U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes recognizing Sean Roach and I for earning Eagle Scout + my Eagle Speech
Good afternoon everyone. First of all, I wanted to thank everyone who has helped me along this nearly 12 year journey of Scouting. I can’t even list just how many people that entails, but if you know me and how much I like to branch out and socialize, you can imagine just how many people that includes. Whether you bought popcorn from me, worked on my Eagle Project, got me through the silent OA retreat, went ziplining with me at The Summit, or simply have been sharing troop memories with me along the way, you have most likely helped develop the Eagle I am today. Everything I have learned through Scouting since I was a Tiger Scout was not because of something I read out of a book to get my requirements signed off. The interactions I have had with others through scouting are the real reason I achieved Eagle. I remember at the Jamboree, I was instantly thrust into a position of leadership without too much preparation. None of the boys there knew me, but they listened to me and cooperated when I started laying out the map plans for the campsite we were about to set up. Every tent had to be a certain distance away from the next one, canopies couldn’t be too close to each other, and every patrol bin had a specific order in which the contents had to lie in order to fit. All of the supplies were in these huge, organized boxes that we had to put back exactly as it was in ten days. I assumed the kids would just start taking over and try to do everything their own way before instruction was given, but these boys patiently listened to what had to get done and every single scout willingly helped put together the camp quickly. Based on the skills I adapted from the people of the Jamboree, NYLT, and my own troop, I have learned how to become an effective leader. It definitely helped me handle being Senior Patrol Leader more smoothly.
That’s the cool thing about Scouts; when you meet all these people along the way, you also gain all these great (or most of the time great) experiences. This is the second thing I want to thank Scouting for; all the good times… and the bad times. Scouting is definitely one of those things in life where people say “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. Yeah, the journey prolongs further than achieving the rank of Eagle, for being an Eagle Scout is a lifelong journey that I have just begun. But the Eagle Trail was full of some of the most useful and fun times of my life. Since joining scouts, I have slept on a battleship, rode the longest and fastest zipline in the Western Hemisphere, met the President, climbed Mount Washington and Cadillac Mountain, went Whitewater Rafting multiple times, toured West Point 9 times (and watch Army only win about 3 of those football games), learned to be a lifeguard, go rock climbing, went ocean kayaking, biked around Rhode Island, Cape Cod, and Block Island, canoed and slept on islands between New Hampshire and Vermont, went 24 hours without speaking while doing community service, slept under the stars with people I never met, tried and failed at BMX, and much more that I don’t have time to sum up today. But in addition to these irreplaceable memories, I have also barely survived consecutive nights in wet, below freezing weather while underdressed, seen several scouting equipment burst into flames, had to boil soup with damp pine needles, a torn up can, and minimal matches, almost drowned with Hunter in a riptide, eaten many of Liam Alexander’s shake n’ pour pancakes that were straight batter on the inside yet burnt on the outside, struggled to bike 30 miles as a fifth grader before acknowledging the hole in my tire, gotten matches flicked at my sweatshirt accidentally, burning a hole in it, witnessed certain scouts get sick over some undercooked chicken or corn beef hash, got my boots stuck in mud while building a well in the pouring rain, and many other unpleasant experiences, along with waking up at 5:30am to swim in the lake every day at Scout Camp of course. But even through all the bad experiences, I have learned something that I used to improve myself rather than complain and dwell over it.
This is one of many traits I have learned during my Scouting career. You can’t be lazy and still expect everything to get done. You can’t defy your leaders and make it to Eagle, for you will never learn from other people and see their reasoning. You have to put in effort and push through the miserable times, including KP, in order to get things done and feel like you did something for yourself. But the most important skill I have taken away from Scouts is how to lead. Scouting is about learning how to be self-sufficient now and later in life, but also about working with others and learning how to effectively lead people. It took me a very long time, maybe even until I was serving as Senior Patrol Leader, to finally take my dad’s constant advice to delegate duties to others. I used to always try and do everything myself, along with maybe one or two other people, simply because I didn’t believe the other scouts would cooperate and get it done, let alone do it the right way. But that didn’t make me a good leader. I finally realized that being a leader means to show others what needs to get done, how to properly do it, and divide everyone up to do those tasks. As long as the kids are willing to do it and realize that it is beneficial for them too, then running the troop or whatever group you are leading comes a lot easier.
