Bob’s Blog: Our Wonderful Eagle Scout Heritage, Thoughts From Little Sioux

When we think about this year’s 100th Anniversary of the Eagle Scout Award, we have many things to be grateful for and celebrate. Eagle Scouts have left a huge footprint in serving both their communities and our nation as a whole in the past century, and we now have valuable third-party validation to support those accomplishments.

We can all be very proud of these findings from a study just released by Baylor University, titled Merit Beyond the Badge. I urge all of you to take time to review this research.

Baylor’s Program on Prosocial Behavior received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for this research, which measured the lifelong effects of being in the Scouting program, and, more specifically, of attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

What really brings this report to life are the stories that we all know and share about the service our Eagle Scouts have provided across our nation for the past 100 years. One of those is about 15-year-old Eagle Scout Spencer Zimmerman, who pulled, pushed, and carried a friend with cerebral palsy to help him “feel the wind in his face” and complete a triathlon.  His inspiring accomplishments have earned Spencer the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s American Spirit Award.

We all know that our Eagle Scouts are exceptional people, but having their story told through valuable research like this Baylor report makes our mission even more significant in the eyes of the American people. Their example and leadership goes well beyond the boundaries of our camps and meeting rooms to show how Scouting truly is the fabric of our nation.

Thoughts from Little Sioux

Recently, I traveled to Omaha to visit with the Mid-America Council. When I entered Omaha’s Marriott hotel to check in, I was overwhelmed with an incredible visceral experience. This was the same hotel where I had stayed to meet with the survivors of the 2008 Little Sioux tornado.

I was flooded with memories of all that occurred during that time. I didn’t realize that I was booked in the same hotel for this trip, so I was caught completely off guard. You can’t imagine the feelings I had when I walked in. As I passed through the Marriott lobby, I also saw the Purdue basketball team that was in town for the first round of the NCAA big dance. I couldn’t help but be struck by the juxtaposition of tragedy and hope.

During my council visits, I shared this experience with the staff and volunteers. I reminded them of how well they performed during those difficult days. I reminded them of how they were able to turn a tragic event into a positive story in front of the nation and the world. I reminded them about what “Be Prepared” meant for our Scouts and so many others that tragic day.

This was completely unintentional. So much water has been over the dam since that difficult time. This experience helped me realize how much I was personally impacted by the events at Little Sioux.

While I was in Omaha, the council also arranged for me to meet with Arnell Petrzilka, the mom of one of the Scouts who died at Little Sioux. We had the opportunity to sit down and reminisce about what a great job our Scouts did on that difficult day.

It’s hard to comprehend that nearly four years have already passed since the Little Sioux tornado. I hope that when that June day approaches, we’ll all take a moment and remember how that event impacted all of our lives.


2 Responses to Bob’s Blog: Our Wonderful Eagle Scout Heritage, Thoughts From Little Sioux

  1. Brian Nastase says:

    Thank you for remembering this tragedy…. It truly impacted my life, my family and my career. Your comments help all of us deal with the pain and memory of that night and the weeks that came after it. My passion for Scouting is greater from this impactful tragedy at Little Sioux. Thank you again for your leadership then and now!
    Best regards,
    Brian J. Nastase
    Michigan Crossroads Council

  2. tony says:

    thanks for sharing merit beyond the badge. I know that me and my brothers the award has made a difference in our lives. and it wasn’t so much earning the badge as it was the journey we took with the other boys and especially the scout leaders.

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