Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Honor and A Privilege

I love going to Boy Scout Courts of Honor where the Eagle Rank is being awarded. I especially enjoy those where the recipient is a young man I've known since he was a Cub Scout. Last night I attended one of those.

The recipient is kind of a quiet young man, intense and intellectual. I met him as a Wolf Cub at Day Camp and after he had graduated to Boy Scouts, he became my Den Chief for DS#2's den. So I was honored that he asked me to say a few words at his Court of Honor.

Next to writing a letter of recommendation, writing a speech about someone is the most awkward thing I've ever had to do. In our Boy Scout troop, speeches about the new Eagle usually include some ribbing, recalling all the dumb things the young man did on his way up the Eagle trail. Since this was not my troop, I had to be a bit more careful. I wrote my speech and e-mailed it to Hubs, who e-mailed back his comments. I called DS#2 at home for some memories, which I then proceeded to write down incorrectly. I blame that on DS#2's lack of enunciation; he blames me for being old and not being able to hear.

One thing I did get right: this particular Eagle candidate did not like hiking as a Cub Scout. That has not changed.

His Scoutmaster was the last to speak. "As I thought about what I was going to say," he began, "I wondered if what I knew was right. Listening to the other speakers, I think I have it nailed."

The Court of Honor was held in the lodge at the Scout Camp where we held Day Camp and where portraits of previous Eagle Scouts hang along the walls, including one of DS#1. ("I thought you just had two kids," one of the dads said to me last night.) We spend a lot of time showing the Cub Scouts and the new Boy Scouts these portraits, pointing out members of our troop or boys they know from Day Camp or Resident Camp, trying to inspire them to hang in there, do their best, and follow the trail. I know several of these young men and I am reassured about the future. They are not perfect. They may take their time getting to their goal or take several detours. But, ultimately, they come through. They are men of their word, men of action, leaders as well as followers.

Lord knows, we need them.