My son Charlie has just achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with Troop 158. We are very proud of his accomplishment and he came away with a lifetime of memories during this journey. Compared to sports, Scouting gives a parent and child the opportunity to both be on the playing field at the same time. I have had a wonderful time in all the years with my boys at Scouts. In thinking back, here are the life lessons that I think Charlie has learned and can apply during his lifetime:
Sometimes it takes a long time to get rewarded. Charlie started back in Cub Scouts at Pack 68 ten years ago which is a long time for a 17 year old. Earning Eagle wasn’t the goal from day one, but it has been part of our conversation especially the last few years. He had to complete merit badges, community service, leadership, and an Eagle project. Charlie has learned by working hard and having a plan a lot can be accomplished. The same lesson can be used on saving for retirement, a house or even a big vacation.
The value of mentors. Scouting gives boys an opportunity to interact in a variety of ways with adult leaders and other Scouts in various scenarios. The Scoutmasters in the picture above, along with other adult leaders and even other Scouts have helped Charlie along with way. They have taught him how to tie a knot, earn a merit badge, or how to lead a patrol. The best moment is when I saw my son begin to be a mentor for younger Scouts. He showed them how to pack for a campout and to cook a meal in a Dutch oven. Always, look for people that you can learn from and trust.
Have fun and make memories – Scouting was not just merit badges and meetings for Charlie. He was able to canoe, mountain bike, rock climb, hike 80 miles, experience Swamp Augustine, lead the Troop, and have a deer bump his hammock in the middle of the night. Enjoy the opportunities that life gives you. Don’t be afraid to save and spend money on great experiences.
Be a Leader – Charlie was first elected patrol leader which gave him the responsibility to lead his patrol of 5 boys. When his patrol wasn’t being a very good listeners he confided in me that being a patrol leader was a lot of work. He learned from that experience and was elected Senior Patrol Leader for the entire troop (50 boys). Being a leader isn’t always fun and will entail hard work.
Learning from failing. Not everything goes as planned and in Scouting we hope that happens a lot. Experiences like last place in Pinewood Derby, a collapsing tent in the middle of the night, getting lost on a mountain trail, or not getting elected to a Scouting position. Scouting has given Charlie an opportunity to fail, to accept the failure, and to learn from it.
Doing your homework – Be Prepared is the Scout Motto and that goes from planning meetings to meal planning. If you are going to be camping in zero degree weather, you have better know what to bring and how to deal with the elements. There are going to be a lot of decisions during his lifetime, and Scouting has helped him to prepare to make the right decisions.
Lastly just a comment from a parent that has two sons actively involved in Scouting. I have had a great time and amazing experiences that Scouting has given us. From camping in pastures outside of town to climbing mountains in New Mexico, I have seen my young Cub Scouts grow into fine young man and a lot of it has to do with their involvement in Scouting. Leadership, confidence, responsibility, public speaking, problem solving are some of the skills that have come about. So, if you have elementary or middle school children and if you want to be active with them, try out Scouting.