Just last year, I became an Eagle Scout. For those of you who don’t know, Eagle is the highest rank a boy scout can achieve. This is a huge achievement for any boy, and not an easy goal to achieve. To put things in perspective, only four percent of all registered Boy Scouts ever become an Eagle Scout.
I know I have just become an Eagle Scout, but I already see the positive impact it has on my life. I have learned an invaluable set of skills that I would not have had the opportunity to learn anywhere else. I have learned skills that I can use to not only help myself but help others as well.
The Scout Law states that “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Most scouts try their best to follow the Scout Law throughout their lives. For Eagle Scouts, there is an expectation that the individual will uphold the Scout Law in their daily lives.
To become an Eagle Scout, there are many requirements a scout has to fulfill. These range from camping to community service to twenty-one merit badges that the scout has to earn. Most of the required merit badges are very specific, but a few are left up to the choice of the scout from a selection of over one hundred merit badges.
Through the required nights of camping, a scout develops an appreciation for nature. All scouts are taught Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics that scouts follow. Scouts learn to respect nature. They are essentially taught to leave no trace. What that means is that one should follow marked paths and not stray from them. Also, one should leave nature the way they find it. This means that one should always clean up after himself, but also that they should not take anything from nature.
In order to become an Eagle Scout, one must complete an Eagle Project. An Eagle Project is a service project that is planned and lead entirely by the scout. However, the scout is required to log a number of hours of community service before they reach the point of their Eagle Project. For the hours that the scout must complete preceding their Eagle Project, it is not uncommon to volunteer with older scouts Eagle Projects.
A scout must earn 21 merit badges before becoming an Eagle Scout. These merit badges teach young boys skills that will be useful throughout their lives. One example is first aid. Although one may never know when first aid will be needed, these skills can come in handy when one least expects it. For example, there have been countless stories of a boy scout who encountered a situation in their regular activities where they were able to use the first aid skills they learned to save a stranger’s life. Another great merit badge that scouts are required to earn is cooking. While cooking may not be as useful of a skill as first aid, it teaches young boys a skill that they will use almost daily throughout their lives. Many other useful merit badges that scouts are required to earn include, but are not limited to, swimming, camping, personal management, and family life. Some of the merit badges teach skills that will be useful later in life such as personal management and family life, whereas other merit badges teach skills that will be very useful, but scouts never know when they might require these skills.
The Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily”. This is something that Eagle Scouts try their best to uphold every day of their life. A good turn does not have to be something huge like donating large sums of money or volunteering many hours for a charity. A good turn could be something as simple as holding the door for someone, picking up something that someone dropped, or even the cliched helping an old lady (or really anyone in need) cross the street. Every day when I am ready to go to sleep I ask myself one simple question. What was my good turn for the day? We are not always making a conscious effort to do a good turn, but we end up doing one anyways because that is one of the essential values that all Eagle Scouts grew up on.
There is a saying that goes, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.” This means that once someone becomes an Eagle Scout, they will forever be an Eagle Scout. You never say someone WAS an Eagle Scout because they will ALWAYS be an Eagle Scout. No matter how old they are. The reason you say that someone was the soccer champion is because they may not be as good at soccer as they used to be. However, the skills and life lessons that one learns on their Journey to becoming an Eagle Scout last with them for a lifetime. That is why when someone becomes an Eagle Scout, they become a member of a brotherhood for life. Through this brotherhood, all Eagle Scouts, no matter how old or how young, are brought together through an eternal bond that is formed between fellow Eagle Scouts from any and all generations. This is why Scouting is so important, and why being an Eagle Scout is and will always be an essential part of who I am.