Last night, Jonathan C. became troop 777’s third Eagle Scout. I had the honor to deliver his Eagle Scout Charge – a challenge to the Eagle on his new responsibilities in carrying this honor and title for the rest of his life. With his permission, I’m publishing the content of my charge here on our blog site.
Hosts, Special Guests, Parents, Scouts and fellow Eagles, I have the distinct honor and pleasure of delivering Jonathan’s Eagle Scout Charge tonight.
I remember the first time I met Jonathan in 2008. He was late arriving for a troop meeting – having come from some sort of sports team event or practice. He seemed a little flustered and was in search of note paper to take attendance. He approached me asking if I could help him out. As I reached into my backpack to tear some paper from its pad, I asked him to tell me the scout motto before I’d deliver the paper. Caught off guard by this stranger, he blinked and collected himself. He stammered “be prepared” and I asked him if he’d be better prepared at the next troop meeting. I wasn’t trying to frustrate him, but I was trying to fulfill my own Eagle Scout charge to help others who were on the scouting trail. I remember his courteous “thank you”, but what made me laugh was when he, after taking three or four steps away from me, turned and said “Oh, yeah, do you think you could loan me a pen, too?”
When a scout begins walking the scouting path, he sees and he learns. As he progresses, his emphasis will shift from acquiring skills and knowledge to teaching what he has already learned.
Further along the trail, he understands that his earlier efforts have prepared him to make a difference in other people’s lives through service that is selflessly motivated. This should be an exciting realization for most scouts: that becoming prepared to act and then acting to serve others is both rewarding and motivational.
The view along the path changes, too.
Early on, many scouts can be intimidated by the mountain before them – it may seem insurmountable to progress through the ranks, earn the merit badges, carry out positions of responsibility and lead a service project on their own.
The experience along this path enriches each young man who undertakes the journey. Some young men develop the commitment to see it through to the end despite the difficulties and distractions that appear along the way.
Jonathan, you have reached a key summit of your journey. Your fellow scouts, family and many caring people have been there to help you on this path. We are gathered tonight in celebration of what’s been accomplished so far; however, you’re also standing at the start of an entirely new journey. Your efforts so far have prepared you for an even more exciting trail called “the rest of your life, here on earth”. Where will you go, what will you do?
When starting on any journey, you prepare by studying maps, checking your gear, and setting a plan. Like ancient mariners who traveled across deep oceans with only the stars as navigation aids, they were successful for several reasons: they were prepared, they had the skills, and they had courage.
Jonathan, there are many facets to Scouting’s Ideals: Be Prepared; Do a Good Turn Daily; live out the Scout Oath daily and adhere to the Scout Law. These are guideposts to remind us of what’s truly important in dealing with other people and in conducting our own, earthly affairs in a manner of integrity and honor.
Jonathan, never forget that a scout’s first duty is to God. The Bible delivers many specific charges for all of us. Here are some simple examples:
- “…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
- Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Tim 5:1-2)
- “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
- “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)
Your second duty is to others – specifically to your country as a participating citizen and to all those around you whom you can assist by obeying the tenants of the Scout Law, the motto and the slogan.
Lastly, you continue to have a duty to yourself – to remain physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. Your strength of body, mind and morals will enable you to serve others effectually and in a manner pleasing to God.
Jonathan, keep your BSA handbook with you for the rest of your life. While it won’t be the most important book in your collection (as that should be reserved for the Bible) it should be on the top shelf for three reasons.
- At a minimum it is a precious keepsake, a reminder of what you’ve accomplished with the help of others.
- It is a ready reference to keep your own skills honed so that you can remain prepared.
- It will help you when someday you have a family of your own – so that you can introduce these ideals, skills and practices to another generation.
Jonathan, I ask you, are you ready to step into this role with its responsibilities? Let me quote from the first edition of the BSA handbook, first published in 1911; “…And then the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country.”
Jonathan, you have been judged by the Boy Scouts of America as worthy of being recognized as an Eagle Scout for the rest of your life. This brings both honor AND responsibilities.
Make no mistake, the honor is not derived from a patch, medal or piece of cardboard that certifies your rank. The honor is generated by your consistent acting out of your principles.
As an Eagle Scout you have assumed a very solemn obligation to live out scouting’s ideals from this day forward. This is a great undertaking – one in which you are uniquely prepared to fulfill just as the ancient mariner was prepared to set sail by the stars and with courage.
Extend a helping hand to those who toil along the Scouting trail you have completed, just as others have aided you. The daily Good Turn will, and must, take on deeper meaning for you as you move into adulthood: protect and defend the weak and helpless; comfort the unfortunate and oppressed. Uphold the rights of others as well as your own. Remember, real leadership is founded upon real service.
As you live up to your obligations you bring honor to yourself and to your brother scouts. So live and serve, that those who know you will be inspired to finer living. I charge you to be among those who dedicate their hearts, their hands, their skills and their abilities to serve God, help others and stay strong. Set an example of clean living, honest work, unselfish citizenship and reverence for God, regardless of what others may do or say. You will leave behind you a legacy of which you may be justly satisfied.”
Jonathan, I charge you to enter this Eagle Scout brotherhood without reservation and hold always before you the ideals of reverence, honor and service. Welcome to the team.