Whether you’ve sold cookies and earned merit badges or not, there is no denying the impact of the Boy and Girl Scouts on the American Way. Enterprising girls clad in green, and boys with bright smiles, open doors all over the nation and leave an indelible mark on the people of the United States, and have done so for over a century. As a measure of their influence, notable American Scouts include household names such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Neil Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Bruce Jenner, Sally Ride, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a common rite of passage in the early grades, Ben and I recited the Scout’s oath with two fingers- he as a Cub Scout and Webelo, and I as a little Brownie. There is something special and sacred about donning the gold emblems and making a promise out loud to do your best, help others, and be a true patriot. While we didn’t follow the full course of the programs (probably a little too regimented for us as boundary-pushers), there’s no doubt we can be proud to have participated in those formative years.
Beyond those basic activities as school children, we both had a more personal connection to the internationally-recognized youth leadership associations. For Ben, he lived next door to the Girl Scout’s Camp Elliott Barker where he helped tend the grounds as his first summer job. He passed by the esteemed and picturesque Philmont Camp everyday on his way to school where Scouts from all over the country go to push their limits and achieve personal bests in the great outdoors.
— NewMexicoNomad (@505Nomad) June 28, 2017
Turns out that northern New Mexico hosts several Scout camps to include a property just down the road from Sahalee, Rancho del Chapparal. A little more far removed, the family lore on my mother’s side claims that my great grandfather, Lewis Hay from Baltimore, had a hand in operating a Boy Scout camp in Eagle Pass, TX in the early 1900’s. He is buried there, and we are hoping to research more and make a visit at some point to connect with the outpost.
These indirect touches with the Scouts have colored our lives in ways we hadn’t really thought of until recently. When you think of Eagle Scouts, specifically, you think of capable and trustworthy men groomed for excellence and public service. There is no better example than the young man I am privileged to know who is now a high-achieving cadet leader in his third year at West Point. I marvel at BJL’s new undertakings since I spent many days with him and his three sisters (also Scouts) as their nanny while he was an energetic and curious boy in the primary grades. I’d like to think the times we spent day-camping and bushwhacking at Wickham Park in Florida influenced him to purse outdoor adventures as a proud member of our United States military. It was truly humbling to join his family at the Eagle Court of Honor, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this bright young man and his siblings.
While Eagle Scouts are turned out into the world prepared to endure life’s toughest challenges with grace and determination, there are events for which one can never fully prepare. This happened to be the case for Eagle Scout, and member of the Order of the Arrow, Jackson Leslie Beam.
My eldest nephew, a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, disciplined banjo picker, and missionary for his church, was snatched away from this earth on June 24th after suffering an unforeseen and tragic health complication.
He just graduated with his high school diploma the weekend before, and celebrated his 18th birthday on May 5th with his twin sister in Fort Wayne, IN. Jack grew from a sweetly enchanting little boy to be a model citizen with the guidance of his mother as Den Leader of his troop. At Scouting events and within his wider community alongside his father (a graduate of the US Air Force Academy), soft-spoken blue-eyed Jack proved himself to be a leader among his peers, and was compelled to attend to the needs of others to include his adopted little sister. All who knew him expected great things from his pending two-year mission to Taiwan and future studies in computer science at Purdue University where he was recently accepted.
An Eagle Scout in the truest sense, going above and very much beyond the rigorous requirements, this young man gave us hope that the future would be in the best of hands long after the older generations are gone. Now, Jack serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished in just a few short years- to live a life of purpose that is full of genuine love. Jack’s legacy lives on in the hearts and memories of others, and there is no doubt he will be remembered in the Scouting community for a very, very long time. Claiming the legendary ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic‘ as his favorite song, I don’t believe anyone would fuss at adding Jack’s name to the list above of notable Scouts for their positive impact on the world as a true American.
In this year’s celebration of American Independence, we honor those here and gone who have made their own pledges to follow their faith, honor their county, and help others for the good of all.
During a White House visit by Scouts and Explorers in 1961, President John F. Kennedy shared how Scouts “learn the qualities of perseverance … you come to understand something about nature and something about our country.”
“After years of observation,” he continued, “I really believe that the experience you have … is the best possible training you can have to equip you for later life.”
“What you are doing now will prepare you to play a significant and responsible role in maintaining the freedom of the United States.”
Be safe, savor the moment, and hug a Scout this Fourth of July!!