I remember the first time he donned the blue uniform of a cub scout.
He was eight years old and strutted into the church building proudly wearing the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America. The next ten years were filled with campouts, high adventure, summer scout camp and weekly gatherings, as Rusty worked to fill his sash with merit badges.
Scouting became a source of growth and place of friendships as hours were poured into this “extracurricular activity” that was so much more than an extracurricular activity. Unlike the many good activities there are for our children to be a part of, this activity was more than a babysitting service or a social outlet. Under the leadership of great men, Rusty grew into a great man. He learned skills far more valuable than fire building or rafting. It was while he was fire building and rafting he learned how to lift others, problem solve, be a team player, lead, stand for what is right, honor his country, and be a man of character.
Scouting grew my boy into a man that any mother would be proud of. He has learned valuable life skills and developed the character strengths spoken of in the Boy Scout law as he lives the Boy Scout oath:
It was his goal to earn his Eagle. This is an achievement only earned by 4% of Boy Scouts worldwide. It is an honor that requires a high level of commitment, dedication, time, effort and drive.
“Periodically, we read about a young man becoming an Eagle Scout and we know we should be impressed – but why?
If you have never journeyed through the life of a BSA Boy Scout you most likely only have a general idea of what is required to earn the coveted Eagle Scout Award. Furthermore, you are not versed in the detailed intricacies, and at times, the all-consuming day-to-day Boy Scout experience. A young man does not become an Eagle Scout within a few months; it takes years.
Advancement through the seven required ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle is not something one can teach in a short amount of time.
Each rank is broken down into increments requiring the scout to master the skills of personal care and safety for one’s self, indoor sustainability, outdoor survival, and the ability to work with others; whether as a team or as their leader. Until the scout displays proficiency for what is required within each rank he is not able to advance.
The 21 required merit badges – 13 Eagle specific – are also challenging. Have you ever hiked 20 miles, listed the six functions of government as noted in the Preamble to the Constitution, or made a timeline of the history of environmental science in America? The Eagle Scout has. He had to accomplish tasks and learn large amounts of information to complete his Eagle required merit badges. These badges cover the spectrum of physical fitness – within the individual’s capabilities – to knowledge necessary for any college bound student.
Extensive service hours and service projects, along with living by the Scout Law: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent….
This is the life of a Boy Scout.
So, the next time you read of a boy who has just received their Eagle Scout Award – be impressed. This award was not handed to him, he earned it. It will not be one of those items packed away with the other trophies of his youth, but instead will be displayed in his daily actions and its quintessence will forever live in his heart.”
While it is an elusive honor overall, Rusty has been blessed to have the example of many Eagle Scouts in his life, including his father, which only increased his drive to work to earn this rank himself.
That desire, coupled with fantastic Scout leaders who have been a driving force in helping many young men earn this honor, led to the big day when Rusty and two of his fellow troop members received their Eagles.
This occurred the Saturday before Christmas. Despite being fully immersed in Christmas mode, the mothers of the other two Eagle Scouts (Bobby and Nate) and I met at the church to decorate for the ceremony.
We collaborated our efforts, gathered our scouting decor, and transformed the gym into a venue reflective of the Scouting program,
And one that honored these three boys and all their hard work!
That evening we returned to the church to watch as the boys in the troop received dozens and dozens of merit badges earned over the course of the previous six months. It was hugely impressive and a testament to some amazing scout leaders and some hard working young men!
When all the merit badges had been handed out it was time for the three boys receiving their Eagle to step forward and take center stage.
Each boy shared with the room the details of their personal Eagle Scout project.
One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.
Rusty’s Eagle Scout project was to build an outdoor riding area for Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non profit organization that pairs recued horses with special needs children through a therapeutic riding program. His project took the troop two long days of back breaking work but was a great blessing to that non-profit organization that could now increase the amount of sessions that could be offered each week.
This project was completed a year ago but Rusty still had two Eagle-required merit badges that had to be earned for him to meet all his requirements. Rusty earned those with his troop this fall and was able to stand before family and friends on December 22nd to receive his award.
Among those there to celebrate his achievement were his fellow Eagle Scouts, leaders, troop members and their families, Grace and Molly and Mimi Joy.
The parents of the Eagle Scouts were then called to the front.
As part of the ceremony each Eagle Scout is given three pins, in addition to the medallion that is placed on their breast pocket and handkerchief that is tied around their shoulders.
These three pins are pinned by the Eagle Scout on the lapel of the mother, the father and a person they consider a mentor,
As a way of acknowledging the loving support that assisted them as they worked toward the goal of Eagle.
Rusty chose to gift his mentor pin to Pete Grundberg, a man who has had an incredible influence on Rusty, both as a scout and as a young man. Pete’s dedication to troop 558, and his never ceasing effort to mold these young men, has led to many scouts earning the rank of Eagle. His influence has been great and it was a joy watching Rusty honor Pete as his mentor.
He definitely deserves the recognition!
Pete is one of many men who have been influential in Rusty’s scouting journey. It takes a tribe to raise a scout and how grateful I am for this amazing tribe of leaders and young men that are troop 558.
It has been an amazing ride with an epic conclusion!
Congratulations to our newest Eagle Scouts! We are so proud of your achievement!