Worth reading: Eagle Scout’s essay on “The Importance of Scouting in America”

In a passionate, well-thought-out essay that also serves as an excellent endorsement of Scouting, Julia Shepherd, a member of the BSA’s inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, starts by listing a handful of famous Eagles. Then, she writes:

These people have all made their mark on the world, a path led to them through Scouting. Leaders have to make decisions, be problem solvers, face adversity, and follow their moral obligations – all principles of Scouting. … Teaching young girls and boys the values of responsibility, loyalty, leadership, and camaraderie at this age equips them for life in the reality we live in. In the ever-changing society that we are a part of, these characteristics are fundamental for children to possess and carry with them into adulthood.

The essay was part of a Central Florida Council scholarship contest. Apparently, the judges were as impressed as I was: They awarded her first place.

The importance of the uniform

Julia, from Troop 4773 in Longwood, Fla., expresses her thoughts on — among other things — the importance of the principles that kids learn in Scouting. She also uses the Scouts BSA uniform as a metaphor for everything that Scouting is about.

All of the different components of the uniform combine to form a harmonious unit, much like Scouts in America. Although there is much more to a Scout than the uniform they wear, it encapsulates everything that Scouting stands for. From the leadership to the unity to the citizenship, the uniform and the values embodied within it resemble the true importance of Scouting in America.

The uniform belt, Julia says, represents the support Scouts show to each other.

Whether it is at a troop meeting or on a camping trip, Scouts are almost always working together. Building the trust and skills to work in a team empowers everyone to continue pushing towards the goal.

The neckerchief slide holds the neckerchief in place, as Scouts must hold onto their values. The position patch signifies leadership. And the council patch represents the community to which all Scouts belong.

Photo courtesy of the Shepherd family

The importance of character

Julia interjects some personal anecdotes throughout, including the time she and some other older Scouts helped some new Scouts set up their equipment the first time they went camping. She also emphasizes the benefits of the BSA’s merit badge program.

The Personal Fitness merit badge discovered my love for tennis, the Citizenship in the Community merit badge formed my aspirations to run for city council, and the Fingerprinting merit badge intrigued my career interest in forensic science. Exploring these new subjects at a young age helps pinpoint future aspirations and goals.

Julia, who is now studying neuroscience at the University of Central Florida, concludes her essay by writing about perhaps the most important patch of them all: the U.S. flag emblem worn on the right shoulder.

America needs the youth’s generation to be endowed with the values of hard work and morals to better the future of our world and our society. … Scouts are our future, and they are equipped with a skillset that gives me confidence and faith in the future of our country.

Click here to read Julia’s essay in its entirety.

About Aaron Derr 455 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.