Thanks to all of the people I have met along the way, everything I have experienced, and all the skills I have picked up along the way, I have finally reached the rank of Eagle. Thank you everyone.
Essay of my worst campout
The Unprepared Eagle
Be prepared. That has been the Boy Scout motto for over a century, and certainly for as long as I had been in Scouts. I recently earned Eagle Scout, which is the final and most prestigious rank in Scouting. I have worked so hard to get here, and I have followed this motto for the past seven years of my Scouting career. However, I still underestimated the horrific conditions of my first campout as an Eagle Scout.
This was my ninth and final campout at West Point, so I thought I was ready for the weather. The only difference this time was that we were staying there in November instead of September, which is significantly colder in the Northeast. While we were driving up the first night to Lake Frederick, the rain was coming down in buckets and we still had to set all of the tents and gear. I was not looking forward to this campout at this point, and I was already really tired from the busy week before. Upon arrival, all twenty or so of us idled our cars for the allotted fifteen minutes as we set up pop-up tents in the rain. Under these canopies, we quickly unloaded our trailer of gear and started an assembly line of laying out tent after tent before moving them around the field and staking them into the loose mud. This was the fastest we had ever setup camp, but we still had to retrieve our personal gear from the vehicles and fill up water jugs in the downpour. Of course, it was also a mere fifteen degrees fahrenheit and my five layers simply could not protect my skinny body. Setting up was the most miserable camping experience I have ever had.
Once we settled in our tents for the night, the rain seep up through an unnoticed hole in the ground tarp, drenching the bottom of our tent, our ground tarps, and our sleeping bags. The dry clothes we had just changed into were already going to become wet and miserable, especially in the bitter cold weather. My father insisted on me packing this blanket of down feathers he gave me last Christmas, so I reluctantly stuffed it in my nearly full backpack. By the first night, I was overjoyed for the warm layer of protection.
After somehow making it through the night, we woke up to a toasty twenty-two degrees, where we had to cook breakfast while our boots were four inches deep in the muddy aftermath of the storm. Everyone was bundled up, but my warmest jacket was still soaked from the rain, so I was in six thin, ineffective layers. I had to remove my gloves when I was cooking or filling water jugs, allowing my hands to numb due to exposure to the elements. The wind had started to pick up too, so we made sure to take down the canopies before driving to the Army Football game, for they might blow away. Little did we know how right we were.
By the time we got back from what appeared to be the only enjoyable moment of the campout, four of our tents were damaged or knocked down. Two unrecognizable piles of what used to be a canopy blew into our area from two campsites over. The blistering wind caused the cleanup of this demolition to be nearly impossible. The sun set around 4:30pm, intensifying the cold gusts and occasional snow flurry. “Are you warm enough, Alex? You look freezing! Here, wear my flannel,” exclaimed my friend, Terry, with strong concern. I gratefully accepted the jacket, allowing me to survive the bitter cold as we set up dinner and cleaned up the campsite, ensuring minimal work for the morning. I am not sure how I survived the next three hours, for they seemed endless and excruciating. It eventually dropped to ten degrees, and Terry wanted his flannel back. I had a matter of minutes to get back into my damp sleeping bag and cozy blanket before I got hypothermia and froze to death.
I, the Eagle Scout, went to sleep over an hour earlier than the rest of the troop due to my lack of preparedness. My warmest layer was drenched all weekend, and my other dry layers were no match for the chaotic weather we faced that weekend in Upstate New York. It was a miserable experience, and now I will never plan poorly for anything again. I will always be prepared.
Eagle Scout ceremonies with Derek Russell and Chris Blaze (and Summer Camp from 5th grade) + high adventure campouts and the Appalacian Trail