I missed John Wilson Huffman’s Eagle ceremony yesterday afternoon. I had a previous commitment. I would really like to have been there. John Wilson is one of my favorite kids.
The Eagle award is Boy Scout’s highest award. It comes only after years of dedication and commitment and requires the recipient to have demonstrated leadership and the many tenets of the Boy Scout Oath and the Boy Scout Law. Trustworthy Loyal Helpful. Friendly Courteous Kind. Obedient Cheerful Thrifty. Brave Clean Reverent.
John Wilson’s father is an Eagle Scout. So is an uncle and a cousin. It’s not unusual to see multiple generations of Eagles. I am an Eagle Scout, too. It is something that no one can ever take away from you.
I was a green 13-year old kid when the Scoutmaster decided that he was going to make me a Patrol Leader. Boy Scout troops are broken down into smaller groups called patrols. Mine was the Owl Patrol and was populated partly with kids that might be kindly considered misfits.
I was never the smartest, most athletic, natural leader that some were. I was sort of from the wrong side of the tracks. I certainly didn’t have any experience at all in being any kind of a leader. That Scoutmaster was taking a big chance on me.
My Patrol didn’t have a lot of experience in Scouting. I guess they were sort of like an expansion team. What I do recall is that the Owl Patrol pulled together, formed a strong team and won a major competition at the next Jamboree — a big meeting of several Boy Scout Troops.
Most of the leadership skills that I might have as adult came from the foundation in leadership that I received in Boy Scouts. Everything from building a team to working outside my comfort zone to doing things that I had no idea I could do — all contributed to helping me be the man that I am today.
And any success that I’ve had as an adult is in due to no small part my time as a Boy Scout. So when John Wilson began telling me that he was nearing completion of his Eagle quest, I began encouraging him to finish it up.
Let me tell you a little about John. He came out for the football team at Maryville High last year as a kicker. Most of his sports background had been soccer. Playing behind a couple of kickers that had been doing it for quite a while, John Wilson was not going to get many opportunities. So he asked for some time at defensive back.
I spend a lot of time with our kickers at practice. They can’t kick the whole time so they get to finish early most days. One of my jobs is to run the kickers through conditioning drills, go over any announcements that might be later shared with the whole team and send them on their way.
If you were to meet John Wilson, you would immediately like him. With a smile as big as you will find, he will come up and start talking to you at the first opportunity. He got the chance to play cornerback in a couple of JV games. Being on the field, I captured his play on video and sent it to his parents in the stands.
John Wilson will not likely make his living playing professional sports. He isn’t likely to go to college on an athletic scholarship. But he will go to college and he will be successful. I know that just as sure as I know my own name.
He is following in the path of thousands of men that have gotten the Eagle award and then became famous. Men like Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Our own Lamar Alexander. Director Steven Spielberg. J Willard Marriott, CEO of the Marriott Corporation. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart.
Congratulations, John Wilson. Now go change the world.