Eagle Scouts: Boy Scouts of America
1,248 Boy Scouts achieved the Eagle Scout Rank in 2011
213,825 service hours were invested in our communities through their service projects
$3,496,043 were the dollars these service projects helped to save in Arisona’s communities
I thought I would share a recent experience in our family in the hopes that it encourages others to take advantage of this experience as well. Once my younger son reached first grade he entered the Boy Scouts of America as a Cub Scout in the “Tiger” group. Nine years later he has earned to coveted rank of Eagle Scout. Much has happened in those nine years.
The Boy Scouts of America are for Boys under the age of 18. In other words, boys have until the age of 18 to reach the Eagle rank. Only 2% of all scouts who join scouts actually reach the Eagle rank. So, many start and few stick with it. I can proudly say that my younger son not only reached the rank of Eagle, but did so by the age of 14. He has not dedicated the remaining time in scouts (up until the age of 18) to helping his troop and his fellow scouts to also reach this goal.
Why do I write about this? Simply, to encourage all those out there that have boys between the ages of 7 and 18 to get involved in scouting. It is also a great way to help build community. As I mentioned at the top, scouts performed over 213,825 hours of community service in 2011 alone. Ages: Cub scouts runs between the ages of 7 and 10 years old (or having completed the 5th grade). Boy Scouts runs between 6th grade and the age of 18.
There are so many milestones within the scouting program along with all the great rank advancements and achievements. I have been a Scoutmaster and/or assist. Scoutmaster for 9 years, going on 10. Each year we see a group of cub scouts “crossover” from cub scouts all wide eyed and inexperienced. Almost every one of them are completely different by the time a year has passed. Why? Because they begin to gain confidence. Confidence in themselves and in how they can effect the world around them.
1) Our troop happens to be “boy lead.”
This means that the adult leaders are simply there to keep everyone safe and to help guide the scout leaders behind the scenes. We are never out front. I fully encourage you to seek out a boy lead troop in your area. Keep in mind that it will be very frustrating to you as a parent and adult. You will witness some of the most unorganized meetings you have ever seen. It will feel like they are doing everything wrong or accomplishing nothing at meetings. However, I can tell you after ten years of participating that it can be the most rewarding experience for both you and your son if you take the long view.
In our case, the Scoutmaster meets with the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) each week (usually by phone). They review what needs to get done and it gives the SPL an opportunity to get adult guidance. The SPL then leads the weeks meeting without the adults stepping in. Any issues that arise can be dealt with in the next weeks call with the Scoutmaster. Again, it is amazing how the transformation happens over time.
2) Outdoor Program.
Boy scouts was described by Lord Baden Powell (creator of the scout program) as a game with a purpose and an outdoor program.
That means the whole purpose is to get kids out into the great outdoors to have fun. It is not about holding meetings and power struggles over leadership. It is about getting to know the world around you. Understanding how you fit in and how you can deal with situations. And, above all… having FUN!
We hear a lot about getting kids away from video games. I think there is no better way than to get out and go camping, fishing, hiking… starting campfires, learning about animals, stars, and so much more.
Oh, and yes… Outdoor program means camping. Our troop camps every month. We meet in August to plan the year. Each month a scout takes on the task to arrange the trip. We get outside and camp. As leaders we get to see the scouts enter scouting afraid to be in a tent by themselves. Before you know it we see the same scouts acting embarrassed at the mere mention they need a parent even on the trip. Along with being scout lead we promote the patrol method. This helps scouts rely upon their scout leadership rather than run to an adult at every turn. We simply over see things from a safety perspective.
3) Scout Committee:
A scouting program requires a sponsoring organization to file for the charter. In many cases this is a church. The church appoints a charter representative. The charter representative coordinates with the scout/troop committee. This is usually parent volunteers. The committees job is to coordinate with the Scoutmaster to make sure they are supporting the troop in the way they need (financially, etc.). The committee chair can arrange for any number of committee positions based upon the needs of the troop. The scoutmaster is the link between the committee and the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL). In our case, the committee meets each month at the same time that the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meets. The PLC is a meeting between all the patrol leaders to coordinate the months activities.
So that is a bit of the lay-of-the-land on the structure.
