Monday, February 23, 2009

The Mentality of a Boy Scout

By Ezra Dreiblatt

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” At first glance to many people under the age of twenty-five, this seems like something out of the army manual. To nineteen-year-old Jason Scharch from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, it is the Boy Scout Oath that he stated countless times during his twelve years in the Boy Scouts of America. For Jason, the Boy Scouts played a large part in defining his pre-adolescent and teenage years. His troop of roughly 30 boys from his town provided him with camaraderie and a sense of purpose from a young age. For Jason’s parents, it was an opportunity for their son to learn essential outdoor skills while at the same time teaching Jason certain values that would serve him well later in life. The emphasis on honesty, responsibility, and leadership is one of the main reasons the Boy Scouts is still an important part of American culture.

Jason started out at the age of five in a Cub Scout Pack of fifteen boys from his town. The Cub Scouts are the youngest subdivision of the Boy Scouts and allow young boys an opportunity to be active and have fun. They also gave Jason an idea of what the Boy Scouts structure would be like. While all Boy Scouts are made aware of all that they can achieve within the organization, very few go all the way and achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Of the nineteen boys that Jason began the journey with, only he and one other put in the work and dedication necessary to become Eagle Scouts. From an early age in the Cub Scouts, Jason and his troop were taught outdoor skills such as lighting fires, creating shelters, and tying knots. More importantly though, the Boy Scouts began to slowly shape Jason into what they defined as a “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” man. All the important aspects of being a Boy Scout, such as the stating of the oath, the wearing of the uniform, and the acquisition of outdoor skills were molding Jason into becoming the type of man that the Boy Scouts had been churning out for a century. As a young boy, these aspects of the Boy Scouts did not resonate with Jason. The closeness of the troop as well as the competition to acquire badges was what drove him early in his time with the Boy Scouts.

Jason’s last four years with the boy scouts was when he says he learned the most and was finally able to apply the skills and values he had learned as a young scout. For example, at the age of fifteen he moved up in rank from just being a member of a troop to being a Senior Patrol Leader. This brought on a test of his leadership and communication skills because some members of the troop were older than him. It turned out that this wasn’t as big of a problem as even Jason thought because as he put it, “I wasn’t doubting my own abilities, and once they saw that, they didn’t wither.” In his junior year of high school, Jason decided that he would attempt to achieve the highest rank the Boys Scouts offered, the rank of Eagle Scout. According to Jason, “this had been something that I had always wanted to achieve but I had never thought I would actually stick with the Boy Scouts for that long.” To achieve this commendable rank, Jason had to lead his troop in building a hockey shed for his town. Receiving no assistance in terms of coordinating, it was Jason’s responsibility to contact the lumberyard, assemble the materials, and organize his helpers into groups in order to keep the operation as smooth as possible. His success in this venture proved that while the Boy Scouts may have lost some of their luster, they are still molding fine gentlemen every day.

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