There’s a reason only about 10% of applicants get accepted into West Point each year.
The U.S. Military Academy takes only the best of the best: men and women who are physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
That explains why Michael Norris, an Eagle Scout from Red Bank, S.C., will join the academy’s Class of 2023 later this year.
Norris, a product of Troop 518 of the Indian Waters Council, says the topic of Scouting came up in all four West Point interviews. But it wasn’t the “Eagle Scout” name that did it. It was what those 10 letters represent.
“At each interview, I was commended for being an Eagle Scout,” Norris tells me. “However, the recognition for being an Eagle Scout was not nearly as valuable as the skills that came with it.”
Naturally, Norris needed to be in excellent shape (physically strong), have good grades (mentally awake) and show impeccable character (morally straight) to earn a spot at West Point.
But he says Scouting added essential leadership skills, built his character and developed within him “an ability to stay cool under pressure.”
“In my opinion, the road to getting my Eagle Scout and what the award symbolized was the strongest point in my application to West Point,” he says.
Prepared for the outdoors
Scouting came through in other ways, too.
This summer, in the weeks before his first year at West Point, Norris will go through Cadet Basic Training. He and other cadets will learn skills like knot-tying, marksmanship and orienteering.
Norris learned those skills at Troop 518 meetings and campouts. He perfected them while hiking the rugged trails of Philmont Scout Ranch in 2017.
Prepared to lead
At Philmont, Norris learned which knot was best for tying up bear bags. (Philmont recommends the lark’s head.)
But as the Scout in charge of his crew, Norris learned an even more valuable lesson.
“I was able to work through complex and difficult situations with my crew,” he says. “I learned a great deal about leadership.”
The same was true for his Eagle Scout service project, where Norris led a crew of volunteers as they built an outdoor park for a senior center.
Prepared for West Point
Scouting provided a firm foundation for Norris as he enters the academy this fall, but he doesn’t expect anything about West Point to be easy.
The days will be long, the courses difficult and the military discipline rigorous. But he’s ready.
“It’s a chance to push myself to new heights,” he says. “I cannot wait to get started.”
Thanks to Steven Scheid, Director of Scouting Ministry for the General Commission on United Methodist Men, for the blog post idea.