A Sign That Matters

By Erica Courtney

Have you ever walked around and noticed project markers that show a Boys Scout troop’s involvement in something? It could be a trail, a barrier to protect habitat, improvements within schools or churches, structures that were built, food and cloths drive for the needy and more? Have you ever thought about the meaning of that Scout’s journey and what it took to get to that point? Do you automatically point to recent controversies the organization has endured and think negatively or do you take the time to ask questions and learn about the positivity the organization has provided to the individual Scout, the communities they serve and the benefit to our nation? As a mother who has been very involved in the process since my boys were five, I have only good things to say about our experience as a family.

Scouting is about the journey. The friends you and your child make. Life lessons seldom taught elsewhere like leadership, problem-solving, perseverance and long-term commitment. The ability to accomplish goals and work towards obtaining the title of Eagle Scout. It is the highest attainable rank and widely recognizable by college admissions, government and corporate. It tells possible employers you have achieved something others have not. In fact, since the Scouts inception in 1911, only four percent, 2.5 million in total, of Scouts have earned this rank. Eagles are much more likely to volunteer, have closer relationships with family and friends, lead in their places of employment, donate money to charitable groups, make their neighborhoods safer, run for office, serve their country and have healthier lives. A snapshot list of Eagle Scouts include Nobel Prize laureates, Medal of Honor recipients, astronauts, public office holders from Presidents to Senators, Pulitzer Prize winners, CEOs, entertainers and top athletes. The skills they learn in Scouting gives them an excellent base to succeed in life.

Scouts have to earn a minimum of 21 merit badges which cover a range of topics from citizenship, personal management, emergency preparedness, first aid, fitness, camping, communications and more. Many start when they are in first grade and go through high school balancing sports, academia, jobs, family and more. The culmination of it all is completion of an Eagle Scout Project. The opportunity demonstrates all they have learned and they have to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project that benefits of the community. Extensive project requirements mandate that the Scout plans, organizes, fundraises, leads and manages the entire project. They submit their project proposal for approval, organizes people and equipment and executes. Once complete, they summarize everything for the Council where they will invite the Scout for a final review board. Only then, if approved, can they earn the title of Eagle Scout.

My son, Noah, has endured a lot as a military child moving five times and is now at his third high-school. Within the last seven months he has totaled a car and was involved in a life-threatening ski accident where he spent two weeks in the hospital and is still in recovery. He has come out stronger and has a new lease on life driven even more to succeed and finish his Eagle Project. He values his life and knows how easily it can change. The one constant in his life has always been Scouts and family. My husband is an Eagle Scout and wanted his son’s to share in the same journey he went through as a kid. One dropped out after many years, but Noah stuck with it. Now here we are-he is completing his Eagle project where over 20 people showed up to support him, the Troop and community. His focus is to replace a rotting barrier protecting habitat and sand dunes in one of the most heavily trafficked areas in our town of Half Moon Bay. The population of our little coast side community is just 13,000 people yet we get over 2.6M visitors a year putting stain on the infrastructure and natural habitat. So, Noah’s intent is to guide people to the appropriate foot path protecting the dunes.

It has been great to watch him become a young man. He is taking ownership of this project and is not asking for our help even though we know he is missing a thing or two in terms of logistics but that is the process. He will learn from this realizing things happen, and it is how you react that determines your ability to motivate others and accomplish the task. I am so proud of my son and thankful to the community and Troop for giving my son direction and focus. Noah will do great things in life. Being part of the four percent sets him apart not only on paper, but amongst his peers. So, the next time you are walking in your community and see a Boy Scout Project marker, think of the work it took to get there and hopefully it inspires you to give back. It takes a village.