Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dedicated to my son Dan, the Eagle Scout.

    This week's blog is simply the speech I delivered as Scoutmaster at my son's Eagle Court of Honor on Sunday.  It was an intimate affair with close family and friends, and I only wish I had taped my son's own remarks, because they were incredible. 

     Humble.  No, not me, but this Scout and these proceedings.  Humble.  As Scoutmaster of Troop 68 in Hall, I've had the privilege of attending 4 Eagle Courts of Honor for members of this Troop. 

Each one was different in its own right, but this one, by far is the most humble.  Dan hand selected each of you to be here today, to take part in this simple ceremony, because each and every one of you contributed in some way to either his project, or to his development as a Scout and a citizen. As his Scoutmaster, and as his father, I thank you for that.  It's my task now, to take what you have heard about the Eagle Rank and apply it this humble Scout, Dan Yarger.  

      If I started too far back in Dan's Scouting career, I am not sure I could get through a talk like this, but I do remember Dan and his friends as they joined the Tiger Cubs so many years ago.  Those times while precious, paled in comparison to watching their growth and development as they advanced through the ranks, first in Cub Scouting and then in Boy Scouts.  Today, I will watch this Scout be awarded the highest rank in Scouting, the Eagle Rank, but what did Dan do, in particular, to earn this rank? Well, that's a story in itself....

     In order to be eligible for the rank, Dan had to earn 21 or more Merit Badges, 11 of which are specific to learning about things like our Community, Personal Finances, and Physical Fitness.  Dan earned some of these in Troop with our own parents taking on the role of Merit Badge Counselor, and some while away at camp each year. 
Mom pinning the Eagle

While earning these, he advanced through the ranks of Boy Scout, Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, 1st Class, Star Scout, and Life Scout.  Only then after 6 years worth of community service, weekly Troop meetings, campouts, merit badge sessions, and yes fundraising, was Dan eligible to develop his Eagle Scout project to attain this rank.  His hard work brought him to that point, but I suspect that he never had a clue to the hard work that still awaited him in planning, documenting, leading and accomplishing this huge undertaking. 

     Dan's project was to expand a set of existing trails at the Town of Seneca Park in Flint. He noticed, on a visit to the park, that the existing trail was small, and didn't advance very far into the beautiful woods , and set his goal on making it a more pleasant experience for all those who walked there.  
From the planning stage to the final completion of the trail, it was a 2 year endeavor, and put all of Dan's skills to the test.  Dan appeared in front of the Town Board to gain approval for his plan.  He walked the trails, and plotted out the 2 new loops, he measured them and tried to keep the environmental impact to a minimum.  Several months after the start of the project, he planned clearing days, and organized large groups to remove the debris, and small wood.  He named Scouts to lead each group, and he learned how to delegate tasks, like the chainsaw work and how to give leadership opportunities to others.  When the trails were mapped and cleared, Dan set his sights on the next part of the project, fundraising to place 2 granite benches on each loop.  The fundraiser he planned was one of the most unique and successful fundraisers that I have seen in the history of the Troop.  

     As many of you will remember it was an Italian dinner at Biaggi's in Victor, and once again, I watched Dan shine.  He approached the restaurant and negotiated the meal and costs.  He contacted a local band, Meyer and MacGuire, and solicited a donation of their time to provide entertainment for his guests.  He worked with a family friend to print the tickets, and he filled the room to capacity that night, and he exceeded his fundraising goal by so much, he was able to purchase a permanent sign for a map to be placed at the front of the trail.  There were 2 moments that evening, where it became evident to me that my duties as   Scoutmaster for this Scout were quickly coming to a close.  He was heckled slightly during his presentation, and I was astounded when he, unflustered, retorted the remark, and continued on with his talk.  This skill he had certainly picked up doing the many presentations to the Troop and at summer camps, and he learned it well. 
I also watched him power through his dinner, and then stand up and walk around to each and every table at the fundraiser to insure each of his guests were having a good time.  No one had asked him to do it, it was quickly becoming instinct for Dan to do the right thing, unprompted.  The mark of an Eagle Scout.  He showed this same temerity several months later as the town started to do the rest of the work on the trail.  Dan had no obligation to help with this work, he had more than the requisite number of hours to earn the badge and rank, but for those 2 days, Dan worked side by side with the Town to lay down the fabric, rake the stone, and even to drive the Skidsteer to help complete the project....his project.  Dan did an excellent job negotiating the purchase of the sign and benches too, and one of his last duties was to mark the spot on each trail for their placement on the trail.  They are there now, and conveniently placed, so you don't have to walk for more than a quarter of a mile before you have a place to sit.  The project in total had over 250 man hours invested in it. 
     "A truly remarkable project, and one of the most significant projects I have seen in my Scouting career".  Oh, those aren't my words, those were our Council's Advancement Chair for Eagles.  He was so impressed with the scope of Dan's project, that he nominated it for the Eagle Scout project of the year.  Dan, this winter, attended that dinner and while he lost to another project in the Rochester area, he gained another benefit, a mentor assigned to him who is a full partner in one of the most recognized law firms in Rochester.  I suspect this may be of great benefit to Dan as he pursues his interest in law and politics in college over the next 7 years, but the Scoutmaster in me, wonders if Dan's mentor, might learn from Dan too?  Time will tell.  

      If Dan continues in law, the path is unrestricted to the top of that field, in fact several of our current Supreme Court Justices were Boy Scouts, and Stephen Breyer, is an Eagle.  

     If Dan choose politics, there are too many Scouts and Eagles to name, but if he aspires to the highest office, he'll join the ranks of Scouts, John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barak Obama, and Gerald Ford who was an Eagle. 

     If Dan chooses a career in business, he'll be following the paths of Scouts like, Sam Walton, Steve Fossett, Richard Branson, Ross Perot, Steven Spielberg and even Bill Gates.  Bill Gates, father was an Eagle and his son, the Microsoft founder, was a Life Scout. 

     If Dan chooses to sit on the couch and watch TV, two of his favorite TV personalities will remind him of his Scout and Eagle obligations, Bear Grylls and Mike Rowe.  It's tough to escape your destiny as an Eagle Scout.  Mike Rowe, an Eagle himself, was once asked to write to a potential Eagle to help inspire him, and this is what he said (read Mike's comment's the link is here) http://meritbadge.org/wiki/images/3/30/Mike_Rowe-Dirty_Jobs_Eagle_Letter.pdf

     Lastly if you doubt that the sky is literally the limit for this Eagle, ponder for a moment that 11 of the 12 sets of footprints on the moon were made by Scouts, including the first set made by Neil Armstrong who was an Eagle.

     In closing, I admit that I do not know the path that lays in front of this new Eagle.  Remember, it's not the  Award that makes an Eagle, it's all the experiences, and hard work attached to it, and what the Scout learns from them, that makes an Eagle.  As his Scoutmaster, I can tell you Dan has done the work, and he has learned from it.  

The Eagle has landed.


Daphne Mays said...

Wow! He sounds like an incredible young man! I'm sure he will succeed at whatever he decides to do! Fantastic post! Thanks for letting us come along for that story!

Anonymous said...

So much to be proud of in one young man, an amazing family and dear, dear friends. Bill you made me weep. Love you all.

Anonymous said...

I worked a few time with Dan, and I can't agree more, he is a great kid. Great job Mom and Dad!

torcon said...

Bill, that was an fantastic post and speech! You both have truly raised a fine young man who has a bright future ahead of him. Thanks for sharing with your "extended family" south of the Mason-Dixon line!

Anonymous said...

He's grew up so quickly and in ways now surpasses those who taught him. May he never forget these lessons