Author: Austin Miller
Since I was eight, I have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America. April 5, 2017 marks my eighth year of Scouting, and on January 19, 2017, I finished off the requirements for the highest rank of Scouting, Eagle Scout. Over the past eight years, Scouting has taught me many skills and introduced me to many opportunities that I would never have had if it weren’t for Scouts. My artifact is a blue neckerchief, lined by a red, white, and blue ribbon with my name, the year I became an Eagle Scout, my troop number, and an eagle embroidered into it. I chose this to be my artifact because it represents my achievement of making it to the pinnacle of Scouting, along with all my memories and everything that has led up to getting the rank of Eagle. Most importantly, it represents that I am a part of something bigger than myself.
Scouting began in 1907 with Sir Robert Baden Powell and the very first “Scout camp” on Brownsea Island in England. One of the main reasons for doing this was because during his time in the military he noticed that men were coming into the armed forces untrained and unprepared. In the words of Sir Baden Powell, “There are thousands of boys being wasted daily to our country through being left to become characterless, and, therefore, useless wasters, a misery to themselves and an eyesore and a danger to the nation. They could be saved if only the right surroundings or environment were given to them at the receptive time of their lives”. He started Scouting to help prepare young men for the adventures that life will throw at them. Over the next three years, he worked with the Scouting program and helped to develop it. One might wonder, “If Scouting started in England, then how did it get to the US?”
According to legend, a man by the name of W.D. Boyce was lost on a foggy street in London when an unknown Scout came to his aid, guiding him back to his destination. The boy then refused Boyce's tip, explaining that he was merely doing his duty as a Boy Scout. The Scout then led Boyce to Scout headquarters and General Robert Baden-Powell, who was the head of the Boy Scout Association at that time. In this legend there are some holes; it is true that an unknown Scout helped him and refused a tip. But this Scout only helped him cross a street to a hotel, did not take him to the Scout headquarters, and Boyce never met Baden-Powell. Upon Boyce's request, the unknown Scout did give him the address of the Scout headquarters, where Boyce went on his own and picked up information about the group. After his safari (which was his main reason to be in England) and talking with Sir Baden Powell, Boyce returned to America, and, four months later on February 8, 1910, Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America. Over the next 100 years, Boy Scouts grew rapidly, spreading across America, England and spanning to several other countries around the world.
Today there are anywhere from 28-40 million Scouts worldwide (margin due to inaccurate census records). Percentage wise, only about 3-5% of all Scouts make it to the rank of Eagle Scout. As of January 19, 2017, I became a part of that 3-5%. One of the other things that the neckerchief represents to me personally, that no one else will be able to see, is the inspiration and desire it gave me to become an Eagle Scout. In my family, my dad and all of his brothers are Eagle Scouts. When I was younger, my dad got a box from my grandma, and in this box was a display case of some of my dad’s Scout stuff. It was an impressive display that consisted of his medals, Order of the Arrow and Merit Badge sashes, his uniform, an old swiss army knife, a picture of him, his brothers (uncles) and parents (grandma and grandpa), and to top it all off hanging down from the top of the case is a blue neckerchief, lined by a red white and blue ribbon with his name, the year he became an Eagle Scout, his troop number, and an eagle embroidered into it. I have admired this display countless times over the past eight years, and during my Eagle Court of Honor, my dad presented me my own neckerchief.
Along with advancement, another main focus of Scouting is personal development. In my own personal experience the best way i’ve been able to learn is by doing. In my time with Scouting I have held several leadership roles, planned countless activities varying in difficulty. I’ve worked on ways to better myself to be of service to others, always trying to follow the Scout Slogan to do a good turn daily. One of the main things i have strived to do that Scouting has helped with is making me a better leader. The past few years I have gone to two leadership training camps, the first being Twin Arrows, and the second being Aquatic School. At both of these camps I was the only one in attendance from my troop and I wasn’t the only one like this. We were split up into groups and more often than not, no one knew each other. Over the course of the next week we had to work together to function as a unified group. Even though none of us knew each other, we all shared the same bond of being Scouts. It was amazing to see how by the end of the week we were working together like a well-oiled machine. Even though our time with each other was short, and some of the guys there I may never see ever again; the lessons we learned together, taught together, experienced together, helped me grow into what I am today. Thanks to these different experiences I have been able to take what i have learned and apply it to all the different aspects of my daily life outside of Scouting. In the words of Sir Baden Powell, “The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country”
I chose my neckerchief to be my artifact because it is a representation of my accomplishment of Eagle Scout which binds me into a group of the elite. It is a part of my uniform which represents my affiliation with a group much bigger and older than myself. It represents a family bond between me and my dad and uncles. It has a hidden meaning of all the trials and hard work that has lead to my development and improvement during my time in Scouting. In Scouts there are lots of awards to be earned, so much so that one could not earn all of them before his time in Scouts comes to a close. In the past eight years of my Scouting career, I have worked my way up from the bottom of the totem pole. I have gone on countless adventures where i have learned, seen, and been a part of many unique and different experiences that have all contributed to get me to where I am today. As I look back, sure the medals and badges are flashy. It is always nice to be recognized for things you have done there is no doubt about that, but in the end I have learned (along with many other things) that in the end it’s not about the award or the presentation. The most important things are the friends and people you meet, the journey and the lessons you learn along the way, and the way you use what you have learned for the benefit of others.
As a child you would watch while they all play
Awake at night and scheme
Of things that you would change,
But it was just a dream
Here we are
Don’t turn away now
We built this town from dust
You have to rise
above the best
and prove yourself
I’ve gone to take my throne above
But don’t weep for me
This will be a labor of my love
Here we are
Don’t turn away now
We are the warriors
That built this town from dust
Where I'm From
I am from the outback
Wide open endless space to Backpack
I am full of nature’s Thrills
I adventure over and through the Hills
I continue on into the night
I am full from the day’s delight
I sit and watch the Fire
Till it is time to retire
I lie down
But never with a frown
I see the stars up above
Glimmering like the eyes of a dove
I am from a cold morning
I am slow going
I am from colorful skies
I am from climbing so high
I am a stranger
I wander and gander
I am from here
I am from there
I will never forget
All the struggles I’ve hit
That have kept me marching on
To the beat of my own Drum
For it won’t be long until i’m gone
"Broken down to build back up"
"Gravity, its' always holding you down"
Overcoming the trialsThat seek to destroy"
Infects all who dare enterInto the forest"
"When you’re surrounded
And there is no end in sightDon’t fret, redirect"
Poem Author: Austin Miller
Blackout Poem taken from: "warriors" by Imagine Dragons
Inspiration From: Nature, To kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee, Scouting events, Tennis, and post weight room events