My first memories of Boy Scouts were frustrating to say the least. I had just moved up from Cub Scouts and was about to begin my trail to Eagle when I hit my first major bump in the road—summer camp.
It was my first time away from home on my own and even though my father was a leader in the troop, he kept his distance from me. The first night at Camp Squanto up in Massachusetts was scary. An owl, along with other creatures of the night, kept me awake and soon enough, negative thoughts started creeping into my head. I was crying and homesick in no time. However, my father and the rest of the leaders would not let me call home. They had me stay and face my fears.
So instead of running away, I participated in activities, met new people and developed relationships with my friends. Before I knew it, the week of summer camp was complete. When I got home, I could not stop talking about how much fun I had swimming, climbing and learning about nature.
Although I have aged out of the Scouting program, I continue to gain so much from my time in scouts from working Boy Scout summer camp to visiting my troop on occasion or catching up with friends I met through Scouting.
I am reminded often of lessons I learned in scouts. Facing your fears can be difficult, but Scouting forces you to take them on whether you are ready to or not.
But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that serving is living your life for others. Whether it is cleaning up town, running a food drive or organizing a service project, it all helps. The best part is you expect and receive nothing in return. This pure exchange of assistance with gratitude gives everyone involved the feeling that what is being accomplished is worth more than a few dollars.
It feels amazing when someone comes up to you to thank you, and truly means it. I experienced this when I attained my Eagle Scout Rank. For my project, I replaced a broken down foot bridge and 12 wooden walkways called puncheons on the Wantage, N.J. portion of the Appalachian Trail with a brand new bridge and 18 puncheons.
“Sean, thank you. This means a lot,” I was told when I completed my project.
“It is really going to help a lot of people. Thank you!”
At Seton Hall, students who volunteer with DOVE and other groups on campus really help the South Orange community. However, I have noticed that there is no Venturing Crew on campus that gives people 18 through 21 the opportunity to experience Scouting. I hope in the future that a Crew can be established here so others who may have missed their chance can get the Scouting experience.
I can offer two personal reasons why serving, and Scouting, both are great goals.
Number one is the lifelong relationships that you will form. I can only speak for Boy Scouts or Venturing, but whenever I meet a fellow Eagle Scout, it is a special experience.
Number two is that the program challenges and transforms you on a daily basis. You know that a person has gotten the most out of Scouting when they talk about how they built something, what natural way they went about keeping a fire lit or what fear they were able to overcome.
For those who still don’t understand what Scouting is about, I can sum it up in 12 words that everyone can understand and live by. A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Like the friends and skills I gained through scouts, those words continue to stick with me. Acting on them in our daily lives is important, even if you were never a scout.