Life 4 Life
Several years ago I took a Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster specific training course that my district was holding, it was required for SMs and ASMs. Even though I had been an adult leader for seventeen years and my years being an assistant scoutmaster or scoutmaster were behind me, I thought it might recharge my battery for scouting.
During one of the sessions when we were discussing the methods of scouting a lively debate started when the subject of advancement came up. There were many leaders who really believed that it was their job to make sure that their scouts become Eagle Scouts. One leader, who like me was a long time scouters and was only taking the course because he wanted to remain “trained” said that he would hate for any of his scouts to be “Life for Life”.
I took exception to that line. Particularly because I ended my scouting career as a Life Scout. I also too offense since at the time I wasn't fond of this guy, but we took Wood badge together and found out we had a lot more in common than we differed on things. That phrase “Life for Life” really stuck with me.
Becoming a Life Scout was not easy, I wasn't the most motivated scout but with some encouragement from one of our leaders I made a push in the last couple of years I earned the rank of Life. If I got motivated a year earlier I wouldn't be writing this post, it would probably be something about how awesome being a Eagle Scout is.
It came down to the wire I was sitting in the kitchen of the mother of my former scoutmaster who was the merit badge counselor for Personal Management. This was in the pre-Youth Protection days. I knew if I didn't get my blue card signed off, instead of earning the Life Rank, I’d end up “Out among the Stars”. Luckily I was prepared and my card was signed. I took my scoutmaster conference and board of review, and a few days later I was handed my Life patch, and my Assistant Scoutmaster patch, I turned 18 before our next meeting. I never got my Life patch sewed on. But it was a great achievement. And a great lesson.
In the subsequent decades when I mention to people that I was a scout or that I am involved in scouting people always ask if I was an Eagle. And that is a regret, but I don't regret my time as a scout. So many great memories with people I'm still friends with today. I'm also proud of the ground work I layed for scouts who were younger than me to become Life Scouts and Eagles.
Our troop has a wooden board with the names of all the Eagle Scouts of our troop. After a very long drought we had four young men earn the rank and only two spots left on the board. So we skipped a space put one name and added a second board with the others. When I look at that board that spot could have been mine. Right between a guy named Rick in 1985 and a guy name Peter in 1997.
Would I have become the scouter I became if I didn't feel like I left something on the table? I don't know. Maybe I wouldn't have the thought that I need to prove something.
I embrace being a Life Scout. I use it as a teaching tool. When I give boards of review for Star and Life I often bring out my Life patch, which was never sewn onto a shirt, to emphasize how easy it is to run out of time. Recently at a Wood badge course I staffed after the ticket process was presented to the participants, I took out that pretty pristine (for a 25 year old patch) piece of cloth to remind my patrol how quick 18 months runs out.
Do I wish I was one of the 5%. Sure. Would that fancy red white a blue knot look great on my uniform? Yes. Am I proud of what I have achieved and the subsequent lives I have influenced with my continued involvement in scouting? Much more than just having a knot and a letter from George HW Bush or Bill Clinton.
Life for Life.