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Letter to the Editor: What Every Boy Needs for Christmas in 2012

Give the gift of Scouting this season.

Dear Editor:

It won’t fit under your Christmas tree, and you can’t use Amazon’s Same Day shipping service for it. No camping out on Black Friday could have helped you get this gift, and it’s not on the iTunes App Store. But over 100 million boys have received this gift already.

2012 is a tough time to raise boys into strong young men. We do our best to be good parents and provide them with a good home, good friends and good morals. We sign them up for all the sports we can and we go to all their games – some of us even coach. We see them enjoying their sports and we feel like that’s enough.

But is it?

Even if he’s one of the gifted ones who continues to play sports in high school, possibly college, possibly beyond, have we really prepared him to accept life’s challenges such as divorce, pressure to experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex at a young age? These lessons are not learned on the athletic field (nor should they be). But your son will absolutely face these challenges if he hasn’t already. All will face some; some will face all of them. 

The best gift for every boy this Christmas is the gift of high self esteem, self worth, leadership skills, and reinforced moral values. If we could order it with Amazon’s one-click, same-day delivery, we all would. But we can’t.

Until we can, there’s still another way. It’s a gift that’s been given far more than Xboxes, iPod Touches, and motor scooters, combined. It’s a gift that has helped millions of boys cope with life’s challenges, by having the self esteem and self worth to appreciate what they have, the moral strength to know right from wrong, and the leadership strength to stand up for it. It’s the gift of scouting.

As boys, 181 NASA astronauts all received this gift from their parents. Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Sam Walton, J. W. Marriott, JFK, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Hank Aaron, Michael Bloomberg and even Dirty Jobs’ TV show host Mike Rowe, also all received the gift of scouting as boys.

Conversely, the list of infamous adult men who never received this gift from their parents is just as long. These are the boys who were unprepared to face life’s challenges as teens, young adults, and as grown men, because they never developed those character strengths as boys. Some even became professional athletes, college coaches and business leaders — only to fall from grace when faced with life’s greatest challenges. Worse still, some ultimately committed the most heinous acts as adults, and will go down in history as the darkest men our country has ever produced.

Why scouting? I know of no other program or organization that has produced more adult men as leaders in our country. Leaders in business, leaders in politics, leaders in sports, leaders in their community, and most importantly, leaders in family. Over the past 10 years I’ve been involved in scouting, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact scouting has had in developing very young boys into confident young men.

If the thought of scouting conjures up merely images of boys on a hike through the woods, building campfires, and whittling wood, then it may surprise you to learn just how much more there is to scouting, and just how well it can mentally and morally prepare boys for the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.

So this Christmas, when shopping for gifts for your son, remember that the greatest gift you can give him won’t be found under the tree. To find a scouting unit near you, visit BeAscout.org.

Steven Toole
Herndon, VA

Troy Patch accepts letters to the editor. Email yours to troypatch@patch.com; editors may be edited for clarity and style.

Dale Murrish December 22, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Hearty agreement from me on this. I've seen improvements in their programs since I was in the Scouts in the 1970s. A Scout leader and two boys visiting the FIRST LEGO League competition http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/first-lego-league-2012-senior-solutions They were asking about engineering notebooks required for the new Robotics merit badge. I'm encouraged both boys to continue working toward their Eagle and asked if they had chosen their Eagle project yet, which requires leadership to organize a project that will involve others. Like FIRST, the Boy Scouts of America is about continuous improvement. They also have guided boys with a moral compass that points north and helped them become men.

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