Over a half-century ago, an eleven year-old Boy Scout started walking home from an evening troop meeting. It was already dark, and the double doors that served as an entrance to the school gymnasium had been propped open as the meeting ended. A shaft of light was cast down the athletic field from the open doors, in the direction of the young Scout’s travel. The boy, not raised in a religious home, nevertheless had a mystical feeling as he walked down the pathway of light, wondering to himself when he would become an Eagle Scout. The operative word was “when,” not “if.” He knew deep inside. There was no doubt. He was going to be an Eagle Scout.
The boy, not overly ambitious, nevertheless plugged away at his advancement requirements, just one step at a time. He achieved First Class Scout within a year, overcoming what he considered the most daunting requirement, sending and receiving Morse code. In those days, merit badges were for Scouts of First Class rank and above, and aside from summer camp, there were no merit badge classes. Each merit badge represented a call to a merit badge counselor and several meetings.
The boy was shy, and in the beginning it was extremely hard to pick up the telephone and call an adult that he did not know. He would sit be the phone for five minutes, gathering up the courage to call. But it was the only way to get the merit badge, so he pushed himself to make contact (and was pleasantly surprised to find a friendly adult on the other end.) In addition to the merit badges he earned at summer camp every year, he added another 3 or 4 merit badges a year on his own. The telephone calling became easier.
When the boy was 13, a new requirement for Eagle Scout was instituted, an Eagle Scout Service Project. He tackled the project like he had tackled all his merit badges, just one step at a time. It was just like climbing a steep mountain, one foot in front of the other, sometimes stopping to catch his breath or take a break. And at age 15, a little more than four years after he was inducted as a Tenderfoot Scout, the boy successfully passed his Eagle Scout board of review. The young man was pleased, of course, but not particularly surprised. It felt nice to be at the top.
There are three lessons in this true story that can help you reach Eagle rank:
Do you know that you are going to be an Eagle Scout? That is probably the most important step to Eagle – the attitude that Eagle Rank belongs to you, and that you will do whatever it takes to get there. If you are reading this, Eagle Scout is probably part of your future. Why else would you be at this website? Maybe you have heard the phrase, “Fake it until you make it.” That’s what I would like you to do now. Picture yourself as an Eagle Scout, and begin to act the part.
A very important trait to acquire along the way is perseverance. This means to develop an attitude that you will keep going no matter how many times you are knocked down. The boy in this story had setbacks and disappointments, and he also had very little support at home. But each time, he eventually found a way around his problems, and continued his journey on the Eagle trail.
And finally, this boy had a mystical sense that Eagle Scout was part of his destiny. Whatever your faith, I urge you to make your intentions known, ask for guidance, and put the outcome in God’s hands. As I have said to many Scouts that I have coached, “There are millions and millions of people in the world who have made outstanding contributions to our planet and humanity who were NOT Eagle Scouts.” So perhaps Eagle rank is not part of your path, nor is it necessary.
But share your intention with God, the Universe, Source, Jesus, or whatever your faith may dictate. And ask for help. I think you will be surprised at the power of this act. If you have not been raised in a faith (like the boy in this story), find a quiet time, close your eyes, and create a mental picture of yourself as an Eagle Scout. Express gratitude for all that has been given to you. Then ask for the guidance and wisdom to make the Eagle Scout rank possible. (I find my prayers are more powerful when I say them aloud rather than just think them – perhaps you will too.)
Your journey starts with attitude. With the wrong attitude, everything will be difficult. With the right attitude, you can do almost anything!
(As you may have suspected, the boy in the story was this Eagle coach! I have no photographs of myself at age 11 in a Scout uniform, but the Scout in the picture above is wearing a 1960’s Boy Scout uniform.)
NEXT Scout to First Class