March 22, 2010

A 100 Years and Going Strong

Posted in Assignments at 8:57 am by ahonan

A hundred years ago, in 1911, American William Boyce was traveling in London. Boyce was lost in the fog, when he came upon a scout that offered to show him the way to his destination. When Boyce tried to pay the scout for helping him, the scout replied, “I’m just doing my term.” This Boy Scout made quite an impression on Boyce, for he brought the idea of scouting back to America with him. With help he started the first Scout troop in America. Boy scouts today are still going around fulfilling their ‘term,’ in other words, helping others.

To say boy scouting become popular is an understatement. In 1925, only 14 years after the introduction of the scouts, there were already a million members. This number only continued to grow throughout the years, reaching its 100 millionth member in 2000.

Only a small percentage of Boy Scouts go all the way to becoming an Eagle Scout. According to statistics from the boy scouts, out of every hundred scouts that join, 30 of them will drop out in their first year. Less than 3% of Scouts stick with the program and become Eagle Scouts, this can be seen in that even though in 2000 there were 100 million members, in 2009 only the 2 millionth Eagle Scout was installed.

Today, scouts are still joining the program and it is the schools and churches that are helping get kids interested in it.  According to Paul, an Eagle Scout I talked to, “In first grade, sheets of paper were passed around with information on starting Cub scouts.”

For several scouts it is a tradition in their family to become a scout. According two scouts that I talked to, they were both following in the footsteps of their family members. One followed after both his brother and his father while, the other proudly admitted to being a third generation Boy Scout. For both of these boys scouting has been a part of not only their lives, but their families.

“Parental pushing,” has kept some continuing in scouts early on, but it is the enjoyment of the activities and being with friends that are keeping them in scouts. The camp outs that the scouts go to are a favorite, even when it rains, the scouts still enjoy them. The scouts that I had talked to repeatedly said that scouts was fun, one stated that he is going to put it on his job resume because employers “Know you are a scout and you can get a better job.”

Not all scouting is fun and games, the scouts have to participant in community service projects, while these are not unbearable, they are not a favorite. The current scout leader stated, “That painting is the worst.”

The journey to becoming an Eagle Scout is as follows:

Starting as a Tiger Scout at the age of 6 or 7 the boys go on camping trips, learning to get along with one another. The next year, the boys start working on their first badge: the wolf badge, where they begin to learn what scouting is all about. Next the boys learn outdoor skill and about the environment to earn the bear badge.

Next is a two year program that teaches a range of things, from fitness to camping skills. In these two years the Webelos badge and the Arrow of Lights must be earned. The Arrow of Light badge is the highest award that can be earned in Cub scouting and is the only badge that a boy scout can wear from Cub Scouts.

To move onto the next stage in scouting the boys must learn the scout sign, the scout salute, the handshake, the scout oath and the scout law. The Scout oath comes from the 1909 when William Boyce received help from a scout. “Do a good term daily.”

Now the scouts become Second Class scouts where they must become self sufficient in the outdoors. At this stage scouts must learn to tie different types of knots among learning the skills to live outside. As a First Class Scout they must be able to camp out of their own, and begin earning merit badges. According to the Scout leader, “These badges were the easiest to get, most of them involving seating down with the other scouts and just hanging out.”

As a Star Scout, 6 merit badges must be fulfilled out of the 100 different kinds of badges available, and as a Life Scout an additional 5 badges have to be earned. To complete scouting and become an eagle scout another 10 badges must be completed for a total of 21, along with a service project to finish scouting. The badges involved in boy scouts, ranged from shooting at clay discs to knowing how to fingerprint to keeping track of personal finances.

Even though that is the end of Scouting, most still go to meetings and participate in Scout activities after they have earned their Eagle Scout badge. For these individuals scouting is not a chore that is being forced on them, but a decision they make.

Neil Armstrong and Gerald Ford, our 38th President were both Eagle Scouts, while Buzz Aldrin didn’t make it to Eagle Scout he too was part of boy scouts.


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