Remarks at the Court of Honor of Boy Scouts of America Troop 8
February 4, 2008 at 7:15 PM
Evangelical Covenant Church of Hinsdale, Illinois
This past summer, forty thousand Boy and Girl Scouts and Scouters gathered together in England, the birthplace of Scouting, to celebrate its one-hundredth anniversary. They arrived by plane, ship, train, and—in the case of Girl Scout Arianna Corradi from Torino, Italy—on horseback. One of Troop 8’s very own, Life Scout Eric Andrews, was there, too, as part of the contingent from the Boy Scouts of America. These boys and girls, women and men, were all part of something special, the twenty-first World Scout Jamboree.
The Jamboree, hosted by a different country every fourth year, is “an educational event to promote peace and understanding among young people all over the world” (WOSM). It’s like the Olympics, except that at its opening ceremony, rather than a parade of the world’s greatest athletes, it is an assembly of the world’s greatest youth.
The World Scouting Movement includes Scouts from 216 nations, from Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, New Zealand, Pakistan, Iceland, Honduras, Korea, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan, among many others. And these Scouts are united in the same spirit, voiced in the Scout Promise: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country; to help other people at all times; and to obey the Scout Law.” (That’s the original… a bit different, isn’t it?)
It was all started by a retired British army General, named Robert Baden-Powell. He was concerned about the pressing problems of the day, including unemployment and economic difficulties. So in the summer of 1907, he brought together about 20 youngsters from different social backgrounds on Brownsea Island in England. They built refuges, learned the skills of life in the outdoors, and shared their experiences.
With impressive enthusiasm, Scouting was born, and now Scouts and former Scouts are leaders in virtually every corner of society. One of them, Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, aboard the International Space Station, even linked up from orbit to have an interactive chat with Scouts at the World Jamboree. He said that Scouting helped him to learn the abilities he needed to be prepared in life, not only here on Earth, but even in space.
So, when we look at today’s challenges in the world, from tough economic times, to deadly wars of ideology, it’s exciting to think that so many young people could come together in same place in the same spirit, embodied in the motto of the centennial Jamboree, “One World. One Promise.”
That promise is the Scout Promise, the promise that they will seek peace, and help other people at all times. It is also a promise of the future. After all, Scouts, you are our future. You will lead your communities, your professions, and even your nation. Together with the 28 million Scouts from around the globe, you will lead our world to the promise of peace.
Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden-Powell, longed for that peace as the first World War dragged into its third year, and he wrote this in 1917: “The roots of Scouting have grown among young people of all civilised countries and are developing more each day. It might be thought that if in years to come, a considerable proportion of the future citizens of each nation forms part of this brotherhood, they will be joined by a bond of personal friendship and mutual understanding such as has never existed before, which will help to find a solution to terrible international conflicts.”
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Can you think of better qualifications for the future leaders of our world, who will guide us from conflict to peace? I can’t. The best part is that they’re sitting right here, our future leaders, our Scouts. Let us celebrate them and the things they have done—and the things they will do—in the Spirit of Scouting.Daniel M. Reck earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1999 as a member of Troop 8, Hinsdale, Illinois, and was recognized this year for 20 years of service in the Boy Scouts of America.