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I got an early Christmas present from the father of one of my Eagles. His son is completing college applications and one of the prompts was, "Tell us about something which shaped your character." This was part of his essay:


"If I had to say the one singular way that Scouting has shaped my character, it would be the instillation of empathy into my life. Empathy is not a common trait that would be used to describe a teenage boy, but I feel it is the underlying characteristic that Boy Scouts actively shapes.

"Empathy, in the way that Scouting presents it, is the ability to connect with another person at the emotional level and to feel what he is feeling as well. I have many firsthand experiences with this. My first experience with empathy in Boy Scouts was also my strongest and most memorable. It was my first year as a Boy Scout as I had crossed over into the troop when in February of that year. I was essentially still a Webelo at my fist Summer Camp. I had never been away from home for a whole week and it surely seemed daunting to be able to last that long. The first day and night I was there everything went fine, and I was holding strong. It was the second night, however, that things began to fall apart. I was sad, depressed really, and I wanted to go home. I was on the verge of calling my parents to beg for them to come and rescue me, but then a boy in my troop came to talk to me. He was much older, about four years my senior, and he was nearing his end in Scouting as he was about to become an Eagle. He didn’t try and bribe me to stay or tell me I would not be allowed to go. All he did was talk to me. We talked for over an hour about Scouting, camp, school, and everything else we could think of. Just having someone to talk to was all I needed.

"I believe that the older Scout who had helped me understood my pain, he empathized with me. Scouting forces all boys to go through the same struggles: trying to remember the difference between a simple and compound fracture in first aide merit badge, going camping in the harshest of conditions, even hiking uphill both ways for miles to complete the Second Class hiking requirement. Scouting instills a sense of brotherhood and comradery, and I feel that these traits are the essence of how one will connect with another. Truly, if Scouting has shaped my character in any way, it has shown me the power of connecting with another person and the positive long lasting effects of simply caring enough about another person just to have a simple conversation to pick him up when he is feeling down."



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