I recently had the honor of talking with Alvin Townley, who is the author of two Scouting related books and is actively taking a role in spreading the word about Scouting. You can check out his website at http://www.alvintownley.com/ ... What follows are some questions I asked him, and his answers are in caps....
Why did you decided to write "Spirit of Adventure" and "Legacy of Honor"? Where can people find them?
I HAD SOME REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT IT MEANT TO BE AN EAGLE SCOUT ONCE YOU NO LONGER WORE THE UNIFORM ON A REGULAR BASIS - THAT IS, ONCE YOU BECAME AN ADULT. I ALSO WONDERED HOW SCOUTING HAS INFLUENCED AMERICA DURING THE PAST 100 YEARS. I THOUGHT WE HAD AN IMPORTANT STORY THAT NEEDED TO BE SHARED WITH THE PUBLIC.
Tell us about some of the amazing people you have meet.
TOO MANY TO LIST! I'VE REALLY ENJOYED THE FRIENDSHIPS I MADE WHILE WRIRTING SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE (ABOUT EAGLES OF MY OWN GENERATION). I STILL KEEP UP WITH THOSE GUYS AND SEE THEM FAIRLY OFTEN. I WATCHED THE AREANA SHOW AT THE JAMOBREE WITH SCOTT STRAUSS, THE NYPD SEPTEMBER 11 HERO FROM LEGACY OF HONOR - JUST AN AMAZING AMERICAN. POW GEORGE COKER WHO SPENT NEARLY 7 YEARS IN A CELL IN VIETNAM. JIM LOVELL WHO COMMANDED APOLLO 13. NYC MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES, STEVE BECHTEL WHO JUST GAVE SCOUTING $50 MILLION, NAVAL AVIATORS, PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS IN AFRICA, THE LIST GOES ON.
What does it mean to you to be an Eagle?
BEING AN EAGLE SCOUT MEANS I HAVE TO DO IT A LITTLE BETTER THAN THE NEXT GUY. PEOPLE EXPECT US TO UPHOLD CERTAIN STANDARDS AND LIVE OUT THE VALUES OF OUR RANK - NOT JUST EVERY NOW AND THEN, BUT ALWAYS. IT MEANS I NEED TO SET MY SIGHTS HIGH AND SERVE OTHER PEOPLE - MAKE MY MARK IN MY OWN WAY. WE SHOULD ALL FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO MAKE OUR COMMUNITY A BETTER PLACE AND PASS ON THE SPIRT OF SCOUTING TO OTHERS.
What do you do now? Are you a full time writer?
I'M WRITING AND SPEAKING FOR SCOUTING, HELPING LOCAL COUNCILS ENERGIZE THEIR EAGLES AND ALUMNI AND RAISE FUNDS. I'VE GIVEN KEYNOTE SPEECHES AT EVENTS IN NEARLY 70 COUNCILS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IN BETWEEN EVENTS, I TRY TO GET IN SOME GOOD HIKES, CLIMBS, DIVES, AND WHATEVER ADVENTURES I CAN RECRUIT FRIENDS TO JOIN ME ON...
WRITING MY SECOND BOOK (SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE) I SPENT A WEEK ABOARD THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS NIMITZ, WHICH HAS LED TO MY THRID BOOK, "FLY NAVY," WHICH ST. MARTIN'S PRESS (NEW YORK) WILL RELEASE IN 2011, DURING THE CENTENNIAL OF NAVAL AVIATION. I'VE VISITED FIVE CARRIERS IN THREE OCEANS, INCLUDING THE ARABIAN SEA OFF PAKISTAN. LIKE SCOUTING, NAVAL AVIATION IS ALL ABOUT ADVENTURE WITH PURPOSE.
What was your favorite part about being a Scout?
THE HIGH ADVENTURE, WITHOUT QUESTION. I SAILED AT SEA BASE, PADDLED AT NORTHERN TIER, AND HIKED AT PHILMONT. LOVED IT AND STILL LOVE DOING THOSE TYPES OF THINGS. I JUST FINISHED CLIMBING MT BAKER IN THE NORTHERN CASCADES ON SATURDAY.
What was the most memorable thing you did as a Scout? Any great adventures?
HIGH ADVENTURE TRIPS (SEE BELOW)
Did you ever have any embarrassing moment as a Scout?
TO THIS DAY, I CAN'T EAT SILVER TURTLES (OR HOBO DINNERS AS SOME PEOPLE CALL THEM - STEAK, CARROTS, POTATOES COOKED IN FIRE IN ALUMINIUM FOIL). MY FIRST YEAR AT SUMMER CAMP (CAMP RAINY MOUNTAIN, GA), THEY HEREDED US FIRST-YEAR CAMPERS ON A OVERNIGHT TRIP IN THE POURING RAIN AND WE HAD TO EAT SILVER TURTLES. NONE OF US SLEPT AND I'M AMAZED I CAME BACK TO SCOUTS AFTER THAT EXPERIENCE! I DID OUR COURSE, BUT I STILL LAUGH AT THAT MEMORY.
What do you think Scouting can do better?
WE NEED TO IMPROVE OUR PUBLIC IMAGE, TELL OUR STORY MORE EFFECTIVELY, AND DELIVER A RELEVANT PROGRAM IN A PRACTICAL WAY. WE HAVE BEEN LOSING MEMBERSHP AND TO START GROWING AGAIN, WE NEED TO REFOUCS OURSELVES ON ATTRACTING TODAY'S YOUTH AND (EQUALLY IMPORTANT) RECRUTING QUALITY LEADERS FOR OUR TROOPS, PARTICULARLY YOUNGER ALUMNI. WE'LL GROW UNIT BY UNIT, SO WE NEED TO EMPOWER LOCAL UNITS AND LEADERS AND HELP THEM DELIVER A PROGRAM THAT WILL ATTRACT MORE YOUTH SO THEY (THE YOUTH) CAN EXPERIENCE SCOUTING.
Why do you think young men join Scouting? How can units do a better job at recruiting new Scouts?
SCOUTS JOIN FOR THE ADVENTURE - IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT UNITS HAVE GOOD CAMPING AND OUTDOOR ADVENTURE PROGRAMS. THAT ATTRACTS YOUTH AND ADULTS; THEN THE VALUES AND LIFE LESSONS NATRUALLY FOLLOW.
Your "Eagle Reserves" program sound interesting. I was wondering how successful its been, and how it has actually helped Scouting to date.
WE HAD A GREAT CAMPING WEEKEND WITH TROOP 100 IN ATLANTA - TAKING URBAN YOUTH TO OUR LOCAL SUMMER CAMP. WE'RE HOPING TO TAKE THEM CAMPING NEAR THE GEORGIA COAST THIS FALL. I'D LIKE TO SEE THE PROGRAM SPREAD TO OTHER COUNCILS.
I recently came across a interview you did where you mentioned that you were traveling the world as part of the research for a new book. I was wondering what differences you have found in Scouting in different places around the world.
SCOUTS LIKE THE SAME THINGS, WHETHER HERE, IN CANADA, OR IN AFRICA. MOST PROGRAMS HAVE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN PARTICIPATING TOGETHER, SO THAT IS A MAJOR DIFFERENCE. BUT EVERYONE SHARES THE SAME VALUES, SENSE OF ADVENTURE, AND LOVE OF THE OUTDOORS.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and for being so loyal and supportive to such a wonderful organization. All of us at InsaneScouter snap to attention an salute you!