Builds Men of Character
McLEAN, VA – A couple of
weeks ago, my wife and I proudly watched our grandson, Jack, who is 11,
participate in a “Bridging Ceremony,” in which he moved out of Cub Scouts to
become a Boy Scout. He walked across a small bridge, and was congratulated
by such Scout leaders as Admiral Mike Brown, who is one of the 1.1 million
volunteers in the program.
Another volunteer who
spoke was Jeff Telep, an attorney wearing his Scout uniform, who told us
that 63% of Air Force Academy graduates are Scouts, 65% of those at West
Point and 70% of Annapolis grads. He noted that two-thirds of all college
graduates were Scouts, 85% of airline pilots, and 89% of senior high school
Jeff Telep also
volunteers as Jack’s basketball coach, along with his own son, also named
Scouting is a very
important character-building experience for a boy or girl.
Eleven of the 12 men who
walked on the moon developed their sense of service as a Boy Scout, as did
26 of the first 29 astronauts. Fully 206 U.S. Senators or Members of
Congress began serving others as Boy Scouts, 29 of whom were Eagle Scouts
such as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-NE).
Some 51,473 Boy Scouts became
Eagle Scouts last year, of the 2.7 million youth members. To win such an
award, Scouts must demonstrate their understanding of leadership, service,
character, personal fitness and outdoor skills at multiple levels. In
addition to the 21 merit badges required by the Eagle rank, each Scout must
complete an extensive service project that he plans, organizes, leads and
manages before his 18th birthday.
For example, Nicholas
Kulick, 16, of Highland School in Warrenton, VA led an effort to design and
install a small computer network at the Enjijape Primary School in
Maasailand, Kenya. He worked with members of the Maasailand Preservation
Trust to install equipment and train students and teachers on IPads and
laptops. Because the impoverished east African village didn’t have
electricity, everything was connected wirelessly to a cellular Internet
router that was powered by solar panels.
Kulik worked with
corporations and governmental agencies in the U.S. and Kenya to ensure the
equipment would bring the school desperately needed reading material and a
new window on the world.
On average, an Eagle
Scout will invest 130 hours in such projects to serve others.
Boy Scouts of America
was organized a century ago and had its first annual meeting in 1911 at the
White House, where President Taft spoke and the first awards for heroism
were presented: 22 Bronze Medals.
In 2010 there were 205
Lifesaving Awards given to youth members or adult leaders who “demonstrated
unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life,” 19 of
which were “at extreme risk” to the Scout.
The mission of the Boy
Scouts is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices during
their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”
The Scout Oath: “On my
honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the
Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically
strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
There are 56,000 Scouts
in Metro Washington, the second largest Council in the country although the
area’s population of 5.5 million is only 8th largest, far behind
New York’s 19 million, 12.8 million in Los Angeles and 9.6 million in
Why does Washington
attract such a large number of Scouts?
“There is a strong
military presence and a strong governmental presence that is in tune with
the message of service,” said one of the professional staffers.
Telep adds, “There is a
constellation of interests here, around civics, politics, law, and
patriotism which is appealing to the Scouting mindset – people who are
looking for ways to make a substantial contribution. As the seat of the
Federal Government, the region naturally attracts strong leaders, many of
whom volunteer in Scouting, such as Admiral Mike Brown.”
I asked Jack, my
grandson, what he liked about scouting. He replied, “I like how it helps
the environment, and they find fun ways to do so, like when you go camping,
if it is messy, you have to clean up. I have become more thrifty and it is
easy to help others.”
There’s a future leader of America!
Copyright © 2012 Michael J. McManus,
a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers.