Best and Brightest

Ken Gorrellby Ken Gorrell,
Weirs Times Contributing Writer

There’s nothing quite as life-affirming as attending a Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor, recognizing the accomplishments of a new Eagle Scout. I’ve attended six Eagle ceremonies as a Troop adult volunteer, and left each one feeling a bit more hopeful about the future.

Last Sunday I was honored and humbled to give the keynote address at an Eagle ceremony. It’s not every day I can stand in front of some of our nation’s best young men – and the parents, family, and friends who helped them become our best – and say that getting to know and work with them in Scouting has made me a better adult. Some of that is due to the magic of Scouting, but mostly it’s a credit to the character of the boys who wear the uniform.

That evening we celebrated a truly remarkable young man: Eagle Scout, Scholar-Athlete, member of the National Honor Society, captain of two high school sports teams, a class officer, active in his community – the list goes on. This is the kind of young man you’d hope your daughter would introduce as her prom date, the guy you’d hope would be your son’s best friend, the person you’ll want to hire or have as a neighbor. He’s a young man of accomplishment and character; one of America’s best and brightest.

I’ve seen him lead our Troop as expertly as any junior officer I worked with in the Navy. He’s a natural leader who seems to instinctively tune into the needs of those around him. Younger Scouts look up to him not because he’s older or attained higher rank, but because he’s earned their trust and respect – they seem drawn into his orbit as if by gravitational force. We need more young men like him.

A couple of years ago Forbes contributor Ken Krogue wrote an article about the “1 Thing Eagle Scouts And Competitive Athletes Have In Common,” explaining why his company sought out both:

“Eagle Scouts have to persevere to finish. They have a wide range of skill sets. They learn to do hard things. They are disciplined. They aren’t afraid of performance. They learn to lead in real world scenarios. They sacrifice their time to serve. They are also more mentally tough. Their values are perseverance, discipline, achievement, accountability, leadership, completing tasks, doing hard things, as well as their more well-known values…”

He proceeded to list the twelve values in the Scout Law: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Scouts recite these values at every Troop meeting, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Scout Oath, which begins, “On my honor, I will do my best…”

Krogue’s favorite value was trustworthiness, important in business and our personal lives. He related the story of a coworker whose son told her that “being trustworthy is even more important than being loved. A parent loves every child in the family, but they need to be able to count on their children to do what they are asked to do. That is trustworthy.” (A good question for candidates this political season: “What does ‘trustworthy’ mean to you?”)

Living the Scout Oath and Law isn’t easy, but they can be learned and put into practice. And when they are, the results are impressive. In a 2010 Baylor University study (“Eagle Scouts: Merit Beyond the Badge”), researchers found statistically significant differences that separate and elevate Eagle Scouts, such as being more likely to:

– participate in health and recreational activities;•

– show a greater connectedness to siblings, neighbors, religious community, friends, co-workers;

– feel a duty to God, service to others, service to the community;

– be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual, and financial goals.

It’s easy to read news about the environment in which our nation’s youth are being raised, and despair. Our education system rewards mediocrity and promotes conformity in the name of “diversity.” It bans games like “tag” to “ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.” It suspends boys who make a “gun” with their fingers or use force rather than mere words to stop the assault of a fellow student. Educators suspend free speech rights to create “microaggression-free” campuses, as if that will help prepare students for living in the adult world.

Participating in a Boy Scout Eagle ceremony renews my faith in a better future, in a place where traditional American values will still have meaning. As long as parents can raise children like these, there is hope.

Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com