The Boy Scouts of America has been a national tradition for many children in the United States, and dates back to 1910 when it was founded by Robert Baden-Powell. It is the largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with approximately 2.3 million youth participants. The Boy Scouts organization has also expanded to a number of countries outside of the United States such as Japan, Mexico, South Korea and several countries in Europe. When they join, the scouts are trained in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities and educational programs.
Scouting follows a rank system where scouts earn badges through fulfilling requirements that involve many different skills. There are a total of seven ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. The Eagle Scout is the highest rank that a scout can earn, with only 4 percent of members ever achieving this great title. Becoming an Eagle Scout demands a lot of time and commitment, with the process taking the average scout four years to gain the rank.
Scouts must earn merit badges in order to advance to the next level. A merit badge is an award earned by completing requirements on a certain subject. Some examples of merit badges include Cooking, Personal Fitness, First Aid, and Personal Management. Earning your first merit badge is always a memorable experience which opens a young scout up to a wide world of merit badge opportunities to explore. Each merit badge is unique in focus, covering a wide range of academic disciplines and community concerns, from Nuclear Science to Disability Awareness. Scouts first need to research background information about their topic and then perform certain tasks meant to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve gained. Once a scout has met all of their task requirements, it’s time to meet with their merit badge counselor – a qualified expert in the field, craft, or career the scout has chosen to study – and discuss what they have learned and receive certification (hopefully) for their badge.
I earned my first merit badge when I went to summer camp in the Lassen National Forest, a wooded, mountainous region in Northern California, where I completed a course for the Climbing merit badge. As a 5th grader and brand new scout, the experience was very intimidating, with the rock climbing wall towering over me for what seemed like a hundred feet into the clear sky. It was my first time rock climbing, so it took me a couple of tries to scale the wall, but after persevering through the hardships, I was able to obtain my first badge. By experiencing the challenging yet rewarding process, I was motivated to continue on earn more badges. Today, I am still in scouting, working towards the rank of Eagle. I have completed most of my journey, but I still must plan and prepare for my Eagle Project, which is a service activity centered on helping the community and leaving a lasting impact.
10th West Ranch High School