Reflections of an Eagle Scout

"Hey, James, are we there yet?" I had heard this question at least a dozen times in the last hour. I am in charge of five young Boy Scouts headed on a camping trip. Remembering my own eagerness, I respond patiently, "Almost there, in an hour we'll be pitching tents." As enthusiastic roars fill the truck, I smile and think of how lucky I am. There is nowhere else I would rather be. I am also eager to reach the camp, but for me, it is bittersweet. You see, this is my last camping trip as a Boy Scout. Just last week I handed in my application for the rank of Eagle. I had spent much of my junior year satisfying the rigorous requirements for the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn. In addition to completing the required badges, I also dedicated many hours researching, planning, and completing my service project. I was able to give back to my community by restoring an outdoor sanctuary at our church. From beginning to end, I was responsible for the project's planning, design, and supervision.

Troop 71 meets weekly and I have experienced many adventures with them since joining in second grade. In the spring, we always start off the meetings with baseball, a game just for fun. No pressure, just a lot of good natured fun with friends. It is not all fun and games, though. Throughout the years, I have been able to improve upon my leadership and organization skills, as well as learning about personal responsibility. I have been an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, and Instructor, demanding positions which oversee Scouts both younger and older. In addition to watching over them, I also manage and organize the troop's equipment, in order to ensure that the trips run safely and smoothly. I am now at a point where I am teaching younger Scouts new skills, which is gratifying because it is my chance to give back to Scouting.

Being a Boy Scout has been a privilege for me. I have had opportunities and experiences that I could not have gotten elsewhere. While moving up through the ranks and earning various badges, I have gained an incredible sense of accomplishment and set of skills which most kids my age do not have, like emergency preparedness and personal management. I have also learned many valuable lessons, among them, that to earn respect you must give it and to always be prepared for the unexpected. Being faithful to and living by the Scout Oath and Law has given me the maturity and self confidence to live my life with ethics and morality. Through scouting I have been lucky to see true leadership in action. True leaders are those who combine compassion and empathy with intelligence and great communication skills. I know the kind of person I want to be, and although I do not know where I may end up, I do know how I want to get there.

- James Otruba, 2015