I got word in early January of this year that my cousin’s son, Nate, was to become an Eagle Scout.
I wrote and congratulated him. To be a Boy Scout is rare. There are less than 3 million Boy Scouts in the United States out of potential of 20 plus million. Out those 3 million Boy Scouts, only 2% or 60,000 will reach the rank of Eagle Scout.
Only 2 million young men have become Eagle Scouts since its beginning in 1911.
Why don’t more Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts? I think there are several reasons. The success and growth of Scouting and becoming an Eagle Scout is due to inspiring leaders who are interested in youth. It takes a major commitment to be an effective Scout leader. There maybe a shortage of such leaders.
It also takes interested and supportive parents. With two parents working in many households or single heads of households, this can be a challenge.
Second, Scouting is about the outdoors. Let’s face it, many of us spend over 90% of our time in a “built” environment. The outdoors is an uncomfortable place to many.
Third, today’s youth have so many activities to choose from including sports, music, clubs and other youth programs. Scouting competes with many other possibilities.
Fourth, being a Boy Scout let alone an Eagle Scout may be seen as “uncool.” President Gerald Ford, our 38th President and an Eagle Scout, once was publicly criticized for being “too much of a Boy Scout.” President Ford went back and reviewed the Scout Oath and Scout Law. He said, “ If these are not the goals of the people of the United States want their president to live up to, then I must draw this conclusion: Either you have the wrong man or I have the wrong country, and I don’t believe either is so.”
Fifth, to become an Eagle Scout requires a tremendous amount of perseverance and self-discipline. An Eagle Scout has 5.5 years to work through five ranks, earn 21 merit badges, serve as a leader and complete a service project. As many Scouts approach the age of 16, driving and dating become a distraction to completing the Eagle Award.
I wrote Nate, I had some bad news for him...becoming an Eagle Scout is not the end, but the beginning. I told him he’d chosen to live the Scout Oath, Scout Law and Scout Motto and be a role model to others. It is an awesome responsibility. I suggested he not take it lightly. The world needs leaders and his work in becoming an Eagle Scout is a true foundation in his leadership formation.
Eagle Scouts do not achieve this award by themselves. I asked Nate to make sure he sat down with his mother and father look them in the eye and say "THANK YOU" for their support for being there for him, for believing in him, for helping him achieve this award. Most of all, thank them for being Eagle Scout parents and loving him to be an Eagle. Nate did it, but they were in the background! A second round of thank you’s are in order to his Scoutmaster and those who helped him with merit badges, those he has lead and those who helped him with his service project.
Scouting runs deep in our family. Nate’s Great Grandfather Privette and Grandfather Privette were professional Scouters. I came into the possession of a small hand carved wooden statue of a Scout that belonged to my Grandfather, Nate’s Great Grandfather. I am not sure if my Grandfather carved it or if it a friend of his carved it. It has been sitting on my bookshelf near my reading chair. I have looked at it many times and imagined all kinds of things. I am passing it onto Nate.
The rest of my thoughts are in a short YouTube clip I created for Nate. See