You might think an Olympic kayaking hopeful spends every waking moment on the water, leaving no time for Scouting.
You might think that. But then you meet Augustus Cook.
The 16-year-old Eagle Scout from Troop 78 in Edmond, Okla., competes against some of the top paddlers in the world. He’ll travel to Poland next month for an international competition, and he dreams of making the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.
But even with that busy sports schedule, Gus finds time for Scouting. He earned Eagle at 14 and kept going. He puts in extra hours as a troop guide and den chief to mentor younger Scouts.
“If you really want something, you will either find the time or make the time for it,” he says. “You have to want it.”
Let’s meet Gus.
Moments in Scouting
I was somewhat surprised to learn that Gus’s favorite Scouting trip — so far — was on dry land. In 2015, Troop 78 took a 50-mile backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado. Gus also looks forward to his troop’s annual wilderness survival camp each December.
Neither outing involves kayaks.
And in the biggest twist of all, Gus has not earned the Kayaking merit badge. It’s hard to find a merit badge counselor for Kayaking MB in the Oklahoma City area — other than at summer camp, where he likes to focus on other pursuits.
When Gus turns 18, he wants to help reverse that trend. He plans to register as a volunteer so he can offer the Kayaking merit badge on the Oklahoma River and elsewhere. That would be quite a Good Turn.
“I love helping younger Scouts learn and achieve their goals,” he says, “It’s rewarding to me.”
Speaking of Good Turns, for his Eagle Scout service project, Gus led an effort to beautify a common area at his former middle school. He built six big planter boxes and filled them with soil and plants.
Moments in kayaking
When Gus was 10, he attended a two-week Riversport OKC kayak camp on the Oklahoma River. He’s been hooked ever since.
Gus has paddled his way into the Olympic Development Program for canoe/kayak.
He’s the 2018 National Champion in the under-18 division for one-man kayaking at the 1,000- and 500-meter distances. Because of his winning ways on the water, Gus gets to represent the United States at the Olympic Hopes Regatta next month in Poznań, Poland.
Good luck, Gus!