Re: A Sad Night: Life not making Eagle
Darla Keller (C60DJK1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Wed, 21 Dec 1994 00:56:00 CST
re: A Sad Night: Life not making Eagle
I have many scouts that earned Life and did not complete Eagle. I
would like to share a story on one such boy.
His older brother and the kids in his neighborhood were all Scouts.
He was still in Cubs and counting the days until he could be a boy
scout and going camping and hiking.
On his first campout, a tornado touched down nearby. The district
camporee was evacuated except for a few boys that got in the wrong
car. They stayed the night through the tornado. His parents were
sure that he would never go camping again. They were wrong, he
loved it. He never missed a campout until 8th grade. He almost
left the program due to peer pressure. Some of those friends didn
not finish high school, some got into crime, and eventually jail.
He renewed his interest in Scouting instead. He became ASPL and
then SPL of a troop of 60 boys.
he believed in Scouting and loved the outdoors but advancment wasn't
a great interest. He was a freshman in high school before he even
made First Class, it was the swimming requirement. He hated the
water, hated it! All his friends were being elected into the Order
of the Arrow, he was ineligible. He wasn't First Class. He finally
did his swimming test, and passed, although he was sure he was going
to drown the entire time. He was elected into OA.
Advancment after that came easily. He made Star, then Life. Then
he was confronted with Swimming and Lifesaving MB's. This was way
back when there were no options. He lingered there at Life.
A new change was announced in the advancment program when he was 17.
New requirements for Eagle. Instead of 21 mb's, it was changed to
24, but instead of Swimming you could choose Sports as an option,
instead of Lifesaving you could choose the new Emergency Preparedness
as an option. Suddenly Eagle seemed possible.
He earned Sports and Emergency Preparedness and did his Eagle
Project. He wrote up his paperwork and sent it in. It was sent back
to the troop, unaccepted. The was a technicality.
Before a certain cut off date a Scout must do the old requirements,
after a date they must do the new Eagle requirements, and between
those dates a Scout could choose either. That date was deternined
by when you earned your First Class award. He was near a borderline
date, but he fell on the side requiring him to complete Eagle under
the old requirements. He would have to learn to swim.
Swimming was the hardest merit badge he ever earned. It took many
months to learn the basics. He was a poor swimmer. He just barely
passed the Swimming test a few weeks before his 18th birthday. He
never earned Lifesaving. He didn't make it. He had 33 merit badges
but was a Life Scout.
The boys scoutmaster was on old time Scouter named Harold Snow, but
was known to everyone as "Irish". He was is his mid sixties and had
been a Scoutmaster for about 20 years. He was very respected by all
who knew him. He was the main reason this boy stayed in Scouting.
Irish wanted to see this boy receive his Eagle as much as he had his
own sons. Irish was irrate that a boy could complete the requirement
for Eagle, old or new, and be denied the award. He appealed all the
way to the national office which was in New Jersey at the time.
The boys stayed as an ASM. When the boy was 19 he helped at the
Spring Camporee. Sunday they were loading gear to go home and were
one truck short. Irish and the boy sat waiting for the last truck.
Irish told the boy about the two Eagles in SCouting. One you wear
on your uniform, the other you wear in your heart. Ideally, it
would be great for each boy to hold both Eagles. But if only one
Eagle could be touched, it is the one you wear in your heart that
counts the most. In your heart is your true self, if Scouting
touches you at all, it touches you there.
He told the boy a group of men sitting around a table somewhere had
decided he would never wear an Eagle on his uniform, but it was up
to him and him alone if he would would continue to wear an Eagle in
his heart. About that time a truck drove up and they loaded the last
of the gear and went home.
A month later, the troop was back at the same location for a campout.
Harold "Irish" Snow died that weekend, doing what he loved most,
camping with his boys.
The boy never forgot about the two Eagles in Scouting. He remained
in Scouting as an ASM for the new Scoutmaster, going to the Jamboree.
Because of health reasons that SCoutmaster had to drop, another SM
replaced him. Then he moved away, and there was no SM for the troop.
The troop had dropped from 60 boys to about 9 active Scouts in less
than 4 years.
The committee chairman asked the boy, now 22, to become Scoutmaster.
He didn't want the job, he worked 30 hours/week to support himself
as a full time student. He didn't have time for the SM job, or the
interest. He finally agreed to take it on a temporary basis to keep
the troop alive until they could find someone permanent.
I was that boy, I've been the temporary Scoutmaster of Troop 33 for
18 years now. I may not be too bright, but I sure am patient.
I've never forgot what "Irish" told me that day about the two Eagles.
There have been many boys that have made Eagle, and I am very proud
of each and every one of them. It is a special thrill for me to be
a part of their Eagle. I've also had many Life Scouts that came oh
so close. I've had a few hundred that didn't get close, at least to
an Eagle they can wear on their chest.
To me, every boy that walks into my meeting room deserves the best
program I can give him. Whether he's mine for 7 weeks or 7 years,
whether he never makes it past First Class, I will do everything I c
can to try to touch him with one of the Eagles that Scouting has to
offer. We don't make a difference in boys by what we pin on their
shirts, but what we can instill in their hearts. That is what the
Scouting program is all about. I know. An old irishman told me
that 22 years ago.
I did after all receive two Eagles from Scouting. One Court of
Honor some years back, my Scouts suprised me with an honorary Eagle
Award in the form of a plaque for 25 years in Scouting. It was the
boys idea. The parents got in on it too by presenting me with a gold
eagle on a chain. They also gave me a beautiful letter which said...
Often the most important part of a gift is the letter accompaning i
it. This small gift of a gold eagle and chain for 25 years of
involvement in Scouting is just a token from all of the parents
present and past.
To our sons you have been a model, respecting and accepting each
of them and encouraging their strengths.
You have shown compassion and support. You have demonstrated by
your actions, the values and morals we are trying to build and shape
into their character. You are a part of the dream we have for our
sons. We respect and love you.
Please wear this gold eagle with pride.
The parents of your Scouts
My honorary Eagle was well worth the wait. It means more than the
original one ever could have.
As a boy I was working towards Eagle mainly for my parents and my
scoutmaster. It really wasn't that important to me at the time for
some reason. So I can relate a little to what some Scouts feel when
they don't reach for the highest award in Scouting. I also understand
the regret they will feel some day.
I'm glad Scouting forced me to learn to swim. Everyone should know
how to swim, it is an important skill. I have taken my Scouts to
the Florida Keys many times for snorkeling trips. The kids love it.
If you haven't done it, do it. Underwater is a beautiful place among
the coral reefs. And you know what? Even though I can swim now and
have taken my scouts on many snorkeling trips, to this very day, I
still hate the water!
YIS, Cliff Golden
Three Fires Council, Illinois BSA
I'm sorry if there is empty lines at the end of this.
I don't know why my computer does this.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City