Decorated military veteran encourages young Scouts to continue to serve Scouting

It’s common for a young person who’s earned the rank of Eagle Scout to drift away from Scouting, maybe until they develop the itch to serve again, or maybe even until they enroll their own children into the program.

Channing M. Zucker, retired naval officer and Distinguished Eagle Scout, says service shouldn’t end when you earn the rank of Eagle or age out of Scouting as a youth.

“You have rendered service throughout your Scouting life as you lived by the Scout Oath, Law and slogan,” Zucker, 86, told the audience at the Tidewater Council’s recognition banquet. “I am now encouraging you, as you go forward, to continue rendering it.”

Zucker, Eagle Scout Class of 1954, knows a thing or two about service. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of Troop 8 in Arlington, Massachusetts. His adult service began as an assistant Scoutmaster, troop committee member and Explorer post committee chair.

Later, he was the Webelos den leader and Cubmaster for his son’s pack in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and has served in many positions over the years for the Tidewater Council.

At the recognition banquet, Zucker spoke in front of the 2023 class of Eagle Scouts, a Venturing Summit Award recipient, the 2023 Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award winner, several Silver Beaver Award recipients, National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) Outstanding Eagle Scout Award recipients, Living Legends of Tidewater Council recipients, Good Turn Society members, James E. West fellows and more.

A lifetime of service

“Among the tenets of Scouting, the one that has always resonated most with me is service,” Zucker said. “It has been an integral aspect of Scouting from the very beginning. By service, I mean the submission of self to the willing rendering of helpfulness to others, without thought of return or reward.”

Zucker’s 32 years of naval service included sea duty on a cruiser, three destroyers and command of an oceanographic unit onboard a hydrographic survey ship. During his 12 years with the Defense Mapping Agency, he commanded its distribution and digital production centers.

Following his retirement from the Navy, he became executive director of the Historic Naval Ships Association. He also served as president of the Rotary Club of Hampton Roads.

It makes sense that service would be the tenet of Scouting that resonated with him the most.

“As Scouts and Scouters, we are attuned to it,” he said at the banquet. “It is doing something to assist a person, or to make something better in some way. We repeat it as the third point of the Scout Law. In the Scout Oath we promise to help other people at all times; and the slogan reminds us to Do a Good Turn Daily.”

The ship depicted on this commemorative shoulder patch is the USS Saint Paul, Channing’s first duty station during his Navy career.

How young adults can serve Scouting before they have kids

Scouts BSA members can serve their troop as junior assistant Scoutmasters before they even age out of the program.

When they turn 18, they can register as an assistant Scoutmaster.

Zucker encourages Scouts to stay registered with their troop even if they move away for college, or to find a new troop to serve near their new home.

“There will be opportunities when back home from school and on summer camp staff,” he said. “Wherever you find yourself on completing your formal education, there will always be a Scout troop nearby that would welcome you to contribute in some capacity.

“A few years later, with children of your own, you could be a den leader for your son’s or daughter’s Lion den.”

Zucker stressed the importance of continuing to serve, even if life does take you away from Scouting, by joining a national service fraternity or civic organization.

“Even if you do not become active in Scouting as an adult, there is an easy way to keep the spark alive,” he said. “It is by staying true to the Scout slogan. It will soon become second nature.”

Special thanks to Alison Harrison with the Tidewater Council for her contributions to this story. Photos courtesy of the Tidewater Council.

About Aaron Derr 468 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.