Almost an Eagle

A friend from Wood Badge sent my wife and I an email today asking for our prayers on behalf of her son, who's rapidly running out of time to earn his Eagle Scout award. This is a topic that hits close to home since I was 'almost an Eagle'. Here's my response (I've left out our friend's name and her son's, since that's not really the point).

At the time, it didn't seem like not earning my Eagle was going to cost me very much. My car, my job, and girls seemed so much more important at the time. Now, over 20 years later, I have to laugh at the thought of the Dodge Omni I drove. I don't even list my job from the time on a resume. I can't think of the last time I thought of one of the girls I went to school with. On the other hand, there are several times a month that I wish I'd put in the effort needed to earn my Eagle Scout award.

Scouting taught me many things: how to hike and camp in good weather or bad, how to work with others and how to lead them, how to cook in a dutch oven, the list goes on and on. I have lots of great memories: backpacking through Philmont, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, camping with Scouts from all over Europe, singing camp songs with 20,000 scouts at a national jamboree — but the memory that comes to mind most often is that I didn't earn my Eagle.

I feel like I owe a huge debt to the Scout leaders how helped me along — and I feel like I let them all down by quitting when the end was in sight. I could have been an Eagle Scout, but I'm not and I only have myself to blame. I wish I could help scouts today learn from my mistake. I try to encourage my son, and the scouts in my troop to keep on going, to earn their merit badges, to plan and carry out an eagle project, and to earn their Eagle.

The eagle isn't just another rank or award — it's a symbol of what you can be, it's a starting point for a life of service, it's a mark of brotherhood with the many others who have 'stuck to it' and become better for it.

Praying for [your son] is the least I can do. If you think it will help, please let him know how important I think earning his eagle will be.

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