The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By SSG Etherington
Valley County Voices 

Where Have All the Boy Scouts Gone?


While serving food with the Boy Scouts at the Veteran’s Memorial Dedication in Fort Peck on Independence Day, I was taken off-guard by a comment made by a woman and her husband. They said they were surprised to see Boy Scouts and didn’t know they still existed. They added that it was nice to see young men with their pants pulled up, clean cut, behaving respectfully. I thought, “What other way would they act?” They are Boy Scouts after all. What worried me, however, was not that there are young men in the world who are not acting appropriately, but the fact that she didn’t think there were still Boy Scouts. So I have to ask, “Where have all the Boy Scouts gone?”

Personally, I became a Scout at 12 years old and I relished it. It wasn’t basketball which my sister and brother were good at, and it wasn’t something someone had to talk me into, or threaten my grades over. It was mine, it was good for me, and I liked it. I started volunteering for leadership positions and going on every activity possible. I learned rock climbing, survival, first aid, shooting sports, and other activities that would later prove invaluable in so many ways.

The list of practical things I learned through Scouts was endless, but the most important thing I learned was self-reliance. I learned to look at a problem and solve it. I learned to adapt, to think, to organize, communicate and lead. I learned that standing there thinking about problems was pointless and that I had to act to fix them or even organize others to do the same. I learned that if I can do without it, I will do without it. I learned that if I do for others before myself I will be better off in the end. In essence I learned how to serve.

Those lessons brought me, with little doubt in my mind, to where I am today. I joined the Marine Corps out of high school, partly because an Eagle Scout buddy of mine talked me into meeting the recruiter, but also because I felt compelled to be there for those that needed me. I served nine years in Marine Corps Intelligence billets that influenced far more than campouts, but were firmly rooted in the moral character, decisiveness and leadership I learned in Scouting. I continue to serve today in the National Guard and still apply the lessons I learned as a Boy Scout almost daily.

On an endless basis, our young people are bombarded with decisions that they have never learned to make. We have told them what to do and how to do it since infancy, and then we cut them loose at adulthood while questioning their poor decisions. Personally, I believe we gave them little moral fiber with which to stand on, and we provided them with little aim for their life goals. Even sports are firmly rooted in the decision-making skills of adults, not players. We need to teach our young people to act, to plan, to communicate, to lead, to have compassion, and to serve selflessly so that when they reach those moments in life when the world needs leaders and heroes they have at least a little ground to stand on.

That, my friends, is why we need Boy Scouts.


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