Eagle Scout: Scouting is ‘the last real experience someone my age can have’

steven-madiganSo much in life these days is simulated — artificial flavoring, virtual reality games, “reality” TV — that something real and authentic stands out.

Thank goodness for Scouting, says newly minted Eagle Scout Steven Madigan.

He says that “Scouting in today’s society is almost countercultural” because it’s under-appreciated in our world. “This program truly is a gem,” he writes, “one whose beauty is lost on all too many.”

Steven wrote a nice essay on his very positive Scouting experience, and it’s interesting reading the perspective of one of the BSA’s newest Eagle Scouts.

He earned Scouting’s highest honor in 2014 as a member of Leawood, Kan., Troop 10. Here’s what he wrote:

I’ve been thinking in the past few months since my Eagle board of review about my experiences in Scouting and what a lost treasure it has become. And my apologies if this is lengthy. It’s something that I don’t think gets enough notice from most outside of the program.

Looking in from Day 1, Scouting in today’s society is almost countercultural. Even some of my best friends wouldn’t dare spend even one (let alone 11) nights outside at a camp. The reasons are too numerous to count — sports, videogames, girls, etc.

I’ve always been peer-pressured into thinking Scouting is a dead program and that the values it teaches are outdated. “Why waste your weekend a tent with in the middle of nowhere when you could be playing ‘Call of Duty’?” A vast number of my school classmates form negative opinions about the program with literally no basis or thought.

And that infuriates me and anyone else who’s been through or knows the program. If most people just took a few minutes to get to know someone who’s benefited, I think this would diminish greatly. I started proper Boy Scouts as a timid fifth-grader, like most. I had almost no social skills and didn’t know the first thing about work ethic. The decision to join was, admittedly, partly my mom’s, and I will never be able to thank her enough for it.

This “countercultural” program that my school friends scorn has made me into a person I never would have become otherwise. I’ve grown more mature and professional from my time in the troop than in my 10 years of formal schooling combined. The experiences and skills that Scouting gives are vital, yet so many grow up without them.

What are boards of review if not preparation for job interviews? Sure, they prove a point for Scout rank. But all of those times I sat before a group of new people, ready to make an impression, I gained that much more experience in ways most my age will never.

All those Scoutmaster conferences? Phone calls to assistant Scoutmasters for merit badges or such? I can’t even imagine how much easier that will make finding and keeping a good job later on. The courage to stand up for yourself rather than just sit and passively let whatever happens happen.

It’s really a shame that so many people are so closed-minded about what is, in my opinion, the last real experience someone my age can have in this day. No pretty disguises or excuses. It teaches a solid work ethic, and looking forward to college and beyond, that is 1,000 times more important than knowing how to kick or throw a ball or shoot a pixel on your TV. This program truly is a gem, one whose beauty is lost on all too many. And it’s a real shame.

I am, and proudly always will be, a Eagle Scout, a Warrior, and a Leader. I’m one of the elite 5 percent who made it. And that will ALWAYS mean something.

Looking forward to many more years of service to Scouting,

Steve Madigan

If you’d like to contact Steven, he has offered to share his email address.

What do you think?

Do you agree with Steven’s words? Leave your thoughts below.

Hat tip: Thanks to Gary Guider for sending this my way and, of course, to Steven Madigan for agreeing to let me post it.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.