Scouts have left their marks throughout our history. They have walked on the moon and scaled Earth’s highest peaks. They have led men into battle and our country into a new century. They have inspired their fellow Americans with their patriotism, their service, and most of all their character. In this, our 102nd year of service to America, we paused to reflect on the past and how it has prepared us for the future.
100 Years of Eagle Scouts
The Eagle Scout Award is Boy Scouting’s highest rank and among its most familiar icons. Men who earned it count it among their most treasured possessions. Those who missed it by a whisker remember exactly where they fell short. Americans of all stripes know that being an Eagle Scout is a great honor, even if they don’t know just what the badge means.
This year, a century after Arthur R. Eldred received the first Eagle Scout badge, we celebrated the impact more than 2 million Eagle Scouts have had on America and the world. New Eagle Scouts received commemorative patches, while older Eagle Scouts gathered at gala dinners to reminisce and rekindle their connections to Scouting. In Rockville Centre, New York, more than 2,000 people joined a parade that ended, most appropriately, at Arthur R. Eldred Memorial Park. Among them were 10 members of the Eldred family, which now includes four generations of Eagle Scouts.
Merit Beyond the Badge
Eagle Scouts are more likely to hold leadership positions, volunteer in their communities, donate money to charity, enjoy close relationships, and be goal-oriented. In fact, they score better than other men on 46 different prosocial measures, according to “Merit Beyond the Badge,” a study Baylor University released this year.
“We found that the effort and commitment required to earn this rank produces positive attributes that benefit not only these men in their personal and professional lives, but also benefits their communities and the country through the service and leadership they provide,” said lead researcher Dr. Byron Johnson.
Or, as expressed by Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca, who retired from BSA service in 2012, “Eagle Scouts are exceptional men.”
Eagle Scout Argonaut
As part of the Eagle Scout centennial, the National Eagle Scout Association named Alex Overman of Hamilton, Virginia, the first Eagle Scout Argonaut and sent him on a trip aboard legendary oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard’s ship, the E/V Nautilus. Overman’s first exposure to his future career came when he earned the Oceanography merit badge, but Scouting benefited him in even bigger ways. “Scouting really prepared me for any scenario I’ll face in life,” he said.
Overman was excited that the Eagle Scout Argonaut program will continue in 2013. “Being first is cool,” he said. “But I don’t want to be last.”
The Sea Scouts Centennial
In 1912, Arthur A. Carey of Boston launched the Boy Scout Ship Pioneer—and with it America’s Sea Scouts program. A hundred years later, Sea Scouts are still exploring the rivers of Iowa, the lakes of California, and the warm oceans around Hawaii.
On June 30, 2012, the Sea Scout Day of Remembrance, Sea Scouts attended a service at a New Hampshire church that Carey had founded. Leading them in the Scout Oath and Scout Law was Carey’s great-great-great-grandson, a Cub Scout.
As in other BSA programs, the real purpose of Sea Scouts is to prepare young people for life. Skipper Adam Tunks of Dallas recalled a Sea Scout who thanked him for guiding her through a tumultuous term as boatswain, his ship’s top youth leader. “She felt like she could navigate through life,” he said. “That’s the coolest thing; that’s what we’re trying to do.”