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The Beginning...


February 1st, 2019

I started scouts back on February 1st, 2019. I’ll always remember that date because it was the first day I was considered an official Scout like my brother. I’d tagged along on camping trips, and boat regattas, but now I could earn merit badges too. As I started looking at all the pamphlets, I came to a daunting conclusion. They all looked so awesome that I couldn’t pick just 21. I wanted to do them all. So I nervously went to my mom, who looked me up and down and said 

“Sure, why not?”

Every eagle scout knows that there’s that one person who helped them reach their full potential. Whether it was a parent, sibling, scout master, youth leader, or neighbor, 

Scouts is a shining example of the impact community leaders can have. 

Not every kid has that person in their life who gives unconditional support. That’s what scouts does. It gives youth the opportunity to be around people who care. Who encourage them to be the best they can. To not give up.  


Through earning 137 merit badges, I traveled to over a dozen states and scout camps. There were many stories I have, but the moments that always stood out to me were the volunteers. 


For Welding merit badge, our counselor stayed after class an extra two hours without question, to make sure every kid had completed their project and would earn the merit badge. 


I sprained my ankle while hiking to Camping merit badge and the teacher incorporated it into the lesson, each kid taking a turn carefully wrapping my ankle. I’ll never forget the scouts who walked around with first aid kits in their backpacks eager, if not slightly overeager, to do their daily good turn. 

I have a hundred and thirty-seven stories like that. Every time I look at this sash, I am reminded of a culture of people who genuinely care, and I won’t ever forget that. I’m going to be honest, doing every merit badge in ten months was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. Harder than getting my A.A at 16. Harder than becoming a pilot, or public speaking, or writing and self publishing two books. 

But if I got the chance to do it again, I would consider myself lucky. The experiences I had changed my life. I learned so many unique skills that I never otherwise would have gotten the chance to do. 

What am I talking about? Well for starters I welded with a blow torch, hiked miles of trail on the Appalachian, designed a rabbit hutch using CAD, harvested honey from a bee hive, designed a board game, surveyed land, viewed Mars thru a NASA telescope, rowed a boat, learned to play the trumpet, played 18 holes of golf, drove a motorboat, went geocaching and orienteering, caught a trout fly fishing, maneuvered a duckie down a waterfall, fired a rifle, examined cancer on a CT Scan, waterskied and mountain biked for the first time. 

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I also got to experience the joys of rushing full speed to merit badge class with 30 seconds to spare, waking up soaking wet at 4am realizing I forgot to put on the tent tarp, and discovering that emptying a swamped canoe is A LOT harder than it looks. 

The mistakes I made, I was able to learn from in a safe way. 


I have the most random skillset of anyone I’ve ever met, but I find myself thanking Scouting time and time again because of it. 

It’s helped me in countless situations, even now. Public Speaking merit badge has been a lifesaver for me. 


If I had to pick though, I would say that the greatest gift scouting has given me is perspective. I got to talk with thousands of scouts from all across the world, and get a window into their life. I was given the chance to see things in a different way, whether that was through learning about different customs and careers, or literally with Climbing merit badge. 

Speaking of different perspectives, In Reptile and Amphibian Study merit badge, I met a girl named Rosemary. Instead of viewing me as competition, she treated me like a friend. She was one of only a handful of girls I came across that year, but what stuck out to me most was how she lived her life. She said “Kindness matters.” And she was right. To this day, I’ll always remember the girl who took every lunch break that week to practice knot tying with me, who was the first person to congratulate me on earning all the merit badges, who is now researching pathogens using a combination of engineering and med science technology, and who was, above all else, a kind person. 


In today’s world, it can be depressing. I sometimes find myself looking around and questioning where we’re headed as a society. I look at a lot of the problems that face boys and girls my age and I worry. It’s a tough road ahead. The pull of social media, gaming, and an instant gratification culture I know is leaving some people questioning if what Scouts has to offer is relevant. 

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I say that never before has it ever been more relevant, and more necessary. I am proof that what you do makes a difference, and this coming generation needs it more than ever. 


Scouts has given me crucial life skills: perspective, positive role models, and friends I am blessed to have. It’s brought me closer to my country, my family, and to God. 

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