Turning boys into men

April 02, 2012 04:08 pm

Like most kids, I joined Boy Scouts for the camp outs.

A friend told me about this great troop that went on an outing every month, and how much fun it was.

After my first camp out, a climbing trip to Catherine Creek, I knew that I had made the right choice in joining the troop. It was a fun group of guys that was doing what I loved, camping.

It wasn’t until much later however, that I found out why I was really in Boy Scouts. 

One of the first things you realize on a camp out with the Scouts is that everybody has a job to do. Older Scouts help manage younger Scouts, work teams are organized, and everyone works together for a common goal.

Now, as you all know, this isn’t always as smooth as it looks on paper, but it’s all a part of the learning experience. Even so, there are few groups for kids out there where this kind of thing happens. Rarely can you see so many completely different kids working together on that kind of level.

Another thing you realize when you spend time with a Scout troop is the amount of teen leadership that goes on. A troop, when it’s successful, is really run by the Scouts.

When I was in troop 514, adults were always around to guide us but it was us making the decisions, planning camp out meals, and teaching younger Scouts. 

Again, there are not many places where kids can do that.

From the moment you join Scouts, you’re taught responsibility. 

It’s kind of a big word that can mean a lot of things depending on who you ask, but I define it as taking initiative to make your own choices.

Not because you’re told to, but because you’re part of the group. In my view, Scouting teaches responsibility by giving it to the Scouts.

How can we expect kids to learn how to be responsible adults if we never step back and give them something to be responsible for? Too often it seems, we treat adolescents like children.

Scouting, on the other hand, does the opposite. I was eased into this, of course. I washed dishes, cooked on camp outs and planned meals. But eventually, I was helping to organize these outings and learning to lead others.  

And what better place for this journey of self-discovery than the great outdoors? There is something about the outdoors that strips away our hectic lives and personal problems and gets down to what’s really inside us. The wilderness is the place where you really find out who someone is.

This is why I am convinced that Scouting has the formula for boys to grow into young men. 

“The skills you learn in Boy Scouts will stay with you for the rest of your life.” 

We’ve all heard that line a thousand times, but it is true. And I’m not just talking about the knots you learn to tie or how to pitch a tent, but the greater skills you gain as you ascend the many ranks. 

This dawned on me during my Eagle Scout project, how much I had learned about responsibility and leadership, all in the spirit of service. I can attest that these traits are invaluable outside of Scouts as well.

Before I had even gotten my Eagle, my time in Boy Scouts had helped me through many tough times in school and elsewhere, whether it was with schoolwork or my leadership role as a section leader in the high school band.  

The values I learned in Boy Scouts have done me nothing but good in my life and I’m here to thank you all for supporting Scouting.

What you do gives boys a chance to grow up and become men.

Noel March is an Eagle Scout and he lives in La Grande.