Read The Label

Chuck May Scoutmaster's Minute

David Rosen Eagle Ceremony

5 April 1992

Mrs Phillips and I agreed that she would talk primarily about David, and I would talk about the rank of Eagle. But I can't pass by an opportunity to tell a story about David.

The Bucktails were hiking on the Big Blue Trail in West Virginia on a cold, wet November. As we made camp for the night near the top of the ridge the skies cleared, it got bitter cold, and a very strong wind blew up - perfect Bucktails weather! The menu of gourmet freeze-dried beef stroganoff had everyone looking forward to supper (NOT!). In fact, it was so cold that one cook team decided to defer their cleanup until morning, so they could get into their sleeping bags more quickly, so they set a bag of half-eaten food by the stove, and retired.

In the morning as the bag was picked up for proper disposal, a wet, cold, and well-sour-creamed mouse jumped out of the bag and ran into the woods. Careful examination found that three of his friends had fallen into the food and either froze to death or drowned (Some would say that it was the taste of the stroganoff that killed them).

Just as a proper burial was being arranged, our hero, the future Eagle Scout and eminent Biologist, emerged from his tent. Aghast at the potential waste of good research subjects, he cried, "Wait, I need those for my science project!". So the mice were packed away for travelling, inside two trash bags suspended on the end of a stick, hobo style. As the boys hiked along that morning, past puzzled tourists, dogs, and little children who had taken the easy way up to Big Schloss, they sang their new ditty:

Three dead mice,

Cold as ice,

They dozed off in the Stroganoff

Three dead mice.

Somehow David got the mouse-cicles home and into school without his mother or sister finding out what was in the bag. I don't know the end of this story, but I have it on good authority that the mice stayed in his locker at school for at least two weeks. Sometime later, they mysteriously disappeared.

By the way, there will be a reception after the ceremony, featuring our special recipe beef? stroganoff.
*****

Smart shoppers read labels when then go to the store. Product labels on food tell what the ingredients are -- how many calories or fat or vitamins -- how to cook the food. Cars are labeled as to how much they cost, how many MPG they get, and what options are included. You can look for a Made in the USA label, or you can look for a particular brand name on the label, or you can buy the product because the label has a picture of your favorite sports star.

However you do it, you trust the label as a short of shorthand to tell you something about the quality of the product inside. But there are good labels, and labels that don't give you enough information, and labels that are misleading. We have laws to help make sure that labels on products accurately, completely, and fairly describe the product. But the true test of a label is whether, over the years, the product on the inside lives up to the expectations associated with the label.

This afternoon, David chose to accept a label which he will wear for the rest of his life. Whether he wears his Scout uniform with the red, white, and blue square knot, or the Eagle Scout lapel pin on a business suit, or just the awareness in his heart that he is an Eagle, he will be judged by the expectations associated with the label of Eagle Scout. At the same time, just as you might mistrust the Nike label if you bought a pair of shoes which fell apart after only one gym class, everyone will judge the value of the Eagle label by the strength of David's, and all other Eagle's, character.

Now, for you younger Scouts, what about your labels? Your uniform is a label which says, "The enclosed package lives up to the Scout oath and law - he is prepared". Do you comply with the Truth in Packaging Law?

David Rosen, Jimmy Newman, Dave May - they have earned the right to the label of Troop 93 Eagle Scouts, and have set a standard for all of you. The next choice is yours. Will you go through life as a generic brand, wishing you had made Eagle? Or will you start now to make yourself into the kind of quality product which deserves the very best Made in the USA label - EAGLE SCOUT?


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Chuck May, 1992

ChuckMay@may-engineering.com

May be distributed freely, with attribution, for non-commercial use within the Scouting community.