I was watching my teenage son wrestle with his emotions as he grabbed his kid brother a little too roughly by the collar to pull him out of the way. A skateboarder, a few years older than him, was flying by. We watched as the guy launched himself up onto a empty planter next to the Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington, DC.
By now my little one was whining.
“Mom! He pulled me too hard!”
“I know, I know. He was just trying to help. Give me your hand.”
Meanwhile, my oldest was off on his own train of thought, a bit of a tirade.
“Mom! They’re destroying government property! They are NOT showing respect!”
He was right, of course. There are black treadmarks and dislodged pieces of pavement all over the area because skaters have made it a playground. And there appears to be little resistance to their doing so.
I didn’t get into the whys and wherefores right then – the complexities of urban life and how he (my son) has opportunities for education and to expel energy that others don’t. But I understand his frustration. I hope and pray he’ll grow up to be someone who will contribute solutions.
My husband and I try to give him tools. We’re trying to get him ready.
Be prepared. It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts of America and a darn good one at that. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know that my oldest son is a Boy Scout and has been moving up through the ranks, starting as a Cub Scout, for the last 7 years.
Scouting provides unique opportunities to gain leadership skills and self-confidence while teaching the importance of service to nation and community. I have also seen the ethical values my husband and I are trying to instill in our children at home – such as hard work, courtesy, trustworthiness, and honesty – reinforced through the activities and actions of individuals committed to this organization. It’s a group I believe is a force for good in our country.
In 2015, 54,366 young men became Eagle Scouts – the highest rank of Boy Scout. That amounts to 6.57 percent of eligible Scouts (defined as registered Boy Scouts or male Venturers who are under 18). It also marks a 4.9 increase in new Eagle Scouts from 2014, but 7.3 percent fewer than the all-time high of 58,659 in 2012, when the Boy Scouts celebrated 100 years of the Eagle Scout award and many young men pushed to attain it, along with a special centennial Eagle Scout patch.
Young men who earned Eagle in 2015 together recorded 8,503,337 hours of service on Eagle projects. That’s an average of 156.4 hours of service per Eagle project!
An Eagle project is generally completed in the community where the Scout lives, and is designed for that community’s benefit. Eagle projects can be found in places you probably frequent on a weekly basis, such as churches, parks, and schools. In 2015, the Corporation for National and Community Service valued volunteer time at $23.56 an hour, which means that while working on these projects, the Eagle Scouts and the volunteers they led contributed more than $200 million worth of time in their service.
This is of course after years of service on other, smaller projects, and after having acquired pre-requisite skills in leadership, civics and citizenship, personal management, family life, and general health and well-being.
Young men who are giving of themselves to their communities in their teenage years should be thanked and praised. They are a source of hope to our nation – which often complains of its self-absorbed youth.
There are more than 50,000 new Eagle Scouts on average each year. This, I think, is good news.
Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Statistics for this piece are from “Eagle Scout Class of 2015, by the numbers” by Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, and senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines, and well as from Independent Sector.org.