The Gifted Underachiever

My life so far

My son is an Eagle Scout

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Honestly, that’s a phrase I never imagined myself saying. Until Graham.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have seven wonderful and successful children: four boys among them. There was a Life Scout, a Scout and a Tiger Cub.
And my son is an Eagle Scout.
Graham is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. There are no ulterior motives, no shortcuts, no straying off the trail. So, why would I be surprised that he’s an Eagle Scout?
After all, when he was a Cub Scout he told his Mom and me that he was going to be an Eagle Scout. His Life Scout brother told him “don’t stop.” It’s cute when that little 6 year old with an orange shirt says he’s going to be an Eagle Scout. I was proud of him then. But now? Wow!
He is what we call a cardiac Eagle. He submitted his application and final project two weeks before his 18th birthday. That always gives scoutmasters a mild heartburn. So you can imagine what it does to his parents.
So today we celebrate this all too rare accomplishment. And the Eagle stands alone. But he did not reach the summit alone.
There were so many along the trail who guided him either by leading or allowing him to lead.
Shannon recited the litany of activities Graham has participated in. And I’ve been oh so fortunate to tag along on more than a few of them. I did it for fun. And if he’s honest with you Graham will tell you he did it for fun as well.
As our founder, Lord Baden-Powell said “Scouting is fun with a purpose.”
I cannot imagine another club or organization where a boy could do half of the activities Troop 10 has done, or visit the places where we’ve camped, or tighten the knots of brotherhood that bind us together not just as a unit, but as a family.
The photos scattered on your tables together make up a chronicle of one scout’s journey. It is a long journey, and some times the trail becomes tough and steep – especially that last part. But making it to the summit makes the entire journey so much worth the trip.
And not only was I happy, but I was honored that he didn’t mind his old man joining him on the trail. And on that trail I met others accompanying their sons on that same journey. Devoted people who wore the uniform and helped shape these children’s character, and doing it all by giving just an hour a week!
And these men and women will be my friends for life.
Ms. Kim Burt was his den leader in Ocala, Florida. I’ve never met someone with more patience in dealing with second-grade boys. After we moved back home, Webelos Leader Ed Zeek helped Graham transition from Pack 10 to Troop 10. Barry Rozas was waiting on the other side of the bridge. I assumed he was the Scoutmaster but spending the last seven years with him I’m still not convinced there’s not an assistant patrol leader’s patch under the Scoutmaster badge.
But he taught me that to have fun with the boys you have to be a boy too. And at my age, that was as much of a challenge as the activities, although my wife could argue otherwise. But we did have some fun!
It’s dangerous to name names because I know I will forget some, but there are Raymond, Phil, Linda, Ann, Golden, Charlie, Mack, Peter, Brett, David, two Pauls, Greg, Blane, Geoff and Steven who will live in our hearts and inspire me forever. And so many others who inspired the boys to do their best and be their best.
And then there was Shannon Landry who took the baton from Barry and guided my son toward that finish line. You couldn’t ask for a better cheerleader as well as guide. And his cheering is far from done because I see so many scouts on the approach path, and I am happy to say that it will likely not be another two years until the next celebration like this.
It’s been a true honor working with these men and women. They’ve made something easy that is extremely difficult for me to do: they’ve made me comfortable enough so that I can take a step back while they share the responsibility for making my boy into the man he is.
But truly there is only one person who knows how hard that last uphill climb to Eagle is, who put in the real blood, sweat, and tears on the trail: his mother.
I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but would all Eagle Mothers please stand and be recognized.
There should be a visible mark, a tattoo or warning sign on all Eagle Moms to warn the world to stay out of their way because they get things done.
Thank you, Mom.
The look of relief on this man’s face is real. The burden that has been lifted from his shoulders is immense. The phrases “you have to do this,” or “you need to get busy” aren’t heard as often by this man. And by this man I mean, of course, me.
And now my son is an Eagle Scout. I would like to think that in some small way I might have inspired him to achieve that goal, but in fact, it is just the opposite.
Because of his commitment to Scouting I attended Wood Badge training. For those of you unfamiliar, this is sort of a premier training course for Scout leaders. Heck, it’s a premier course for living a successful life.
One of the requirements for actually completing the course is to set a goal with five steps to achieve it. And the goal has to be something that will making Scouting better. The participant has 18 months to achieve that goal. If they make it in that time they are award the Wood Badge beads and neckerchief.
Around month 10 I had fiddled about barely making progress. I asked myself “why do I need to prove anything to myself? I’m a busy man, and I don’t need beads to be a good leader.”
And then I wondered if Life Scout Graham was asking himself the same thing. “Why do I need to be Eagle? I don’t need to prove anything to myself.”
That was a wake up call.
I never asked Graham if he ever wondered if he should go on. He just did. If it weren’t for him I would not have my beads today.
Eagles are like that. They inspire others to be their best.
When you see an Eagle Scout you just know. You know he’s the cream of the crop. You know he’s a true leader. You know that he is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly and more.
And one other bonus about my son being an Eagle Scout: once an Eagle forever an Eagle. He will continue with Scouting regardless of what he does. But Graham has said he wanted to continue to be a part of Troop 10 in the future, and that’s wonderful news to me. Because that’s what I want to do too!
I want to sincerely thank each of you for being here today to celebrate with us. My family is truly honored to have so many friends with us. And Scouts of Troop 10, I really want to be part of your celebration at your Eagle ceremony.
Now please allow me one more time: my son is an Eagle Scout.


– Parent’s Reflection, speech at son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor, Sept. 30, 2017


Categories: What was I thinking?

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