By Liz Merrell
Dec 05, 2013

Scouting Heroes

HeroToday’s pop culture is filled with countless “stars” and “superstars”. Children often put celebrities on pedestals to idolize and mimic. However, most celebrities and sports figures are not heroes. Most celebrities are just well known for being famous. A true hero exhibits behaviors worthy of imitation.

Many Scouts have gone on to be national heroes, including home-run champions, moon-walkers, and U.S. presidents. Some Scouts have saved lives, but most Scouts simply improve the quality of life for those around them by providing quiet service.

Scouting and heroism go hand-in-hand. Scouts have always looked up to role models they consider heroes, inside and outside our movement. Scouts have been heroes, too—some on a grand stage, some in quiet ways. That’s no accident. Having heroes is an important step on the road to becoming one.

Eleven of the 12 men who walked on the moon were Scouts. Since the space program began, more than half of all American astronauts have Scouting backgrounds. Every Scout promises to be brave and these Scouts—these heroes—show us what bravery really is. Scouts also promise to do their duty “to God and country.” So it’s no surprise that more than 35 percent of West Point cadets and 30 percent of Air Force Academy cadets are former Scouts.

Parents have a responsibility to point out what actions merit honor and which people deserve to be admired.  Parents also need to teach boys how to be a hero. Everybody loves a hero who fights for the right against all odds, but a hero is also someone who personifies great ideals, who is ethical, and tries to serve other people. A hero is someone who has to make tough decisions for the safety and well-being of his team. A hero is loyal, hard-working, and persistent.

As Cub Scouts promise “to help other people,” Boy Scouts add “at all times” and Venturing Scouts pledge “to help others.” Whatever their level of Scouting, devotion to the welfare of others is embodied in the Scout oath or promise. The commitment is reinforced by the Scout slogan to “Do a Good Turn Daily”.

Heroes come packaged differently and sometimes unexpectedly. Some heroes include inventors, firemen, businessmen, scientists, doctors, conservationists, teachers, parents, and even young Scouts who provide millions of service hours each year to complete Eagle Projects, collect humanitarian supplies, and stock local food banks through “Scouting for Food”. Since 2004, when the Boy Scouts of America launched the “Good Turn for America”—a national call to service engaging Scouts in tackling hunger, homelessness, and poor health across our nation, Scouts have logged more than five and a half million hours of community service as part of that effort.

Many heroes are hidden among us quietly living lives of selfless dedication by providing community service to others in their community. Most heroes never think they deserve to be recognized because they are humbly serving in their communities.

The Boy Scouts of America organization is committed to giving young Americans the tools and experiences, and the knowledge and faith to make the world a better place. Every Scout has the chance to be a hero to the people around him.

Check out these ideas for Cub Scouts to learn how to be heroic in their own communities at http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/CubScouts/Activities/Adults/service.aspx.

Author: Liz Merrell | Sr. Development Director, Utah National Parks Council

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