This structure allows the scouts to be who they are and to succeed. The whole program is about success. At every turn, a scout can succeed. They can go on their first camping trip (success), they can plan their own meals (success), they can cook their first meals in the outdoors (success), they can start their first campfire (success), they can tell their first stories around the campfire to their fellow scouts (success), they can earn any number of ranks and merit badges (success), they can attend summer camps (success), they can learn to navigate a compass course (success), they can learn how to make their own bow string and to shoot a bow an arrow (success), They can learn how to shoot target sports (success), they can learn about the plants and animals around them (success), you get the idea… I could go on for hours. (success).
There are many different types of troops around. Some boy lead, some not. I would encourage you to visit different troops to see what your scout likes. Please, please do not make your decision upon whether you feel the meetings are run well. If they are doing it right… then the meetings will feel like a disaster. Please recognize what is “actually” happening. Everyone knows that you (the adult) would be a great scout. What needs to happen is have all the adults standing back with their hands in their pockets. If you see this, you know you have an adult team that “gets it.” In fact, it is the first thing BSA teaches adult leaders when we take the adult leadership training. It is called the scoutmaster stance (hands in pockets). As I said, during a meeting is NOT the time to step in. The adult contact happens behind the scene with the troop leadership if they ask. Sometimes just learning to ask is a major advancement for a youngster.
Another reason… and a very important reason is that scouts get involved with their community. We need to build strong communities. Strong communities helps everyone. Scouts are a resource for organizations and individuals. Troops are always looking for ways to get involved. In fact, it is part of their advancement. They need to have community service hours for their ranks. This helps scouts see the need to give back to and get to know their own community. These experiences help them better understand the world they are living in.
To wrap up thoughts on Eagle Scouts. It is sad that only 2% of those who start actually reach the goal of Eagle Scout. It is a very attainable goal. It is a goal that once reached is something that never leave the scout nor the experience and confidence attained. The Eagle Scout rank does not demonstrate that a scout “did” do something, but rather that they “can” do.
We are not only proud of our son who reached this goal, but that he learned how to stick with his goals and all the wonderful lessons he learned along the way. I have to add… I’m not sure who got more out of it. My son, the Eagle Scout or me as the adult volunteer. It has meant a great deal to us both. I encourage you to get involved too.
Here are a few things my son achieved and that your son can too.
1) Completed all ranks of Cub Scouts (Tiger, Bears, Wolf, Webelo I, Webelo II)
2) Arrow of light (signifies that scout “crossed over” from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts)
3) Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, Eagle, Palm (Palms are higher degrees of Eagle scouts)
4) Graduate of National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT)
5) Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)
6) Assist. Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL)
7) Patrol Leader
8) Expert marksman (NRA award through summer camp)
9) Summer camps (multiple years)
10) 21 required merit badges for Eagle scout rank
11) Additional merit badges
12) Open Water Scuba diving certification
13) learned how to sail a small boat
14) Learned how to navigate a compass course even at night
15) Learned how to build a survival shelter and sleep in it overnight
16) Learned CPR
17) Learned first aid procedures
18) Learned how our government works
19) Learned how to handle a firearm safely
20) Learned about conservation
21) Learned how to live a community service life
22) Learned how to lead a group of fellow scouts
23) Learned how to think beyond their own needs and think of the needs of others
24) Learned how to plan, organize, and follow a leadership structure
25) Camped in the outdoors every month for years.
26) Camped in the snow in temp. that dropped below 0º. (this took planning!).
27) Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (this took physical fitness)
And Sooo much more.
I know the BSA program gets negative press from time to time. It is important for those that do not know the program from the inside out to hear and learn about the program. It is one of the best programs I know to help young boys become young men with a solid understanding of themselves and a strong sense of citizenship.
Please support the Boy Scouts of America when you can. If a scout comes by your door asking for help, give it to them. If your organization that you are involved in needs help. Call upon your local troop. If they dont respond, find another troop. ALL SCOUTING IS VOLUNTEER. That means each troop can be run differently. If you have an issue with one troop, find another. Troops are only as strong as the volunteers that run them. Keep in mind that the adult volunteers change over time too as their scouts advance or drop out. Get involved and make it a great troop. Your scout will change positively before your eyes.
Join in, make a difference.
Congratulations to the Eagle Scout class of 2012. Great job!
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