I'll also write about my Eagle court of honor, but for now, as promised, here is the original text of my response speech:
Before I say anything, I want to thank every one of you for coming this afternoon. So I’ll go alphabetical by row… They say it takes a village to raise someone, and I’m really thankful for mine.
To my parents, thank you. For everything. I don’t say too much in the way of thank yous but I appreciate your support more than you could ever know.
To those who helped with the Eagle project, or those who helped keep me sane during the Eagle project, I could never have made it this far without you. Same to all the scout leaders and scouts and teachers and library people and of course my friends.
Okay, so now that I’ve thanked everyone, I want to talk a bit about what I’ve learned. First, to new scouts: keep with it. The way I see it, there are three types or reasons to be in scouts. The first is the to advance and get on with my life. The second is the scout who wants to learn something. They don’t necessarily care about advancing, but they’ve committed themselves to doing something worthwhile and learning something. The third is the scout who starts because they want to get something out of it and along the way advances. If you’re expecting me to say that the way I approached it was right, well, I’d be lying to you. I vividly remember Mr. Jones’s comment of “in the next month if you don’t get first class I’ll have to kick your ass” and Jake’s of “Come on man, I need to get out of this position, advance already”. You need to do whatever is best for you. But to do that you have to find who you are somewhere along the way, and scouts is a great mechanism for that. It’s circular but true
Something I’ve learned along the way is that no matter what you choose to do, people will be there to help. You just have to find them. People are very quick to point out that there is something wrong with what you’re doing. If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you what’s wrong. However, you are going to need to seek help in order to get help. So don’t be afraid to ask.
So why bother with it - the scouts, the projects, the service, the meetings? I got an email once out of the blue from a newer scout. It’s dated October 31, 2012. It said in part:
“Alex, you are such a role model to me for scouting. And Everything else. You NEVER and I mean NEVER give up . I hope I have the willpower and determination to do anything I'm allowed to do. It's amazing,”
He had no idea at the time but I was going through a rough patch at that point where I considered stopping my involvement with anything. I was in the 10th grade, sick and tired of school, scouts, and people in general.
I Printed it out, wrote “Why you Keep Trying Anyway” at the top, and it’s been hanging up in my room ever since. That’s why you keep trying, because sometimes you do make a difference. Yes, you have to learn how to finish things, but if you never start a project it’ll never be completed. While the shiny awards and things are great, what matters is the work you do and whether or not it makes a difference. I hope that what I’ve done has made a difference, and I again thank you for being a part of this insane and crazy ride. Thank you for coming, I’ll shut up now.