Why I Love The Boy Scouts Of America
I am the man I am today because of the Boy Scouts of America. Almost everything good in my life I can trace back to the impact Scouting made on my life. Tonight, I will end almost 33 years of involvement in this great organization, but it’s influence over me will last the rest of my life.
I told the story of my journey to Eagle Scout in another post. For the ten years, I have served on the Executive Board of the Chattahoochee Council, the last three as Council President. The singular greatest honor of my life is that I was entrusted with this responsibility. While the job has been challenging at times, such as fundraising during a down economy, I am very proud of the job our professional and volunteer staff has done to deliver a quality program to young people.
The deep love and respect I have for this movement started with its effect on me but grew during the time I served as an adult volunteer. Here are just a few things that I admire most:
- Appreciation for the outdoors - When I was a teen-ager, I helped with an older Cub Scout group called the Webelos. The leader, Mr. Beaupre, made sure his scouts respected the woods. Once, when one of the young men hit a living tree with an axe, Mr. Beaupre made him put a band-aid on the tree and give it a kiss. I am willing to bet that kid never used on an axe on a tree again.
- Self reliance- I learned to cook while camping. Not very well, mind you, but I learned that I could do it. By the time I went to college, I felt the confidence to feed myself. I could list several areas like that where the skills I learned in Scouting were the foundation for me to take care of myself in the real world.
- Goal setting - As a young man progresses along the road to Eagle Scout, he learns about goal setting, though he probably doesn’t realize it. He has to have a plan to meet the requirements of each rank, whether he must show proficiency in a skill or earn a merit badge or perform a service project. As he moves up the ranks, the goals get bigger and bigger. Those lessons pay off in spades later.
- Service to others - Service to others is just one of the ways that Scouting benefits a community. Troops, under the leadership of Life Scouts striving towards the Eagle badge, perform countless hours of service, such as rebuilding playgrounds or replenishing food banks. Service becomes second nature to Scouts, even in adulthood.
- The power of mentoring – The legacy of a Scoutmaster reaches beyond his lifetime. I was blessed to have three great Scoutmasters, one of whom is now with the Great Master of All Scouts. While they didn’t appreciate it as boys, many men volunteer to serve as Scout leaders as a way of paying back the mentoring they received from a man who volunteered “just one hour a week” (an inside joke among adult volunteers). That’s the true power of Scouting: the gift that passes from generation to generation.
Tonight, the Council Presidency will pass to a good friend and a fellow Eagle Scout. He’ll do great because he is surrounded by good people, both paid staff and volunteers, who want to make a difference in the life of a boy. From the selfish point of view of a father with two daughters, I hope they are wildly successful.