When I was ten there was a meeting for those interested in Scouting. I was interested, so I attended along with about five other guys from school. Soon after we became Troop 157. There had been a Boy Scout troop previously, (Troop 57) several years prior, that dissolved for reasons I don’t think I ever knew, but presumably lack of interest. But nonetheless, a new Troop was formed and I was privileged to be a part of it.
When I went in to meet with my Scoutmaster to fulfill the requirements for the Boy Scout badge, he was extremely enthusiastic and motivating. In that conversation he instilled in me a confidence that I could make Eagle Scout. This is the ultimate for those in Scouting. From that moment, I was determined and set a goal to become an Eagle Scout.
In reality, the requirements to get the first Boy Scout badge weren’t that difficult. All that had to be done was memorization of the Scout Law, Scout Oath and some other basic things. So that fact that I completed that would by no means give anyone any indication that I was Eagle Scout material. However, I was fortunate to have a Scoutmaster who was an encourager. Sometimes all you need is a push, someone to believe in you to tell you that you can do it.
All the other boys had the same opportunity I had. We all had the same Scoutmaster, the same activities to participate in, the same meetings to attend. The only thing that separated me from the others that I started with was consistency and determination.
The Boy Scout handbook listed the requirements for each new rank in the back of the book. It didn’t take much time at all to whip through Tenderfoot, Second Class and even the First Class rank with some focused effort. Once I achieved First Class, I was halfway there in the ranks. I don’t recall exactly but I believe it took me approximately 12-16 months to earn the rank of First Class from when I started. Each rank kept me motivated in pursuing the next one.
Earning the remaining ranks proved to be much more difficult. With each of the remaining ranks, you had to earn Merit Badges. To attain the rank of Eagle, you were required to earn 21 merit badges and thirteen or fourteen of those had to be from the list that were specifically required for Eagle. There were a lot of different types of merit badges to choose from and I found this to be a lot of fun and interesting.
However, not every requirement for each badge was fun. For example, when I was working on the Environmental badge, I had to sit at a spot and just observe for an hour. I had to do this a few times and take notes about what I saw. I picked a spot by the creek under a bridge about a mile from our house. I remember this being really boring at the time. This is where the determination came in. You had to keep your eyes on the prize. It was very helpful that while you were working your way to the “Holy Grail”, there were smaller awards along the way (i.e. the merit badges and previous ranks). I got to experience the feeling of accomplishment on my way toward meeting my primary goal.
Most of the badges were really fun to earn and very educational. Nearly every badge earned was done with a different instructor. Many were started or completed during summer camp, others during the various camp outs during the year and others as I worked on them on my own.
What made this so great for me was that the requirements were clearly laid out and the steps were measurable. I have taken a lot of what I learned in Scouting and applied to my home and work life. Many of you have probably heard of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely), that is exactly what the requirements were for merit badges and scout ranks.
The requirement that typically takes the longest to complete is the Eagle Scout project. There is a lot of planning and fore-thought that needs to be put into this. For my project, I did a food drive. Everything that was used for the project was donated. I got grocery bags from the local grocery store, volunteers to help set things up, deliver the empty bags along w/ instructions, pick up the filled bags and deliver all the food to the county food pantry. It was satisfying to give back in that way to the community and even the county.
It was a great feeling to have completed the project. I remember doing so in the Spring and then I had to get all my paperwork submitted for the Eagle Board of Review. Through each rank, you have to go before a Board of Review to make sure all of the requirements were met. Typically those were done by the adult Scout leaders of our Troop. But for the Eagle review, a Board is assembled from the Council which our Troop was a part of.
I successfully made it through the Board of Review and had the Eagle Scout ceremony in the Fall of the same year. I was fifteen at the time. It took me just around five and a half years to earn the Eagle Scout award. You are allowed to earn it up until the age of 18. It was a proud moment and humbling to stand in front of those assembled at the ceremony. So many people had a hand in helping me on that journey.
One of the main lessons learned in all this is that in completing a goal, you are seldom ever able to complete it on your own. There are often times others who have a hand in helping you accomplish those goals. My scoutmasters had a big hand in helping me complete this as well as my parents, obviously. My family members, other scouts in our troop, camp instructors and others all had a part in it.
Whatever goal you’re pursuing right now, allow others to help you. Don’t try to take it all on your own. You will find others will be more than happy to help you and it will make it that much more satisfying in then end. At the same time, you need to remember that no one is going to do it for you. You have to go out and get it. But you can do it!
What is one of the goals you accomplished that you are most proud of? Let me know in the comments.