Scouting and Students

I walked into the halls of the Parker Middle School a day before classes resumed this Sunday. While I could have spent time preparing for the first day of 2011 or grading a set of tests I had forgotten on my desk a week before my intentions were strictly personal. Two of my students from my first year of teaching, Jared Beaulieu and Nicholas Staffier had completed their Eagle Scout rank requirements and had invited me to their Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

Over the course of 90 minutes, short speeches and ceremonial charges extolled the virtues of scouting onto the audience, preaching to the choir so to speak with many fellow scouting families and friends in attendance. I couldn’t help but listen to these speeches tuned with the ear of a public educator, and thinking about how many of these principles and foundations of academia were right in line with the types of characteristics and habits we aim to impress into our students each day.

  • The leadership roles and account of responsibility bestowed on the shoulder’s of young scouts.
  • The stars of “truth” and “knowledge” alongside the fleur-de-lis (truly aimed at the heart of science teachers!)
  • The characteristic of ‘trustworthiness’ in our never-ending battle against plagiarism.
In addition, to become an Eagle Scout one must complete a series of merit badges that include citizenship to our community, nation, and world, as well as environmental science, personal management, and family life. Anyone paying attention to current events knows that we could all use lessons in maintaining financial stability (see housing crisis, bank failures), understanding how our nation governs and operates, the positive impact on our local economy and environment by shopping and eating locally, or the need to think and understand our place globally (see economy, environment, politics.) 

With so many digital distractions at the fingertips of our children and teenagers, connecting with nature and the world around you has become a smaller and smaller piece of the average youth’s life. But scout troops like 728 in Reading aim to bring their members out among nature and away from the distractions of teenage life so they may become more comfortable with the natural world. All the while these scouts will practice and hone their leadership skills in a “boy-run troop”, simultaneously making them better individuals and collaborators.

With so much to be gleaned from scouts, I ponder what it would be like if every student climbed through such an organization? Yes, scouting is still rooted in a ‘hierarchical structure’ comparable to long standing Fortune 500 companies or militaries. But with all the educational reform around having ‘student-oriented’ classrooms and preparing them to be ‘global citizens’ while creating curriculum that is relevant to the world around them, what’s not to like?

I was delighted to be a guest to the court of honor and was reminded of my desire to give back to an organization that gave me so many opportunities. The scoutmaster will be sending in a merit badge counselor application with his son (and my current student) to school tomorrow. I hope to try my hand as an Environmental Science or Geology merit badge counselor to get my feet wet and see how it goes!

Eagle Scout rank badge image courtesy of U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. Websites

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About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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