Venturer visualizes her wonderful web of Scouting connections

Character-driven TV shows like Lost slowly reveal the ways in which these seemingly disparate people have actually been connected all along.

And as Rachel Eddowes (third from the right in the photo above) recently discovered, the same is true in Scouting.

Perhaps the person with whom you taught a merit badge class served on Wood Badge staff with someone you know from volunteering at an OA ordeal weekend. The possibilities are endless.

Rachel, a supremely active Venturer, five-time National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) staffer and student at George Mason University recently decided to illustrate how the Scouting “characters” in her life know one another.

(Case in point: Though I’ve never met Rachel, my dad knows her from NAYLE.)

“Creating such a map was something I had wanted to do anyway — not with TV show characters, but with people I have met over the years through Scouting,” Rachel says. “I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to staff four NAYLE courses out at Philmont Scout Ranch (plus one at Sea Base). In addition to teaching and learning about leadership, I enjoyed making friends from across the country.”

With each additional staffing experience, Rachel reunited with friends or made new ones. Usually some would know of other friends she had made or people she knew through other Scouting experiences. The links continued on and on like a Scouting version of that Kevin Bacon game.

“Eventually a web of connections began to emerge with each ‘Do you know so-and-so?’ ‘Yeah! I know them!’ conversation,” she says.

On first glance, Rachel’s wonderful web looks like a haphazard jumble of lines. But follow a few of those lines, and you’ll see just how connected the characters in her Scouting world are. Check it out (click to enlarge):

Strung-Together

The impressive illustration fulfilled a project requirement for a college computer art class, but as you can see, Rachel went above and beyond.

Rachel explains how to read the map:

  • Her name is at the top.
  • Each name is listed “in the order of appearance” (the approximate order that she met them) going clockwise. The map doesn’t list all the people she’s met through Scouting, mainly just those she knew had two or three connections to others she knew. She acknowledges that the map is possibly missing information or Scouting connections.
  • The key is on the right: each item listed is a Scouting event or grouping of Scouts
  • Each name is connected to other names via the color-coded event or grouping (strands were connected to one another in the form of branches to prevent too much cluttering).

Creating the map took Rachel about seven hours in the computer lab, and that doesn’t count the time spent organizing the information and planning how to display it.

Her final grade on the project shouldn’t surprise you: A.

“Scouting is something that I highly value,” Rachel says. “I value the different experiences I’ve had, the different life lessons I’ve learned, and the different people that I have met. It excites me to know that I am part of something that transcends borders and unites all types of people.”

An outlook like that deserves an A-plus.