Editor’s Note: Have a Scout who’s losing speed as he nears the rank of Eagle Scout? Keep his ride going by sharing with him this guest blog post from Rob Greenfield, an Eagle Scout from Ashland, Wisc., who recently completed a solo bike ride across America.
I think you’ll find in Rob’s writing some great lessons in perseverance and the Scouting spirit. He speaks directly to boys on the path to Eagle, telling them to “keep [their] eye on the prize,” even when others around them might think Scouting isn’t “cool.” Rob did, and look at him now.
Rob also shares thoughts on protecting our earth and how he completed a cross-country bike ride with minimal impact to the planet; he created just two pounds of trash over 104 days! Rob’s writing couldn’t be more timely given the BSA’s new Sustainability merit badge.
I hope you enjoy.
Across America on a Bamboo Bike
More than 4,700 miles of bike riding through deserts, over mountains, across the Great Plains and in urban America gives you a lot of time to think. It gives you a lot of time to appreciate what you have in life. It gives you a lot of time to be thankful for where you are today. It gave me a lot of time to gain a deeper appreciation for my seven years as a Boy Scout.
This summer I cycled 5,000 miles over 104 days on a bamboo bicycle starting in San Francisco and ending in Waitsfield, Vt. The purpose of the journey was to inspire Americans to start living a more earth-friendly lifestyle for themselves, their community, and the earth. To lead by example, I followed a set of rigorous ground rules: only using electricity I created via my own solar panels, using water harvested from natural sources or that was going to waste, eating local organic unpackaged food or food that was going to waste, creating near zero trash and shopping only at businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. On top of that if I swore I had to do 10 pushups and donate $10 to charity.
My years in Scouting instilled in me a love for nature and a desire to protect it. My unit, Troop 342 in Northern Wisconsin, was committed to camping every single month of the year. We took great pride in the fact that we camped no matter the weather. I vividly remember sleeping in igloos that we built that day. We were proud when it was minus-20 outside the shelter and a toasty 30-above inside. I remember a canoe trip in northern Michigan when the wind picked up so strong I had to walk the canoe along the wind-beaten shore the last few miles back to camp. I remember summer camp — racing frogs, learning to sail on the Sunfish sailboats, failing my swim test and the whole troop getting addicted to ultimate Frisbee. Life was good exploring and conquering the world with my fellow Scouts.
I also remember being embarrassed to be a Boy Scout. I remember avoiding conversations about Scouting at school. I remember not wanting to wear my uniform when we were out in public. I remember getting teased for being a Scout. But heck, what didn’t we tease each other about when we were young? What didn’t embarrass me growing up in a small town where everyone knew everything about me? I’m glad I overcame those obstacles, and today I couldn’t be more proud to say that I’m an Eagle Scout. I couldn’t be more proud of the years of learning to take on the world in a cheerful, positive manner. I couldn’t be more proud of the endless skills I learned to prepare myself for life. I am certain that being an Eagle Scout is a prevailing factor for my success in life.
My ride across America this summer was grueling. Challenges were thrown my way day and night. Challenges that others would have perceived as a mountain I saw as a meager speed bump and rode right over them. My years as a Scout have made me a resourceful problem solver who can tackle any issue with a smile on my face. My years as a Scout instilled in me a desire to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. I focus my personal life on health and happiness and inspiring others to live in a similar manner, free of alcohol and drugs, physically active, eating healthy and living for the well-being of everyone around me. I didn’t think of the Scout Law every day on the road, but I did live by its points.
To all you Scouts out there, I say keep your eye on the prize and achieve the prestigious ranking of Eagle Scout. Use negativity and put-downs as fuel for your fire and when you are feeling like giving up, just man up and do what needs to be done. You are going to achieve greatness in life, and becoming an Eagle Scout is going to put you leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the pack.
To all you Eagle Scouts, I say congratulations. You did it. Don’t ever forget that you are an amazing being and you have the skills and knowledge to make this world a better place. You are empowered. Put it to good use.
Over the 104 days and 4,700 miles of my ride I managed to plug into only five outlets, not switch on a light, use just 160 gallons of water, create a mere two pounds of trash, travel via my own power (save one mile on a ferry into New York City), and swear just nine times.
For the average American, a bike ride of this stature would be a challenge too large to handle. Not for an Eagle Scout.
Rob Greenfield is a native of Ashland, Wisc., and earned a bachelor in Biology from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He currently resides in San Diego, California where he founded Greenfield Adventures and The Greenfield Group. His mission is to use his adventures to entertain, educate, inspire, and give back. More than anything he strives to inspire Americans to start living a more healthy happy earth friendly life. Learn more about this adventure and many others on his website and follow him on Facebook.