Have you ever thought, “Wow! I wish I’d said that!” Well here’s one that, for me, fits that category. It’s from long-time loyal reader, Jason Orton. Jason’s message can stand by itself today, and be remembered by us all for the future…
Another great issue of Ask Andy this week! Each one is a treasure trove of great information and advice. I was particularly touched by the concern of the leaders about the young man with a difficult background who is going to be a day short of the time required to earn Eagle, due to his own decision to miss the board of review for his Life Scout rank.
Those leaders who helped this young man reach Life, and also encouraged him to stay active in Scouting through age 17-1/2, should be commended for helping this young man have a wonderful Scouting experience. I can only imagine the wonderful Scouting experiences this young man had, the things that he has learned, the friends he has made, the outings he has been on, the adventures he has been on, and the leadership opportunities that scouting gave him. He will enter adulthood in a few months, ahead of his peers in many ways and equipped with knowledge and skills that will benefit him throughout life. He is indeed a “Scout for Life”—something he and his leaders should be proud of.
Not every young man will earn Eagle, but I find it very comforting to know that his Scout leaders were so dedicated to giving him every opportunity possible to reach his Scouting goals. Too often, I read your column and am saddened by stories of leaders placing road blocks in the way to a Scout’s success for petty reasons.
I think these great leaders, who worked very hard for this Scout, need to see the big picture and understand that this Scout is not “done” with Scouting—he has six more months to learn and grow. Then, he has the opportunity to become a Scout leader, or even continue in a Venturing crew, where he’ll have continued opportunities for learning and recognitions, if he so chooses.
Even if he had become an Eagle Scout, this would only be a milestone along his Scouting journey; Eagle isn’t the final destination. Too many see the attainment of the Eagle Scout rank as the “end of the road” in Scouting, but it only becomes that when others treat it as an end-point. The “secret” of Scouting is that there’s no final destination—Scouting is a life-long journey of opportunities and experiences which, I believe, the Life Scout rank itself represents so well.
One of my best friends never became an Eagle Scout: he did make it all the way to Life, however, and this is very important—perhaps more important than we realize or recognize. He once told me that he regretted not being an Eagle. I told him that, as a Life Scout, he’s a Scout for Life. I reminded him that during his time in Scouting he participated in every activity, opportunity, and experience that the program intends for a Scout to enjoy. I pointed out that his accomplishments after Scouting are proof-positive that the program helped him throughout his life to reach his full potential.
You see, he’d served over 20 years of active duty military service and then reserve service, where he worked with at-risk youth in a National Guard youth academy, and then went on to serve as the State of California’s Command Sergeant Major—the highest-ranking NCO in the entire state!—where he helped improve programs for soldiers and airmen. During his active duty time he had many achievements, including graduating from Airborne and Air Assault schools, earning foreign marksmanship and fitness awards, and multiple awards for outstanding service. He got to serve in East Germany and in Korea. He spent part of his military career as an Army Musician, and played for Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Monarchs around the world. In short, he had a truly amazing career of service that most people can’t even imagine experiencing.
I also reminded him that he currently plays multiple classical instruments, participates in several local area bands, performs in public concerts, and has played “Taps” at several hundred funerals for veterans (he earned the state’s Honor Guard badge in the process).
I believe my friend’s other accomplishments, as well as the service he continues to render to others today, are the direct result of the lessons he learned in his journey to become a Life Scout many years ago. I also believe his life would be very different had it not been for Scouting.
This current young man and his leaders shouldn’t feel badly about his not becoming an Eagle, but, instead, take great pride and joy seeing what Scouting did for his life. The fruits of their efforts may not be visible at the moment, but a lifetime of opportunities and achievements are open to every young man because of Scouting and dedicated leaders such as he’s had along his journey. (Jason Orton)
Happy Scouting, Folks –
Have a question? Facing a dilemma? Wondering where to find a BSA policy or guideline? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and council. (If you’d prefer to be anonymous, if published, let me know and that’s what we’ll do.)
[No. 532 – 5/23/2017 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2017]