was a 26 year old combat veteran who had just returned from his third deployment and looking for a fun hobby now that he was coming out of the service.

In my case, it took a "big brother" type friend who encouraged me to really get into the swing of things.  By my 4th event the Boss of our Outfit told one of the guys (about me).  "You don't need to tell Rodgers about that; he's one of us now and already knows what needs to get done."  That was pivotal.  It was only my 4th event but from the time I walked into that outfit's camp, they made me one of their own and expected me to carry my weight.  I never forgot that and made sure I wouldn't let them down.  I was previously a troubled teen with a history but between those guys and a pastor with the department of juvenile corrections, I managed to turn my life around and spent many years in a fun, rewarding hobby to boot.


Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2018, 12:49:54 am »

The passing on of traditions and a philosophy about roles in the world is what interests me. I find that youngsters want to be respected and heard. I've put antique weapons in their hands, a shovel or an axe as well, and shared stories and tales. Gone to their school functions, helped out when I could. Whether it makes a difference? We'll see. A few years back I drug around a pair of boys for several years. Let em use my tools, took them camping, and shooting and dirtbike riding. One is a crew chief in a Huey unit at Camp Pendleton now, the other is a sometimes drug-dealer and general no-account. But both of them will look me in the eye and I've never had anything go missing on account of trusting those boys.
Now my daughter is bringing around a new fellow. He writes code for computers, makes ridiculous money and drives a sports car. But when they come up to the cabin (in her 4x4 Ford!), he loves everything we do there, is helpful and cheerful and loves the old stories and guns, and I tell him how much I appreciate his kindness and respect for my daughter. And we'll see where this goes. Point is, any of those kids could have been turned away with harsh words or criticism. But as I was raised up to do, I look for the good and the decent, commend it and invite them to join me in manly work AND play. Never fails to get me another young friend.

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Dave Rodgers

« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2018, 02:02:23 am »

Great insight Scrubby. I agree that sharing the lifestyle of rugged individuality builds character and while it does not guarantee an individual will always follow a law-abiding lifestyle, It definitely does more good than not.

I enjoyed the testimonial.


Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.
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