“I’d be talking to a girl about what she would want in a future spouse and she’d say, ‘He has to be a returned missionary and he has to be, you know, an Eagle Scout.’” said Rodriguez. “I had three different girls say the same thing to me.”
Born and raised in Spanish Fork Utah, Ethan was used to the unspoken, standardized expectations of a male LDS youth; he would start in Primary and advance through all of the Priesthood offices, prepare to serve a mission and undoubtedly, earn his Eagle Scout.
Or so they expected.
While he did strive to fulfill his calling in each Priesthood office and did serve a two-year mission in the Lubbock Texas Mission, Ethan still fell short of being “marriage material” in the eyes of some college-aged LDS women.
So, when Ethan went through all of the Boy Scout ranks but didn’t get the Eagle Scout Award, many of his priesthood leaders also expressed a tinge of disappointment…
I learned so much from the Boy Scouts, even without receiving my Eagle Scout
“I may not have completed my Eagle Scout,” Ethan said, “but just by going to the different Scouts camping activities with my friends, I learned things that helped me throughout my life.”
At the awkward age of 14, Ethan was a pretty shy and timid kid who had a hard time reaching out to make new friends.
“It was because of the friends who I made at Scouts that I was able to to feel more included and become more outgoing.”
Not only did he develop vital social skills as a young boy, Ethan also learned incredibly important life-skills. Just from going to some of- not all- the Scouting activities, Ethan learned how to properly and safely handle weapons like guns, knives and bow and arrows. He learned how to make a shelter and survive in the outdoors alone for a couple of days, which is incredibly useful in the case of an emergency situation, people get lost for days on hiking trails all the time. He learned First Aid skills such as how to properly bandage, treat and wrap a deep laceration. An overview of how to perform CPR on an adult and infant and how to react to heat stroke and what things you can do in order to treat it at least until paramedics arrive were also skills Ethan learned and still remembers today.
“It’s great and reassuring to know that I have the capabilities to help someone in a variety of different emergency situations. I hope I never have to use them, but if I do, I’ll be extremely grateful to have the skills to help,” Ethan said.
Ethan was even taught such a simple, everyday skill as swimming. Without the Boy Scouts he would have never had someone to teach him how to swim and wouldn’t be able to enjoy the refreshing waters of the Payson Lakes.
However far a young boy excels in Boy Scouting, the hope is that whatever exposure they get, young boys can receive all the resources they need in order to become happy, successful and faithful men in theirs careers, communities and families.
You can become a well-rounded person without getting your Eagle Scout… or can you?
So, should an alarm go off in a mother’s head if her boy doesn’t get their Eagle Scout Award? Does that mean her son has gone wayward and no longer holds true to core values such as service and a belief in God? Should a young women see “Unworthy! Don’t date! Run away as fast as you can!” flashing in red blinking lights above the boy she wants to marry who isn’t an Eagle Scout?
Of course not.
In fact, according to the National Eagle Scout Association, only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts. A statistic that represents more than 2 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1912.
As a preteen and teenager, Ethan loved going to Scout camps and events but was also interested in participating in a bunch of other opportunities at his schools; football, wrestling, baseball and even the drama club where he acted and wrote screenplays. Meanwhile he was also taking AP classes, doing volunteer work as a member of the National Honors Society, helping his parents with house projects, serving in his priesthood callings, working on videography projects as a hobby, holding a job AND managing a social life… Insert exhalation of exasperated breath here, right?
With all of these noteworthy activities, anyone would be proud of Ethan for accomplishing what he did. Ethan never did get around to completing all the requirements for the Eagle Scout Award, but he still thrived from what he learned in the Boy Scouts all along the way.
“Specifically, the BSA endeavors to develop American citizens who are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit; have a high degree of self-reliance as evidenced in such qualities as initiative, courage, and resourcefulness; have personal values based on religious concepts; have the desire and skills to help others; understand the principles of the American social, economic, and governmental systems; are knowledgeable about and take pride in their American heritage and understand our nation’s role in the world; have a keen respect for the basic rights of all people; and are prepared to participate in and give leadership to American society.”
Having participated in the Boy Scouts and a variety of other activities, Ethan became the very type of young man that the Scouting program strives to mold. He was physically, mentally and emotionally fit, had a strong belief and relationship with God, was patriotic and a leader, amongst other things.
Ethan became a well-rounded man even though he never became an Eagle Scout. The award is an honorable achievement and represents outstanding service, leadership and life-skills- something one can and will always be proud to have achieved. But, even only completing a portion of the Scouting program, Ethan was able to learn skills and values that prepared him physically and spiritually to serve a mission and stay true to his beliefs and values in order to be sealed in the St. George Utah temple this past April.
No matter what level of involvement a young man participates, any young boy can always benefit from what the Boy Scouts has to offer.
Author: Katelyn Kenedy | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council