Friday, May 16, 2014

Apathetic Eagle Scouts

What does it mean to be an Eagle Scout?

I hate to say it, but Mike's Boy Scout troop was an Eagle Scout factory before we came in. After two years, we're still trying to break that way of thinking. Does every boy who comes through the system deserve to get the rank, put it on his resume, and wear that title with honor?

No, of course not. It would make the rank meaningless. Imagine that you're introduced to a beer-swilling man who's cursing about how deadbeats have ruined this country. He's sitting in his recliner and shouting at the television. He drives a fork lift, comes home after work, and puts on the television until bedtime. He's one of those people who shouts at his wife, who's in the other room helping a kid with homework, to get him another beer.. He might go to a family potluck now and then on the weekends, but his wife makes the dish and organizes getting the kids ready to go. He does the minimum. Then imagine that he tells you he's an Eagle Scout. What would you think about the rank of Eagle Scout then?

Can you tell that I'm pissed but shouldn't really talk about details?

Okay, here I go. What about the boy who sat in a younger boy's camp chair for a whole weekend and never got up to do a thing, the one who disappeared off the map the minute his Eagle Court of Honor was finished? What about the boy who stormed out of a meeting with a merit badge counselor when she asked him to discuss the details of the requirements? What about the boy whose Eagle Scout project was run by the woman he was supposed to be helping and who never showed up to help for anyone else's project ever? What about the boy whose mother sent out dozens of emails that he should have sent to organize his promotion through the ranks? What about the kid who showed up for meetings and sat in the back, ignoring the proceedings as he played with his phone? Impressed yet?

Yes, these boys have been given or are soon to be given the rank of Eagle Scout in Mike's troop.

I thought it was supposed to mean something.

The problem is that this way of thinking ruins something for the boy whose uniform is always clean and pressed and who is involved with the younger boys and polite to us old folks. I think of what is ruined for the boy who showed up to help with four more Eagle Scout projects after his was finished and only stopped stepping up to help because he left the area to go to college on a scholarship. And there's the boy who plans to hike through on the Pacific Crest trail when he graduates. He's the guy who will help whenever I ask for it and laughs and talks with the newer kids, making them feel like a part of the troop.

The problem with hosting an Eagle Scout factory is that, there are kids who really exemplify the Scout Law, you know the one I mean: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. That's not just a saying, you know.

And when there's a kid who barely does the minimum, doesn't care about the philosophy of the Boy Scouts, and only wants a line for his resume, he ruins the meaning of that rank for everyone else around him.

I'm not going to actively stand in the way of the last boy these leaders are pushing through the system. I'm not. But I do wish that the district could see that this work, the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank, has not been completed and the boy has no respect for what it involves. It's a joke to this kid. I'm sure, after receiving countless emails from his mother regarding plans that should have been made by the boy himself, that she will relish the fact that she has earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Thank you for listening, jules

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