GSGTomorrow, Feb. 8, the Boy Scouts of America will celebrate its 103rd anniversary. Many millions of boys have gone through that wonderful program under the watchful eye of volunteer Scoutmasters and Scout leaders.
Those men and women who have given up countless hours at troop meetings, camping trips, long committee meetings, numerous fundraisers, Courts of Honor, counseling sessions, and many miles in a car with boys singing, giggling, or asking, "Are we there yet?" Those hours have paid off for many boys.
Those boys have grown up to be leaders in our communities. They have developed a sense of "can do" as they had to learn to be self-sufficient.
Those lessons taught at Scout meetings were well designed concepts that men had figured boys would need later in life.
I was thinking about my days in Troop 139 down in North Hollywood this past week and thoughts turned to my Scoutmaster, Richard Francis Campbell.
He was a great man and held a place of honor in the hearts of his scouts.
We loved him and we respected him. When he died in 1982 he had completed his 55th year as a Scoutmaster. The national council had awarded him the rank of "Scoutmaster Emeritus" when it became obvious that his health was failing. Only a few days later he was gone.
He taught his scouts the Scout Oath word by word and what it meant. What it "really meant" so that we did not just recite it as a bunch of words but as a lifetime oath. He taught us the 12 points of the Scout Law and that each was important, not sometimes, but every moment of our lives.
Mr. Campbell wanted each boy to work toward earning the rank of Eagle Scout as he knew what an impact that would have on a boy when he became a man. A man who has earned that rank as a boy will never state that he, "was an Eagle Scout" because "once an Eagle always an Eagle." Those involved in Scouting know what that rank represents.
I was thinking about some of the guys with whom I went through Troop 139 and I chuckled for a moment remembering when Louie Ricord, Colin Dawson, Ken Botton, and I were serving as senior patrol leaders and assistant senior patrol leaders at the same time. (It was a large troop so there were three assistants). Our folks probably figured that none of us could walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone ever amount to much in the way of mature adults.
It has worked out that the four of us each earned his God and Country Award, his Eagle Badge, and each earned a doctorate in his chosen field of study. Louie is a professor, Ken served in the Navy and is a Chaplain, Colin is doing quite well in business and I have been teaching since 1980. Our one common bond was being a part of Troop 139. Mr. Campbell saw us in a different manner than our folks did and his placing us in leadership roles within that troop changed our lives.
This week five boys from two local troops were presented with a check to help defray some of their expenses to attend the National Jamboree. The ladies from Christ Church-Anglican wanted to give that $1,500 ($300 to each) to show their support of the ideals of Scouting. These ladies know that those boys will experience a life-changing event and those boys will grow into fine young men and then older men who will always be giving to their communities and to others. The $1,500 is simply an investment in the betterment of our nation.
Mr. Campbell taught each boy who became an Eagle a very serious lesson and he repeated it often. Once you wear that Eagle Badge you are a "marked man," from that day forward you owe a lifetime of service to others. A lifetime.
I received my badge in June of 1966 and have made it a point to live up to Mr. Campbell's words. It is the only way I can pay back all of those Scout leaders who helped me along the "Trail of the Eagle."
So as we celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the chartering of the Boy Scouts of America by Congress and we recall our happy days with fellow Scouts and Scouters, we need to remind ourselves to live up to the words of the Scout Oath and Scout Law and to remember how important it means to live with that phrase, "On my Honor."
Happy Birthday Scouts and Scouters and thank you Mr. Campbell.