Doing It The Hard Way

Chuck May Scoutmaster's Minute

Eric Myers' Eagle Ceremony

4 October 1992

One of the privledges of being Scoutmaster is that I get the last chance to tell tales about Eric's career.

Two events stick out in my mind when I think of Eric as a Scout, and they demonstrate two of his particular passions --music and the theater.

Eric's musical talents were displayed in an unusual way on a Troop outing. He and Dane Skully came up directly from playing in the pep band at a football game, and had their instruments in the car. Before they went to bed on Saturday night, they asked if they could play reveille in the morning. I said OK, as long they were sure I was already awake before they started playing. Sure enough, at 6:30 the next morning we were all awakened to a duet of reveille -- played on the saxophone!

For his theatrical passion, let me set the stage. His audience consisted of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people enjoying a warm, sunny afternoon in February, on the deck of the ski lodge at Timberline ski resort. Most stages have a pit just below, where the orchestra sits. The pit in this case was a mud pit, many inches deep, yellow and slimy, which stretched from the railing of the deck to the snow at the edge of the bunny slope.

Enter our hero, stage left, enjoying his first day ever on skis. The stage direction called for him to glide gracefully down the slope, with puffs of snow being thrown up by his skis at every parallel Christie turn, and to come to a stop just in front of the most beautiful snow bunnies, with a technique (and a gleam in his eye) that would make Jean Claude Killy jealous. However, Eric's stunt double wasn't available, so he had to settle for his just learned snow plow turns. His skis came to a stop on the hard-packed snow just at the edge of the pit. Eric, however, slowly and gracefully toppled forward, until he was face-down, full length in the mud pit.

The plays of Shakespeare are often divided into comedies, histories, and tragedies. Now, this may seem like a comedy to you, but the tragedy is that Eric's father had just finished putting away his video camera.

If I showed you a large box full of bricks and asked you to move it across the room, I might get different reactions from different Scouts. Andrew or Sam might think it was fairly light, while Jordan or Chris Webb might describe it as heavy. The difference is not in the box, but in the Scout. You are not judging the box, but your reaction to the box. You are saying "I am not able to lift the box, so it must be heavy," or "I am not big enough to lift the box."

Eric looked this way at the task of making Eagle in the very short time available. He could easily have said that the task was too hard. Instead, he said "I am big enough for this task". He then set about finding a way to accomplish it.

His trick was this -- he didn't try to make Eagle all at once. He approached Eagle the same way that most of us would move the box of bricks -- one brick at a time. And he kept with it, until the job was done (although with not a day to spare).

In his book "Trailing the Eagle", Mr. Bill Young quotes a letter he received from a minister friend just after making Eagle:

Dear Bill,

I read with much pleasure the announcement in the church bulletin last Sunday that you have become an Eagle Scout. Fellow, my hat's off to you. Congratulations.

I was a Scout many years ago, but I didn't get past Star. I was doing fine until I got interested in girls. I stopped being a Boy Scout and became a Girl Scout. I still like girls (I married one), but I wish I had kept trailing the Eagle. Now it's too late. I'll never make it.

I'm glad you had the good sense to stay on the Eagle trail. This letter brings my best wishes to you for continued success in everything you do.

Best regards, Chuck

I could have written this letter, it describes my situation as a boy so accurately. As an adult Scouter, I have met and heard from a lot of former Scouts who made Eagle, and a great many more who didn't. I have never met anyone who made Eagle and regretted it. I have many times met people who almost made Eagle. Every one of them regrets not making Eagle.

You can decide now which category you will fit into. In doing that, don't look at the whole box of bricks and think that it is too heavy for you. Take it one brick at a time, and you will be surprised how easy and how much fun the task was.

Chuck May, 1996

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