Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Running with the wrong crowd
By: Posted On: 2019-12-16

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One of the many questions I ask Eagle Scout candidates during their Board of Review is the following:

"Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting) explained to a group of volunteers in England that Scoutmastership comes down to this:  the management of the instruction in life skills enabling young boys to become adult men of character, with an awareness of their community and their place in it as leaders, and with the physical, mental and moral strength to overcome nearly any task placed before them.  It is a game with a purpose, played by gangs of boys under your guidance and supervision."

I then turn to the Scout and ask him, "Do you feel you belong to a good or bad gang, and if you belong to a bad gang, how will you as an Eagle Scout redirect them toward becoming a good gang?"

This pretty well stumps most candidates until I give examples. 

"If everyone wants to go swimming, for instance, at a location which looks great and you all heard it was a great place to go...but yet, there is signage all around the place saying "caution," "no swimming," "no entry."  What can you do?  What do you do?"

Discussion ensues, which is part of the Eagle Scout Board of Review process.  We are looking to see how much of the ideals of Scouting has "sunken in" and which he actually applies on a daily basis (not just on "Scout night") and what he has just memorized to say to the Board members as "what they want to hear." 

I have another example, thanks to the press.  

"How do you convince someone who you looked up to as a great example of those Scouting ideals and keep them from running with the wrong crowd?"  

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A teenager who helped to save a 5-year-old girl from her abductor nearly three years ago will serve up to 10 years in prison for robbing a city store at gunpoint.

Temar Boggs, 18 (photo above), was ordered to serve 40 months to 10 years in state prison at his sentencing Friday, according to Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman’s office.

Authorities say Boggs pointed a gun at a store clerk in December when he robbed the El Coqui Market in the 600 block of North Plum Street. Boggs and a 16-year-old accomplice who served as the lookout then fled with about $200.

He pleaded guilty to felony counts of robbery and conspiracy in June.

In court, Boggs and his attorney said he was drawn into the "wrong group of friends" after gaining notoriety from assisting police in the July 2013 kidnapping case.

Boggs was 15 when he and a friend spotted a girl who had been abducted from the yard of a Lancaster Township home. The boys chased the kidnapper’s car on bicycles until the man stopped and released the girl.

Congressman Joe Pitts praised Boggs and his friend on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a New York woman was so moved by their heroism that she set up a scholarship fund for them.

The girl’s abductor, convicted sex offender Harold Leroy Herr, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting the girl in August 2013.  He is serving a prison sentence of 50 to 100 years."

The idea, as I explain to the Eagle candidate, is demonstrate how much of Scouting's "3 and 12" (three points of the Scout Oath or Promise; 12 Scout Law points) you actually use in your daily life -- why do you think they are so important and why are they all interconnected.  In the end, all we do is to recommend that you should receive Eagle.  The BSA determines, after reviewing the materials and doing their own checks, that you are deserving of the "title" and rank of Eagle Scout.  

"You," I say, can "smile and have great pieces of paper for us to read and see" (in a less than "PC" world, I would have said, "You know, you can b.s. all of us with this stuff)...tell us HOW you use this in YOUR life TODAY. THIS WEEK. THIS PAST MONTH. AT WORK".

It is that continuation on that trail over the other side of the "Eagle mountain" -- the side that most of us will never see, but he will experience for the rest of his life -- that will matter. We can't gauge that. So we ask questions about what the candidate does now and hope and pray he will continue to do those things.   As the example illustrates, that sometimes does not happen -- and most times it did not happen because some "Eagle" -- someone with positive character -- did not interact with Temar and redirected him away from the "wrong gang" and continued to encourage him to do good for others -- and himself.  

Same in any line of work. Yes, being that person standing up or sitting down in that conference room saying "respectfully sir, ma'am, I can't do this" (or "I can't direct my team to do this") (or "this isn't right") may get you canned.  Reassigned.  Ostracized.  In some quarters, killed.   That is a choice you, like this young man, would make and live with it.  Having a set of "ideals" would help in making that choice clearer, would you not think?

When we ask during the Board of Review "what would you say and do if we told you this evening that you are not ready to become Eagle; that we will ask of you to do some additional items and then come back whereby we will continue the Review?", we are looking for two things.  Maybe three.  We are looking for self-determination.  We are looking for a plan forward from the candidate.  We are looking to see if this is something HE wants or something he is going through a set of motions for the benefit of someone else. 

"Well, I will tell you that I will be disappointed. I will be thinking about what I missed.  I hope that all of you will give me a written plan forward so that I can meet them with no problems or issues.  I will talk to my Scoutmaster and ask for his advice.  Trust me when I say this -- you tell me when and what time and I will be back and will be ready to meet and respond to your questions or concerns then too, just like now.  This is important to me.  I am doing this so that I can use it as a stepping stone toward more schooling or that promotion at work.  I will keep the Scout laws and things in my mind and try my best to keep others from detouring from making Eagle or whatever they want to do."

Let's keep them from detouring and running with the wrong crowd -- for whatever reason. 


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