Sleeping under the dark night sky, with the last of the smoke from a campfire drifting through the air and the memory of hot cherry cobbler: Camping outdoors will always be one of my favorite activities. My love for the outdoors was fostered by my time in Boy Scouts, but scouting also helped me to realize more than that. My will to explore, to creatively solve problems, and my talent for leadership, have all come from scouting. Through my years of scouting, I have matured and learned more about myself than I have at any other time and I am now proud to call myself an Eagle Scout.
When I first became a Boy Scout I remember all the challenges of first learning how to pitch a tent and cook breakfast for my patrol. I had grown up camping with my family and setting up a tent but in scouts we also learned how to work as a team. One of the older scouts, Andrew, was in charge of teaching my patrol everything that we needed to know. I remember his guidance and patience with us while teaching us to tie a bowline knot. I look back now and I know that I learned so much more from that time then just the knots and first aid skills. While those are important skills that I often use, Andrew also helped to show me what it meant to be a scout and live by the scout oath and law. Later in my scouting career I would remember how Andrew taught me and attempt to impart that same kind of character onto the new scouts I would mentor.
Once I was old enough to join high adventure trips, I realized my true eagerness for exploration. Scouts always spend a week at summer camp each year learning merit badges, such as leather working or forestry, but high adventure is a totally different experience. One of my first treks was to Philmont Scout Ranch where for a week a group of scouts, adults and I hiked through the back woods of the New Mexico Rockies. We averaged about eight miles a day over the elevation and 40 pound packs. I vividly remember our hike to the top of Mt. Phillips, which sits 11,711 feet above sea level. While on our hike, dark rain clouds moved in and the weather looked like it was going to get bad, fast. We had some trouble but eventually made it to the top where we had just enough time to quickly set up our tents before the heavy rain began to fall. It was not until the next morning when we looked out from the summit. I could see out for miles across acres of green woodland, seemingly untouched by humans. During my time on that trip and seeing that view, I realized that there were places I could go that so few others had ever seen. I realized I had an ambition to visit these places. Most of the world has already been explored, but I have realized that outer space is the next place humans will visit in my lifetime. I now have a will to go out and be an explorer, to visit places no one has seen, and it all originates back to my time adventuring in scouts.
I know that after my time in scouts, I am a different person because of the experiences that helped to define me. I have learned more than just my knots. Scouts has given me powerful role models and the chance to experience challenging journeys. The world is changing and I have learned the life lessons that will lead me to succeed in my fast approaching future.