Twenty years from now it is quite likely that one of those 11 year old Tenderfoot Scouts in your troop will still be playing an important part in your life. He may be your minister, doctor, lawyer, police officer, plumber, or letter carrier. He may even be your grandson’s Cubmaster or Scoutmaster. If he is an Eagle Scout, that will be nice. But if he is a man who lives his life by the Scout Oath and Scout Law, that will be wonderful. The Guide to Advancement, Topic 18.104.22.168, reminds us that “advancement is simply a means to an end, not an end in itself.”
To be sure, some part of the Scouting experience that each of those young men enjoyed played a part in making him the man he grew up to be. Maybe it was proudly wearing his Scout uniform. Perhaps it was being accepted into a patrol, learning from his patrol leader how to cook, then actually cooking for his patrol on numerous weekend campouts. And finally—as a patrol leader himself—teaching his new Scouts the same skill. Maybe it was learning to live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law by working with leaders such as you, who provided examples of how to live by those vital precepts. Most likely, it was all of the above—and more!
It was his total Scouting experience in a unit with a vibrant, exciting program that helped the boy develop into the man. Advancement was just one of the ways he kept score along his journey—and one of the tools you and the other adults involved in the program used to help that boy grow. Twenty years from now each of those young men hopefully will be making the world a better place, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you had a hand in making it happen. Isn’t that what we’re all about?