Andrew Stokes didn’t set out to earn every one of the BSA’s top awards for youth.
He just enjoyed the journey of Scouting and discovered that advancing in rank and completing award requirements came naturally.
It started when Andrew earned his first BSA award at age 8. The Cub Scout religious emblem, worn with pride on his blue uniform shirt, taught him “how to build a closer relationship with God,” he says.
And now, after 12 years of unforgettable adventures, Andrew has earned the top award in every BSA program — the Arrow of Light (Cub Scouts), Eagle Scout Award (Scouts BSA), Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouting), Summit Award (Venturing) and Denali Award (Varsity Scouting, a program that has since been discontinued).
”This is the beginning of something great,” Andrew tells Bryan on Scouting. “I will do my best to leave a legacy and change the world for generations to come through my service, leadership and anything I have to offer to God’s great country.”
As Andrew begins his last year of college and prepares to enter the U.S. Army, he shares with Bryan on Scouting readers one key lesson learned from each award.
How he found the time
I checked, and Andrew’s day lasts just 24 hours. But he tries to pack as much as possible into those 1,440 minutes.
In high school, Andrew put in extra effort to become a successful student and stellar athlete. But he left space in his schedule for Scouting, too.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t have time to do everything. I had to make time,” he says. “I was constantly working on multiple projects in school and in Scouts. Time management is definitely a skill I learned in Scouts that will stick with me in the military — also being creative and having fun with everything you do. Just make the most of everything you can.”
That commitment to working hard and seizing life’s opportunities helped Andrew develop strong leadership skills, integrity and a commitment to serving others.
That explains his success on the football field and in the classroom at the University of Texas at El Paso. Andrew landed a coveted walk-on spot on UTEP’s Division I football team and made the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll.
This summer, he completed basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and plans to join the Army after graduating.
And even though he finished his Eagle project in 2013, Andrew continues to serve others. Over the summer, he kept in football shape by doing volunteer work in El Paso. Not for service hours or an award but because looking out for others is what Scouts do.
“I wanted to do something to help the community, help veterans, help out the Elks,” he told the El Paso Times. “It ended up being a lot of fun.”
2008: Cub Scout religious emblem
The first award Andrew ever earned was a religious emblem received as a Bear Scout.
“When I was presented this, I knew that it was not about a title but what you get out of it,” he says. “I still attend church and I am a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”
2010: Arrow of Light (Cub Scouts)
Andrew calls this one a “rite of passage.”
”This was the first time I felt that I could look back and see the years of work I had put into something,” he says. “It taught me that years of perseverance and commitment add up to something great.”
2013: Eagle Scout Award (Boy Scouts/Scouts BSA)
Andrew earned this signature BSA award on May 20, 2013 — the day before his 14th birthday. He says the Eagle Scout Award has powerful name recognition. It sends a signal to other people, even if they aren’t part of Scouting themselves.
”It separates you from your peers,” he says. “It shows you will go the extra mile to get the job done, no matter the obstacles you face or the resources you have.”
2013: Founder’s Award (Order of the Arrow)
The Founder’s Award, presented by OA lodges to recognize outstanding service, shows that others took notice of Andrew’s commitment to selfless service.
”Work like somebody’s watching, even when nobody is, because in the results, everyone will see who really has been putting in the work necessary to do your best and be the best,” he says.
2014: TRUST Award (Venturing)
Andrew says this religious award, which promotes understanding and tolerance, “had me take another look at my perspective on my beliefs and how I personally connect my morals to my religion.”
He says the award deepened his respect for the values and morals of others while strengthening his own.
2015: Vigil Honor (Order of the Arrow)
After being in the OA for four years and serving as lodge chief (twice), chapter chief and section chief, Andrew received the OA’s highest recognition.
“I was taught that this honor is bestowed upon Arrowmen not only for what they have done, but what is expected of them,” he says.
2017: Denali Award (Varsity Scouting)
Along with some friends from his troop, Andrew started a Varsity team focused on competitive powerlifting. Their hard work and dedication led them to take first place at a powerlifting event in West Texas and qualify for nationals.
The Denali Award, the highest award in the now-discontinued Varsity Scouting program, came soon after.
“I put so much work into founding this team and training with my team as team captain, and it all paid off,” Andrew says. “I learned that leading is about building from the ground up, knowing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in order to function as an elite force — something I will apply in my future endeavors as a soldier.”
2017: Summit Award (Venturing)
During his first semester at UTEP, Andrew also served as president of a Venturing crew.
He earned the Summit Award by demonstrating excellence in adventure, leadership, service and personal growth.
“The Summit Award, to me, was a metaphor,” Andrew says. “Although I had reached one summit, I still had many more to climb.”
2019: Venturing Leadership Award
The Yucca Council presented Andrew with the Venturing Leadership Award for his efforts to grow this older-youth program in El Paso and beyond.
“At this point, I realized that I have made friends all around the country through Venturing, the Order of the Arrow and every other form of Scouting,” he says.
2020: Quartermaster Award (Sea Scouting)
In August 2018, Andrew and a few members of his OA lodge wanted to start a Sea Scout ship. Not surprisingly, Andrew was elected boatswain.
“From there, we started building our knowledge of Sea Scouting and how to do so many things we never would have learned if we had only been in one program,” he says. “Sea Scouting really opened my eyes to the effort that goes into surviving on the seas and the importance of boat maintenance.”
Even after all the awards Andrew had earned, he says the traditions and ranks of Sea Scouting “seemed so new and different.”
On April 22, 2020, he passed his bridge of review for the Sea Scout Quartermaster Award.
A week later, he left for basic training in South Carolina, meaning his bridge of honor had to wait.
On Aug. 14, 2020, the day finally came.
”It takes a lot of maturity and skill to earn the Quartermaster Award,” Andrew says. “It was very challenging and a worthy closing of my career as a youth — and even better opening to my career as an adult Scouter.”
So where does Andrew go from here? Wherever he wants.
After his senior year at UTEP, where he’s a cadet in the Army ROTC, Andrew will pursue a career as a military lawyer.
”I also wish to serve my country in other capacities and later on found my own company,” he says. “And being a Scoutmaster is definitely in the picture.”
Thoughts from Mom and Dad
Andrew didn’t walk this path alone. His parents, Lowell and Christina, were supporting him every step of the way as adult volunteers.
Christina says that whether your Scout aspires to earn one award or all of them, it’s critical to experience the journey as a family.
“Support, encourage and enjoy this time with your Scout,” Christina says. “We don’t know where their adult lives will take them, so make the best memories you can while you can for a fulfilling experience.”
“Scouting, for us, has been a way of life,” he says, “not just a program.”