In the midst of March Madness-when all the world seems obsessed with college basketball-I had the chance to speak to a world-class athlete in a less-familiar sport: shotgun shooting. The athlete is Jon Michael McGrath, and he and the other members of USA Team Gold just tied a world record in men's skeet in Concepcion, Chile. The feat was impressive, but it was just one more accomplishment for the young Olympic hopeful, who began winning gold just four months after he first picked up a gun.
What, you might ask, does McGrath's story have to do with your troop? Just this: He first picked up a gun at Boy Scout camp. He was 11 years old, and the camp (Camp Tom Hale in Oklahoma) offered a free day of activities on Friday. McGrath tried shotgun and was quickly hitting more targets than he was missing.
In an interview with Sirius Satellite Radio last year, he said, "Without Boy Scouts giving me the opportunity to try something new, I might not be here today. I tell almost everyone I talk to: keep an open mind, be willing to try something new, and go and out just enjoy yourself."
So here's the question for your troop: Are you encouraging your Scouts to try new things, or are you consciously or unconsciously deciding what they are capable of? Your Scouts may not turn the things they try in Scouting into successful careers or lifelong hobbies, but they just might. You'll never know until they try.
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