As promised, here is the full story behind my newfound faith.
I had been involved in the Boy Scouts of America since I was 11. I grew up in the program and was greatly influenced by the pillars of the scouting movement. After I was old enough to realize (about 14 or 15) I’ve enjoyed teaching and helping young people. Along with boy scouts, I would help with vacation Bible school at my church and enjoyed my time with the children.
When I turned 18 in December 2003, I filled out an adult volunteer application to become an assistant scoutmaster within the boy scout troop I grew up in. The following month I was awarded my Eagle Scout rank and became the 137th from my troop.
As an assistant scoutmaster I managed quite a bit of tasks within the troop. I would create and print permission forms for various scout outings, I managed the troop’s website, I was the adult advisor for an Indian ceremony team and kept track of all the rank advancements the scouts achieved.
Above all else, I made it a point to pay attention to the scouts. I listened to what they had to say, sat with them, mentored them. To a few, I’m sure that I was more like the big brother they never had. The person they knew they could come to and talk to.
I took stock in the scouts while a majority of the other adult leadership sat back, drank coffee and generally just talked. That’s not to say that they didn’t pull their own weight and have responsibilities of their own. The scoutmaster and another assistant scoutmaster would always make sure we had a campsite to stay at, had food for the camp outings, made sure that our camping equipment was in top-notch state and so forth. They are great men and I respected them for the work that they did.
The one thing the other adult leaders lacked was the intimacy with the scouts. They were disconnected from the very people the program is designed to serve. They took care of the paperwork they needed to, but they didn’t pay attention to the concerns of the scouts.
Regardless of how the other adults acted, I showed the same love and concern for all the scouts as I always have. At one point during my time as an adult, God showed me that He would do great things with my boy scout troop. I was thrilled about that and couldn’t wait to see what God would do.
Right around 21 or 22, God refreshed my faith and wiped away any dirt that I had in my eyes. Work had been somewhat stressful (mostly I was too caught up in the world) around that time and my heart was filled with subdued anger and frustration. God opened my eyes to this and purified my heart. At the time, it was the greatest thing I had experienced and God helped me to understand things I hadn’t before.
God began showing me how unconditional love really works and I began to put that into practice. The troop began to grow from a steady number of 13 scouts up toward 20 and more. God was answering my prayers and started putting His plan into place; His plan to make our troop great, with me at the helm.
Throughout my time as an adult leader, I would often visit the camp staff at the local summer camp, Seven Ranges Scout Reservation. During my visits I became close with many of the staff members and a few of them have told me what a tremendous impact I had on their lives both within the scouting movement and outside of it.
Many of the times that I would speak with the staff members was during the weekly Pipestone camp honors program. I was an integral part of helping escort scouts back to the remote area of camp, Camp Calumet. Camp Calumet is the outpost or primitive camping area of Seven Ranges and many staff members did not know their way back there. I readily volunteered to escort the returning scouts to their campsite.
During the downtime between returning scouts I would join the staff members at the trading post and chat with them. The camp honors program that Seven Ranges manages is one of a kind and has an impact on all who experience it. During my time within the scouting movement I was committed to helping keep the spirit of the Pipestone program alive and well.
Fast forward to March of 2009. One of the assistant scoutmasters was able to get his 11-year-old nephew to join the troop. I was ecstatic when new scouts would arrive, however with this scout I felt something more. God was drawing me to this new addition. I wasn’t sure why, but I knew from the moment that he walked into the meeting room that it was meant to be. Because of this, I did something that I rarely do. I walked up to his mother and immediately introduced myself and told her that if there was anything she needed that she could let me know.
I typically tend to be a bit of a shy person and don’t typically go out of my way to introduce myself to people. Within the scouting movement I’m not quite as shy as in a public arena, but this was the first time that I took the initiative to introduce myself before the scoutmaster could make his rounds with the parent.
This new scout (we’ll call him David) wasn’t able to make it to many of the next monthly camp outings and so I didn’t get a good chance to talk with him much until summer camp came around in July. Immediately upon getting there I saw the phenomenal leadership capabilities of this young man and I knew that he was going to be a perfect addition to the troop. David had such a huge impact on every aspect of his patrol and not a single leader within the troop missed seeing the effects of David’s scout spirit. When the time came for the scoutmaster to ask the assistant scoutmasters and senior patrol leader which scout should receive the yearly Scout Spirit Award, every single person said that David should be the one to receive the honor. At the end of the week, he was awarded the Scout Spirit Award for his fantastic attitude during his first week at camp.
Throughout the rest of the summer, David and I would occasionally talk online and connect a little more each time. I continued to feel God’s hand in the mix, pushing us a little bit closer.
To be continued . . .
- God and Boy Scouts (t4eagle137.wordpress.com)