A Scout Salute to “The Other 98”
My column in this issue is a little different from others. No questions or answers this time. Just a few thoughts about what it means to be an Eagle Scout, and what it means to not be. And this is really about the “not be’s.”
You’ve probably heard that “only two Scouts (or only four, depending on your source) out of a hundred make it all the way to Eagle.” Yes, whether it’s two or four, or even some other number but close to these, that’s still pretty rarified air, where those Eagles fly.
But what about those other 98 or 96 or so? Are they “grounded” forever? Short-changed in some way? “Missing” something critical to success? I really don’t think so.
Let’s look at some facts here…
The Boy Scouts have “Aims & Methods.” There are 8 “methods” in Scouting – things like the Scouting Ideals as found in the Oath and Law, the Patrol Method, Outdoors, Personal Growth, Leadership, and so on. Advancement is certainly oneof these eight – but only one.
Now, let’s look at the Boy Scout ranks – there are seven of them from “Scout” to “Eagle.”
So let’s do a little math. If a boy (like your own son, maybe) becomes a Life Scout, he will have been exposed to six-sevenths of one of the eight “Methods,” and (we hope) all seven of the rest.
Maybe I need a new calculator, but that sounds like 98% of the program Scouting has in mind! And this means that even if a boy never makes it past the beginning rank of “Scout,” but he goes hiking and camping, learns from his Scoutmaster’s modeling, lives the Oath and Law, and so on, he’s going to be getting nearly 90% of what Scouting has to deliver. Hey, 90% of anything’s pretty good, I think! That’s usually an “A” in school, or close to it! Not bad for a“non-Eagle”!
So, for those Scouts or former Scouts who are Life, Star, First Class, Second Class and even Tenderfoot, when someone asks you your rank, please don’t put the word “only” in front of it or start staring at your shoes – You have nothing to be ashamed of and much to be very proud of! And this Country has much to thank you for! Because you are or were a Scout.
The “Scouting Statistics” tell us that, of the 233 men who became NASA astronauts, 133 had been Scouts and of these 33 reached the rank of Eagle. That’s certainly commendable for those 33, but how about those 100 Tenderfoot-through-Life Scouts who became astronauts! Doesn’t this begin to tell us clearly that just being a Scout is truly what matters most!
So, the next time someone tells you that Eagle’s all that matters, you can tell ‘em to take a better look around. We’ve had some 100 million American boys who, since 1910, have been Boy Scouts, and I really don’t think 98 million of them – us! – have had some sort of inferior experience. In fact, maybe these guys had a little less “pressure” and a lot more fun!
And now, a little message for parents. Maybe your son’s a little less interested in being an Eagle Scout than you! If that happens, maybe you’d better start checking your priorities! You son can have a “mountaintop experience”in many ways in Scouting, and Eagle is just one of these – it’s not the onlyway.
So, let’s salute all Scouts – 98 plus 2 – who get involved and stay with this wonderful movement. Scout-ing can truly last a lifetime, no matter what rank anyone is! Sure, most of us know about some pretty famous Eagle Scouts, like Sam Walton, James Lovell, Hank Aaron, Gerald Ford, and Steven Spielberg. But how about some “not-quite-Eagles,” like John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Stewart, Harrison Ford, Merlin Olson, Richard Gere, Bill Gates, and a not-quite British Queen’s Scout by the name of Paul McCartney! Nuff said!
Have a question? Send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Issue 6 – November 2002)