College-age Eagle: ‘It may be called Boy Scouts, but it turned you into a man.’

As Michael Wright planned his speech about the benefits of Scouting for Troop 721’s annual banquet last month, he decided to include an Eagle Scout’s perspective.

He reached out to his son, Brendin, who is studying geology and geological engineering in college, to share some words from his days with the St. Louis, Mo., troop. Brendin earned his Eagle Scout Award in 2012. During his time in Boy Scouts, he went to Northern Tier once and Philmont twice. He served as senior patrol leader, earned 37 merit badges and received three Eagle palms.

But the high adventure and accomplishments weren’t what immediately jumped to Brendin’s mind. It was the life lessons, skills and character development. As Brendin wrote, “I don’t think I’d be who I am today without Scouting.”

Brendin’s speech

Michael shared with the troop what Brendin penned. His thoughts are a stellar reminder of the lasting impact Scouting has had and continues to have on millions of youth.

Here are some excerpts from his speech:

“Early on in my Scouting career, I was probably more of a pain to the other Scouts than I realized,” Brendin writes. “I was the kid brother they couldn’t get rid of, at least until the weekend was over. Always goofing off or bothering the older Scouts, I wasn’t interested in learning how to tie a square knot or build a working log cabin fire.”

Brendin says the longer he was in Scouts, the more he saw how beneficial those skills were. Now that he’s away at college, those skills prove invaluable.

“Cooking is something I use almost daily now, and I learned a lot of it in Scouts,” he writes. “Physical fitness from activities like swimming, hiking and carrying the menagerie of supplies out of the troop truck helped teach me the value of being in shape. Even something like sailing a boat on a lake at summer camp can teach you how to work with someone and overcome obstacles.”

Some of those obstacles stemmed from being in a leadership position. In addition to serving as senior patrol leader, Brendin had also been a patrol leader, scribe and troop guide. He learned how to take into account the individual needs of everyone in his patrol, how to set a good example each day at summer camp and how to look for ways to care for others, like consoling a young Scout who might be away from his family for the first time. But being a good leader isn’t about having all the answers.

“The longer I led, I found that as much as I was teaching those who followed me, I was learning from them. I learned patience, how to communicate effectively, and humility. Everything I did, everywhere I went and everyone I talked to gave me some knowledge I had previously lacked.”

Brendin concluded his speech outlining what Scouting means to him and how it can prepare one for life, from good citizenship to service.

“Boy Scouts prepares you for the things you’ll find in the world once you leave the troop, once you walk away from that last closing ceremony, when you hang up that uniform for the last time. It probably didn’t fit you when you started, but as time went by, you grew into it,” he writes. “You learned that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, and helpful and so on. You learned to Be Prepared and Do a Good Turn Daily. It may be called Boy Scouts, but it turned you into a man.”

About Michael Freeman 25 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.