The B.S.A.

One of the largest influences on my life and my character is my time with the Boy Scouts of America. The long road to my Eagle Scout rank showed me the benefits of the organization and the trips it offers. My outings with my troop were some of the most fun and meaningful experiences of my life. Nothing else could have taught me as much as my time in Scouts. I learned how to survive in the wilderness and in day-to-day life while building a habit of being honest and prepared. I believe that Scouting is a great program that provides a host of benefits to those that follow it through. The opportunities that it offers are fantastic, and unique. The skills that scouts learn are invaluable, and the habits that the program instills are those of honesty and preparedness.

Almost nowhere besides Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts do kids get the opportunities to go on fantastic trips with close friends that would make even adults jealous. In my time with the Boy Scouts, I saw more of the wonders nature has to offer than most people can ever hope to see. I enjoyed hot springs and waterfalls in the narrow, towering canyons off the Colorado River. With my troop, I have summited the two highest mountains in Colorado, where I breathed air so thin it seemed to not be there at all. At the end of a long day of canoeing, I watched the sun set over a Canadian lake so calm it was like a mirror. In New Mexico, a dozen scouts and I trekked 80 miles through forests, mountains, and valleys carrying everything we needed to survive. These are the types of experiences that Scouting has to offer to anyone willing to put in the effort. However realistic high definition televisions get, they will never be able to adequately reproduce all of the sights, smells, and sounds of the wilderness.
The smell of the fresh pine trees, the sound of a rushing river, and the warmth of a setting sun are things that television can never replicate. Everyone has seen pictures and videos of wild animals, but spending time in the woods is the only way to see them in real life. Like many people, I enjoy watching the T.V. series like Plant Earth and The Blue Planet, but they cannot give viewers the great sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching a mountaintop through one’s own abilities. The challenging journey makes the view from the summit a more emotional and memorable experience. Furthermore, it is far healthier for a person to go on a hike than to sit on a couch and watch a television show about what they could have seen. These are the reasons Scouts go camping in the wilderness, and why any kids or parents who have a chance should join them. Anybody can go on a hike, but only the scouts offer an organization dedicated to teaching how to survive and thrive in the woods.

One does not get to enjoy any of the afore mentioned outings without notable preparation and experience. Without them, these trips could end in tragedy. One of the most important, and most useful lessons learned in Scouting is that leaving the comfort and safety of civilization is rewarding and fun, but also very dangerous. Because of this danger, the outings that precede the more notable trips are designed to give the scouts experience and a number of skills to help them. This set of skills that we teach the scouts are not only for surviving the wilderness, but also for being better prepared for the challenges faced in everyday life. I learned the value of being prepared when my canoe capsized on a lake in Canada, miles from the nearest human being. In the wilderness, being thoroughly soaked in very cold water is bad for anyone that wants to avoid hypothermia. Our troop had prepared us for this possibility, and the other people in our crew immediately affected a rescue of us and our gear that was floating in the water. Our canoe training got us out of the water quickly; our preparation kept our gear dry in waterproof bags; and our wilderness survival training gave us the sense to change into dry clothes as soon as possible. Because of our planning we were able to turn a potential disaster into a mere inconvenience. Scouting shows all of its members to give the same amount of preparation in everything we do in life as we did for these wilderness trips. While knowing how to quickly recover a capsized canoe is not beneficial to everyday life, being prepared in everything one does is definitely worthwhile. The same training that taught us how to avoid hypothermia also taught us how to recognize a heart attack or stroke, perform CPR, stop severe bleeding, and treat shock, stings, and bites of all kinds. None of these are useless skills, and all of these are taught to the scouts.

As shown in the previous paragraph, outings are not always easy. They are, however, worth the strain and the risk. Had the trip ended there, had we given up and returned home, we never would have been able to watch bald eagles hunt for fish on the lakes. We would not have been able to watch the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, to which no IMAX can compare. Every one of the big outings was a challenge and an opportunity for growth. I came back from the trips stronger, both physically and mentally. The outings were always worth whatever struggle they caused. There is no feeling like summiting a 14,440 foot mountain, and not being able to see anything rise above you. Even the clouds passed below the summit of Mt. Elbert. The sense of accomplishment at summiting such a peak is entirely unique. Boy Scouts offers a chance at this experience to any youth that wants to join.

Most people have, at one point, seen the list of famous people that are Eagle Scouts. The list includes people like Neil Armstrong and Steven Spielberg. For the rest of one’s life, an Eagle Scout can put on his resume that he reached the well-known, final rank of Boy Scouts. It is not an easy task, but it is worthwhile. Here at ASU, I have met other Eagle Scouts with whom I became instant friends. “Once and Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout” is more than a saying: it’s a demonstration of the influence that becoming an Eagle Scout has on a person. It shows that the Scouting program has an effect so great that it lasts for the rest of a man’s life.

Lastly, the best reasons to join Scouting are very simple. It is a lot of fun and the kids that join will definitely make a lot friends. There is nothing better than a camping trip with close friends that share the same experience and ability to take care of themselves. It is much more enjoyable to go on trips with people share the same appreciation for nature and love for the outdoors than those that prefer the city life. Of my friends on my floor at ASU, the only people with camping experience are scouts. The rest are not likely to ever be able to go canoeing in Canada, or trekking across New Mexico. Their opportunities to enjoy these trips are fading. It may be that Scouting offers the only chance a person may have to go on trips like the ones I discussed. Many people will eventually have the time and money to go on such adventures, but will they also be fit and motivated enough to summit the mountain? I have seen several new parents of scouts attempt to join us for our outings, but never to return for a second try. It is much more difficult to go hiking and backpacking with a beer gut and back problems.

A number of people view the Boy Scouts as a strange organization that focuses on earning insignificant merit badges and going on silly nature hikes in ridiculous uniforms . I can assure you that any reservations a person may have about joining a troop are unnecessary. I know troops like this, and they are a minority. Every major city has a multitude of troops, each one unlike the last. There is a large variety in the people and focus of the troops. All a prospective scout must do is visit a couple and see which will suit him best.

The Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America are two fantastic organizations that offer kids and teenagers the chance to experience what nature has to offer. However good 3-D movies become, they will never compare to actually being on the mountain top. No photograph of a sunset can let you smell the forest after rain and give you the exhausted sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that all the wilderness that is visible is yours for that moment. Scouting does offer this. Lastly, it offers a program that teaches people how to be prepared for almost any situation and to be a good person.





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