It is an interesting association / reminder date for me. 32 years ago on February 12th, I sat for my board of review held by members of our boy scout troop’s committee and a representative from our district for the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. Yes, and they saw fit to approve the application too!
It was in the meeting rooms of the Astoria Presbyterian Church on 33rd street, next door to where I lived. Troop 90 was sponsored by the church since 1928.
Scouting was good for me. The program kept me off the streets while growing up. Scouting got me out of the city for weekend trips to the country. Events got me comfortable with alergies. The advancement program expanded my horizons. The merit badge program re-enforced things I liked to do – stamp collecting, coin collecting and railroading were my first three merit badges, followed eventually by printing, computers and photography. All topics which have become connected with my profession. (I have often said that if you look at a fellows merit badge sash you could see what he was to become in life.)
Being in a troop taught me a bit about group dynamics, personalities, different opinions and religious beliefs.
I was involved in the program since a cub scout, so at 16 when I became Eagle, I was in the scout uniform for half my life. It was a big thing to have completed the advancement levels.
It has been a foundation to give back. I followed the example of the scoutmaster at the time, Joseph Chavatel. He earned his Eagle Award in the troop in 1964, and when he returned from service in Vietnam got involved in the troop as scoutmaster for 7 years. When his job took him to Washington DC, after a short interium, I took over the troop as scoutmaster which I did for 15 years until moving out to Wisconsin. Sadly after the short service of the scoutmaster after me, and 70 years in Astoria the troop closed.
However, I still see the program as a positive, and have remained active on a Venture Crew committee here in Central Wisconsin.
I’ve even gotten to write a book – the Standard Price Guide of U.S. Scouting Collectibles, which is still availale (autographed) from the author at a discounted $15.00 postpaid.
Do I disagree with some of the policies of the movement? Yes. (Can you say the three Gs) But as Michael Bloomberg reminded us in attendance during a Greater New York Council Eagle Scout Dinner some years ago (before becoming mayor of NYC) it is better to remain in the movement and try to affect change from within than leave the movement and try to do it from the outside as a non-member.