Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming was interviewing some candidates for staff positions and had narrowed the field down to a few finalists.
He asked one applicant whether he was in any youth activities growing up.
“Well, yes, I was in Boy Scouts,” the candidate said.
“So how far did you get?” Enzi asked.
“Well, I was an Eagle.”
“You know,” Enzi told him, “if you had put that on your résumé we wouldn’t have needed this interview.”
The shared language of what it means to be an Eagle was spoken fluently at the annual Gathering of Eagles on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The 2016 edition, timed to coincide with the BSA’s Report to the Nation visit, welcomed two congressmen, one senator, and dozens of Capitol Hill staffers to a reception in their honor. The common thread: Everyone invited is an Eagle Scout.
Enzi, a Distinguished Eagle Scout who earned Boy Scouting’s highest honor in 1957, reminded his brethren that the Eagle title will open doors for decades beyond their 18th birthday.
“Don’t forget to put that on your résumé the rest of your life,” Enzi said. “It’s that kind of an honor. Even people who weren’t even in Scouts know that that’s a difficult achievement. That you have special capabilities if you have an Eagle.”
That said, Enzi made sure to remind everyone that any time in Scouting is vital — even if it doesn’t end in Eagle.
“If you’ve been in Scouts, no matter how far you got, you learn things that nobody else learns,” he said. “There’s no other place that you can learn those things.”
Here’s what two other Eagle Scout legislators had to say.
Rep. Chris Collins of New York
Collins, a Distinguished Eagle Scout who is leader of the Congressional Scouting Caucus, has been a proud Scouter most of his life.
He camped with his son from grade school through his senior year and attended two National Scout Jamborees (2005 and 2010). His son is an Eagle Scout, and Collins has seen how Scouting can help guide a young man toward positive choices.
“The 12 points of the Scout Law are a compass that allow these boys to make the decision, when it can be tough, what’s the right decision,” he said. “I like to point to the Scout Law, the first three words: ‘On my honor.’ We can’t celebrate that enough. ‘On my honor.'”
Collins needed only to look around the room — at Eagle Scouts young and old — to have his Scouting confidence renewed.
“Eagle Scouts and the Scouts of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” he said.
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas
Sessions, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and member of the Congressional Scouting Caucus, has been involved with this gathering of Capitol Hill Eagle Scouts for years.
He served as emcee for Wednesday’s event, and he even delivered a de facto Scoutmaster’s minute.
Sessions held up a copy of the latest edition of the Boy Scout Handbook and flipped to a page about declination.
“What is declination? It’s the difference between magnetic north and true north,” he said. “There’s a slight variation.”
But Sessions wasn’t talking about navigation. He was discussing how one should live life.
True north, Sessions explained, is God, family and country.
“That is a true north that you never vary from,” he said. “Never.”
Magnetic north is everything else — decisions you make, your beliefs and your personal values. Rather than living your life solely attracted to magnetic north, the goal should be to balance the two.
“If you will live your life in declination, somewhere between magnetic north and true north … you will not only have a successful life, you’ll have one that you can look yourself in the mirror, and, even on your last great day, you can say ‘I did my best to do my duty to God and my country,'” he said.
Sessions then led the group in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Later, as the evening ended, Sessions was one of the last Eagle Scouts to leave the event, posing with pictures and shaking hands with anyone who wanted to meet him.
Our Chief Scout Executive addresses the gathering
Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, also an Eagle Scout, took a moment to address the Gathering of Eagles.
He thanked Enzi, Collins and Sessions for their contributions to Scouting and our nation.
“There are Eagle Scouts and those who have ascended to a different level,” he said. “There are Distinguished Eagle Scouts, one of the most unique and revered awards in the Boy Scouts of America.”
The state of Scouting is strong, Surbaugh told his fellow Eagle Scouts.
“We see a renewed energy, excitement and spirit across America,” he said. “Scouting is growing; it’s on fire. We’re having Cub Scout packs and Boy Scouts troops that are seeing numbers that they haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years. Life is good in Scouting.”
He challenged the leaders in the room to use their positions of power to help continue that trend.
2015 Report to the Nation
Photos by Michael Roytek and Randy Piland.