I received my Eagle Scout anniversary email today. I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that “6/20/1995 … feels just like yesterday”; it feels like another lifetime entirely. In a biological sense (cell age) I am a completely different organism. My mental landscape is also completely different as my brain is (surely) starting to calcify and I’m slowly turning into a stereotypical “I don’t understand kids these days” old man. I think, emotionally, most of the angry young teenager is gone save for a few remnants on my particularly bad days.
Looking back on those years in Scouting is difficult for a variety of reasons. Scouting is one of those things that my father and I did; it’s been more than six and a half years since his death and I still get sucked into a vortex of sadness and regret whenever something reminds me of him. And this was really the one thing that we did together.
The other reason I find it difficult to talk about Scouting is the way in which it has become so politicized lately. The fact that Donald Trump, a man who has never had to earn nor sacrifice anything in his hollow, sad life, turned the last yearly rally into a mini Hitler Youth affair detests me. It was a lot of the same tired jingoism that you see so often from people who claim the mantel of “Real Americans” without having ever to do anything to earn it. And by that I mean volunteer at a school, serve in the military, give back to their community, etc.
Despite my reservations about celebrating my Scouting anniversary, I do admit that becoming an Eagle Scout was a singular event in my life. Just the act of having to stick with something for almost a decade took commitment that became harder as I got older. So many friends fell by the wayside and out of Scouting as High School loomed on the horizon. And yet, despite never having done much with my life up to that point, I stuck with it long enough to be able to take on that final leg of Scouting that ends at Eagle. It was really the firs major thing that I was able to earn during the first half of my life. Until I earned my Sergeant years later, Eagle Scout would continue to be a defining moment of what I am capable of if I choose to apply myself.
My daughter is a Daisy Scout, and I hope some day that she becomes an Ambassador, earning her Silver and Gold along the way. If not, that’s going to be her choice rather than a vicarously motivated dream that her father had. The fact that she’s in Scouting and enjoys it brings me joy regardless of what the future may bring. Like my father and I, Girl Scouting is “our” thing that Dad and Bea do together.