Sunday, July 10, 2022

Eagle Ceremony

Yesterday we went to Jon's Eagle ceremony. My understanding is he's Eagle scout number 115 for the troop and I was number 19.  I suppose.  It's been a long time since I got my Eagle.  On a positive note, my uniform fit.  On a not so positive note, it's still go the Many Point and other patches with the old Native American style instead of the loon, and red epaulets instead of green. My wife nicely said it's "vintage".

Here I am with Jon and the other two current Eagle scouts from the troop.  And another of just us.

I did give a...speech.  Here's the thing in toto if anyone ever wants to steal it [lot of effort to create one from scratch].


Eagle Scout, Troop 270

October 1985

Vigil OA

Former Camp Counselor, Heritage/Stearns

All Scouts are familiar with the Scout Law.  12 points that guide a Scout in expected traits and behavior.  But just for a moment, I’m going to argue against them.  So bear with me for a moment.  We won’t be covering all of them.

A Scout is….

Loyal - obviously, but only loyal as long as that loyalty is earned or at least maintained.  There is no loyalty to the disloyal and those who don’t embody many of the Scouting ideals themselves.

A Scout is….Courteous and Kind - by default, obviously.  But not in the absolute.  When and where the dignity of others is at risk, a Scout knows when to be forthright, uncourteous and unkind, and act in the interests of others.

A Scout is….Obedient - until a Scout is disobedient for good cause.  It is a Scout’s duty to speak up.  Speak out.  And make the world a better place for all even when it requires disobedience.

A Scout is….Clean - except when others are dirty and in need. And then the Scout gets dirty too.  Leading by example.  Inspiring by being there, in the moment with those in need, those being helped.  Clean can often take a backseat because the world simply isn’t clean.

What I’m highlighting is that as absolute as the word ‘law’ sounds, by the time a Scout like Jon is an Eagle Scout, he’s learned that those points of the law are just guideposts. Lines to keep a Scout on a path that isn’t always the only way to the destination.  They’re there to tell a Scout what’s expected and eventually, what needs to be considered, but not what’s absolute.  They get fuzzier as a Scout grows in ability to learn and to lead.  They show a Scout the path, and the Scout, as Jon has, learns when to apply all the precepts: the law, the motto, the slogan, the oath, in the service of self and others.  When to use them and when to bend them, to be an example to those who recognize a leader worthy of leading and worthy of following.

It is an honor to be speaking.  I’ve known Jon since before he started Scouts.  As a former Eagle Scout myself, as someone who has led and mentored younger Scouts who were pursuing their Eagle when I was an patrol leader, senior patrol leader, and ASM, and as a manager who has interviewed thousands of IT job candidates including numerous Eagle Scouts – we have three on my team including myself –  have to say Jon is an exemplary individual, as a Scout, and as a person.  Jon brought aspects of his good character and that of his family with him to Scouting and expanded on those strengths, building his personal leadership and the leadership of other Scouts as he progressed.  It’s been a huge pleasure and a privilege to watch his parents, and Jon, talk about his Scouting adventures: camps, leadership, Order of the Arrow, family camp, service project, and even international camps. 

It was a joy to see that his Eagle Project at Bertram Lakes was literally in the backyard of where I grew up and did Eagle Service projects with former Scouts myself: his access work at the parking lot and soccer fields is part of a long history there that includes raptor nests and trail cleaning among other Scouting community improvements. 

At frequent multi-family outings, Jon and I have talked Scouting, and he knows my go to Scout-centric question is to ask what his favorite meal while camping is and how to prepare that meal.  A patrol and a troop run on happy stomachs and good leadership and some of the best stories always revolve around the challenges of a communal meal.  More than that, it’s a wedge into talking about leadership and patrols and the troop and how Jon understands Scouting and the Scouts he leads.  His commitment to being a better leader including training and his excitement about how it benefits his troop have always been obvious.

When I was going through my own Scout memorabilia, dozens of scarves from Many Point and elsewhere, lodge badges I had traded for over the years including at the National Scout Jamboree, OA historic patches and sashes, it was Jon to whom I gave my almost forty year old collection.  It was important to me that I gave that collection to someone who might appreciate them as much as I had.  Someone who would understand that everything a Scout walks away with from Scouting - as much as any of us ever really walks away from Scouting - includes all that “stuff”. But that the memorabilia and tokens of recognition are simply a history of all the learning, the camaraderie, the leadership, the charity, the community service, and the essence of the Oath, Slogan, Motto, and Law. I stress it’s the essence. More importantly, the ability to synthesize them into leadership and character that transcends what they say on paper.  Those physical things are reminders of the path you took and the path someone else took, and how those paths have parallels for you both  And, in a bigger sense, for all the other Eagle Scouts and OA members who have followed the same path and learned how to navigate the guideposts of Scouting into a unique path of leadership of their own.

Congratulations, Jon.  The last few years have undoubtedly been a more difficult path to Eagle then many previous years.  It’s been my pleasure to watch you not only survive the challenges, but thrive and lead.

No comments: