Saturday, May 30, 2015
NOTE: This is a short speech I'll deliver Sunday at an Eagle Court of Honor.
Why is Scouting important?
Thomas S. Monson says it plainly: “Boys do become men.”
“How many boys have had their lives blessed – even saved – by the Scout movement begun by Lord [Robert] Baden-Powell? Unlike others memorialized within the walls of Westminster Abbey, Baden-Powell had neither sailed the stormy seas of glory, conquered in conflict with armies of men, nor founded empires of worldly wealth. Rather, he was a builder of boys, one who taught them well how to run and win the race of life,” Monson says.
There are many schools and organizations and individuals and movements that help turn boys into men. I can point to a high school teacher who helped inspire a love of writing. I can look to a father and a brother who taught me the value of hard work. I can look to another brother who inspired in me a deep love of reading, and a mother who taught compassion and service. All of these individuals helped turn this boy into a man.
Scouting, too, has done its work. I remember in particular my Scoutmaster, Scott Haroldsen, who coaxed me to the top of Table Rock as a young scout. I can remember my Varsity Coach, Eric Haroldsen, who taught me how to enjoy the circumstances life hands you. I’ll never forget the Tarzan yell he bellowed before jumping into Leigh Lake, inspiring his Varsity scouts to get out of their tents in the rain and go for a swim.
All of these individuals helped me achieve Scouting’s highest honor, Eagle Scout.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is more than earning the required number of merit badges, going on the requisite number of campouts, pedaling the required number of miles on a bicycle or hiking the required number of miles.
Becoming an Eagle Scout means becoming different than others, and in a good and humbling way.
“Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard,” says Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” fame. “Personally, and for whatever it’s worth,” he adds in a letter he wrote to a young Scout, “the best decisions I’ve made in my own life are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the opera, working in home shopping, starring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification.”
“I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity,” Rowe concludes in his letter, “or if you have the passion to follow the road less-traveled. Only you get to decide that.”
When boys choose to become Eagles, they choose the road less-traveled.
Boys do become men, because of the things they decide to do.
Boys often become men when they learn that setting goals and working to obtain them is part of becoming men, is part of winning the prize, as King Mosiah says in the Book of Mormon: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
Prizes are often won through taking that road less-traveled.
What are some of the other less-traveled roads men take?
Men take roads that lead to stable marriages and happy families.
Men take roads to productive careers.
Men take roads to years’ worth of service to others.
Men learn. And men pass on what they learn to others.
Many men travel these roads. But fewer travel these roads and work hard with their partners to make the good better, and the best awesome. More on that later.
Boys do become men, and one of the ways they become men is through Scouting.
Scouting – like school, like families, like marriages, like society – is facing challenges as an organization, from both within and without. And I believe that Scouting, like schools, families, marriages, and society, will find ways to face up to the challenges it faces and maintain its ability to build men.
Scouting will come up with ways to face up to its challenges because boys do become men, and men contribute to the organizations and individuals and movements that helped build them. Eagle Scouts become Scoutmasters, fathers, employees, managers, bishops, and fathers.
A friend of mine says “Scouting is more than just a uniform and some campouts. It is more than badges and patches and rank advancements. Scouting is a way of life. If we truly live by the 12 points of the Scout Law and we take the Scout Oath for more than just a saying to ramble through, we have become something and someone that is great. Scouting takes the average and makes it great. It takes the good and makes it better. It takes the great and makes it awesome.”
Boys do become men. And men do work to help boys become what they choose to be. I don’t know what your future holds for you, Ethan, but I know if you give to your future what you have given thusfar to Scouting, you will be one of those boys that become men. That is why Scouting is important – because it’s important to you.