Tonight, we made time to celebrate our troop’s second scout to become recognized as an Eagle Scout since our founding in the Fall of 2010. David has given me permission to publish his Eagle Charge here on the blog site. We try to avoid “canned” speeches and form-letter ceremonies by personalizing the program as much as possible. My charge to David, provides a personal message based on his personality, but also incorporates themes common to all Eagle charges, and even borrows from Michael Malone’s excellent work on documenting the eagle scout “phenomenon” (Four Percent: The Story of Uncommon Youth in a Century of American Life)
So without further adieu…..
I first met David when he and his family visited our new boy scout troop in the Fall of 2010. He made a strong impression upon me immediately as he came to the meeting in full Boy Scouts of America uniform even before signing membership papers.
As a writer and wordsmith, I try to choose my words very carefully and if I had to pick a single word to describe David’s personality (especially when it comes to his involvement in scouting) it would be enthusiastic.
However, as an adjective that word doesn’t go far enough. I’d prefer to say that David embodies the idea of “enthusiasm” – Synonyms include: eagerness, keenness, fervor, passion, zeal, zest, gusto, energy, verve, vigor, fire, spirit, wholeheartedness, commitment, willingness, devotion and earnestness. Out of all these words, I still think “enthusiasm” works best.
David is a young man with vision, drive, determination, and a very sharp mind for organization and planning. When he sets a goal, he’s likely already envisioned the ideal outcome and determined the needed resources and timeline to achieve that end result.
These are fairly typical qualities of scouts who become recognized as Eagles within the program. After all, before this night of accolades, the scout must have overcome more than 250 specific hurdles or requirements. The trail to Eagle isn’t a wind sprint, but a marathon where the young man is changed by the process itself.
Roughly four to five percent of all eligible scouts are recognized as Eagles. I say “recognized as Eagles” rather than “be awarded the Eagle badge” since you don’t so much earn the award as become a person described by the award. This is a fact that only the eagles in the audience and perhaps their parents will ever fully and completely appreciate. Somewhere along the scouting path a transformation occurs within the scout. He realizes that while scouting is fun, there’s a far greater reward in serving other people, doing one’s very best at all times and living a life called out by society as something odd or abnormal. To this Eagle, there’s nothing odd about embodying the scout oath and law in my daily life, but to many cynics in society, well, they’ve crafted the term “boy scout” into a mocking phrase to describe someone unyielding in their devotion to doing what’s right at any and all costs.
Where the term “boy scout” may be seen as a description, “eagle scout” as a term is more of an explanation. As in “Well, he’s an Eagle scout” being used as shorthand to describe how this man, young or old, personifies the range of skills used to save a life or build a survival den or lead a team of professionals with seemingly no effort or hesitation, and in a way that delivers consistently desirable results.
And that brings me to my role tonight — to challenge David to commit to a lifetime of servant leadership in all areas of his life – leading in his schoolwork, career, future spousal and familial responsibilities and serving God in church and community.
You see, the chief obligation of an Eagle Scout is simply to never stop being an Eagle Scout. In fact, we have a saying; “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle”.
So David, you’ve reached a key milestone in your life, and in some ways it’s the end of an established trail and the beginning of open range territory – where you go from here is up to you. When starting on a journey like this, 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.
David as you set out, remember scouting’s ideals – the Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan. These tenets serve us well and during our time together we’ve tested them against scriptures to be sure that they were in alignment with God’s instructions to us. In fact, our chief duty under the Scout Oath is to God. His charge to all Christians is simple and clearly presented. Here are some 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)
- “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)
- “…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)
Remember, also that you have a duty to others and a duty to yourself – to keep yourself ready to serve when needed and to be on the lookout for those situations where you can compassionately intervene.
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.“
David, 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 upon 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.
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.
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.
David, I charge you to enter this Eagle Scout brotherhood without reservation and hold always before you the ideals of reverence, honor and service.