Wednesday, December 30, 2015

That Time I Served on an Eagle Board of Review: A Life Update

I last posted here 20 days ago, which at one time would be unacceptable, but nowadays life moves too fast for me to guarantee anything.

I've been thinking a lot about the past recently. Let me make one thing entirely clear: I don't want to relive, I just want to acknowledge. Anyways, I've been looking over the past year's worth of blog posts because this is the time of year where I write the Christmas, and I will make my annual "Let's See How Far We've Come" post later today, but as for now I want to evaluate where I am.

Two weeks ago I served on an Eagle Board of Review. To be entirely fair, I have never once served on a Board, and the last time I was at an Eagle Board was, well, my own almost a year prior. This was the last Board for Troop 831 because we couldn't recharter for 2016 with none members. I was asked because, as usual, this was a down-to-the-wire during-the-week case. They needed manpower that didn't have work on a Tuesday. But the symbolic thing in all this was that it was indeed that last board of review. And so everyone who was asked (and then some) appeared.

The maximum number of adult registered leaders who can appear on a board is six. Mike had six. They were Mr. Y (my mentor, and the man I credit with me becoming a more confident human being than I thought possible), Mr. Ellenberger (the district advancement chair commissioner dude, also an Eagle), me (you know me), my dad (you should know my dad), Mr. Fenton (a family friend of Mike's who knows him outside of scouts), and a personal favorite, Jake Urbanek. If you've followed my life for a long time, you know about Jake. Officially he's the camp director at Seph Mack in Indiana, he's also a junior at Cal U. Personally, he's been one of my best scouting friends and a huge influence on me taking on leadership roles and advancing full on to Eagle. We've been great friends ever since the April 2009 NYC adventure.

We realized a few things in us discovering we were both on the board: we were there for Mike's start in Boy Scouting (which was the NYC trip) and we signed off on his end. We were, progressively with the exception of Jake Seanor between Mike and I, the last three SPLs of Troop 831.

There was a lot of symbolism in that room: three Eagle Scouts, the old guard and the final guard of Troop 831, and we ended the troop with the pinnacle of scouting - seeing our last youth member make Eagle.

It felt hollow, our last Court of Honor. People shared their memories from a bygone era and mourned the lost of that which they left. I'm sorry I don't know the troop 831 of the 90s or 2000s, and that I barely recognize anyone that showed up. Here's my sidebar: yes it was a magical reunion of yore, but it was the mourning of something completely preventable. They mourned their memories of 831, not the 831 that held that court of honor. As the scouts from years past walked up to speak about their memories or advice or whatever, each one of them recounted memories and punctuated their speeches with a near-condemnation of the current administration for ending it. Here's the deal: we had 4 scouts legally and on the books. I saw this coming back when I was SPL: we lost our feeder pack because the cubmaster pulled the jenga blocks and while that's an excuse it isn't a good one. In 2010 and 2012 we needed to look at recruitment, not sustainability. Because without the first one, the second was and proved to be impossible. We reached out nowhere, and this grand network of alumni remained silent and detached until April 26th. That's the reality. It wasn't overnight, people just didn't join. And those of us that were there aged out.

So it's over. Well, the troop is at least. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I do know this much: we will go on. Jake, Mike, and possibly some other 831 alums plan on taking an alumni reunion hike in Settlers' Cabin tomorrow. Who knows where we go from there.

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