scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Re: puzzled
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@BELLATLANTIC.NET
Sat Apr 15 2000 - 10:35:30 CDT
I started to write that neither you nor I nor anyone else on the list needs
to know about the spectacular achievements of an Eagle Scout. But that
isn't really quite right. More below.
Whether we need to know about the achievement or not though isn't as
important as the need for the young man who has earned the right to be
called an Eagle Scout gets the recognition and support that will help him
shape the rest of his life to the best of his ability.
Sure its fine for folks to have a Court of Honor, present the badge and
offer a few speechs and forget about the Eagle Scout. He will still
treasure the memory and still be proud to be an Eagle. But after time
memories dim and it may seem to be just one thing along the road losing some
of the luster.
When friends, local business people and local leaders recognize the young
man for his accomplishments in letters or with certificates that he keeps,
there is a lasting "testimonial" that he can always turn to to "refresh his
memory" and remember just how proud people are of what he did. This in some
cases may be just enough to spur him on to greater things or keeping him
from taking a wrong turn later on. He doesn't want to let the folks down.
Even at this age I still go back every once in awhile to the letters I got
as a boy from various bank presidents, the police chief, and so on when I
became an Eagle in 1967. It always takes awhile to look them over and each
one stirs a memory. And at the same time it recharges the old batteries -
yes old fellow you can meet life's challenges and do well. Then they go
back into the attic for another look later.
Over the years I think many Scout leaders have recognized that this practice
of congratulating Scouts for their accomplishments has lasting impact that
helps keep the young Eagle on course. Of course with typical Scouting
enthusiasm the practice has expanded to the point where sometimes the
leaders mount a crusade to get every possible letter that can be had. That
may be taking it to an extreme, but the result isn't a bad one. If the
chairman of megacorp can find time to send a note to Johnny Jones, that is
going to still impress the young fellow and over the years he's going to be
thinking that it was pretty special that all those people could find a
little bit of time for him. Likewise he's going to understand that the
reason the wrote is because of what being an Eagle represents to them -
something he will continue to try to live up to for the years ahead. In
plain language the letters become a subtle way of telling the Eagle that
people put their trust in him and have some great expectations. With many
young men this expectation is encouragement to achieve more and go on to
greater accomplishments. If you tell a young man he is capable of greatness
and will achieve it, he just may try twice as hard and actually do it. If
you tell him it is all over and that he has already reached the pinacle, he
knows he can quit and just hang.
With the advent of e-mail communication it has become easy to ask for more
people to send a note of congratulations. Not a bad thing for a boy to know
that his Scouting family extends around the country and the world and that
support for him comes not only from his home in say Oklahoma, but also from
a leader in the Bronx or sunny San Mateo.
As adults we probably can live without knowing of all the wonderful
achievements and do just fine. But we should remember that it is for the
boys that we do this thing called Scouting. If an e-mail announcement and
subsequent congratulations are helpful to the boy's development and to
encouraging him to reach his highest aspirations, then by all means lets
have more of them. :-)
Now to the adult part. What's in it for us when these announcements hit the
list. That depends on me, you, and anyone who reads them. For me it is a
reaffirmation that the program is working. It tells me that their are
wonderful young men out there that are going to be tomorrow's leaders. It
tells me that I shouldn't get depressed when I watch the TV news with all
the stories about twisted teens and bad things. It tells me that there is
hope for our future. It tells me that we can all share a sense of pride
that the many hours of volunteer effort have helped this young man.
If I am a new leader in a new unit that isn't too sure whether everything is
going to work out, it tells me that other people have been able to get it to
work and have had kids that really have shined -- perhaps I can do it too
and maybe I'll work harder. If I'm new to the program, it tells me a little
about how much a young man can really do. If all I've known about kids has
been bad, maybe it helps me change my mind.
It just depends on perspective.
We probably never do enough to brag on all of our Scouts. And I don't just
mean Eagles either. There are lots of boys that do great things that move
away from Scouting after a year, two years, three years and so on without
making Eagle, whose accomplishments merit attention too.
I'd love to hear stories about the Star Scout that learned he could actually
be a leader at Scout Camp and then went on to Captain his soccer team to
victory by using team building skills he learned at Camp RunAmuck. Hearing
about Cub Scout heroes that save a neighbor's child or a Venturing Scout
that goes on to hike the entire AT during college are wonderful things.
These stories are just as important and inspire us all to want to help more.
So tell us about your great Scouts in San Mateo! Tell us about personal
accomplishments that make the time you spend pay off in the best of all
dividends - the knowledge that you have made a difference.
We are a global village. These are our children. Anything we can do to lend
support, encouragement, and help is important. And years later when we are
headed for retirement homes hopefully these are the same young people that
we'll confidently know have good heads on their shoulders to make decisions
that affect future generations, doing better than we did.
Michael F. Bowman firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President, http://usscouts.org
U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.