Below is a letter I wrote recently to Caleb, a Webelos who is a new Arrow of Light recipient. His parents asked that I write something to encourage his continued journey in Scouting. We share it here so that other parents might share it with their own Scouts.
Congratulations on achieving Cub Scouting's highest rank, the Arrow of Light award! You've discovered that being a Scout is not only great fun but also full of lessons on how to take care of yourself and how to be an honorable man.
I understand you'll be taking the next step--to become a Boy Scout. That's a great decision! Truly, the rewards and fun times only get better and better.
In the years ahead in Scouting you will make some of the best friends you will ever have. Some of the Scouts you're growing up with today will be part of your life forever. Treat them well. Be willing to learn from them and listen to them. And when you have a chance to lead, remember that the best leader is also a servant, helping those who follow to do their best and have a great time. After all, the most important thing in the world is how you get along with other people. We have too many leaders who forget that.
Take your time on your journey toward Eagle. Becoming an Eagle is not just for getting into a good college. It's not a destination you set in your "life GPS" and then try to take the shortest route. It's the journey that counts! Every knot you tie wrong the first time, every hike where you get blisters, every burned piece of french toast teaches you something about yourself--that you can do great things for the world if you're willing to keep trying. And if can keep trying while keeping a smile on your face, you have solved life's greatest mystery--how to be happy no matter what comes your way.
One last thing: remember to thank those leaders who have helped you in Scouting. You don't know this yet, but you'll forever remember some of them as the greatest men and women you ever met. You might not have a chance to thank them later, so do it now.Just a simple smile and "thank you for being my leader" will be like treasure to them.
The Scout Motto is "Be Prepared" for good reason. It's telling you not just what you should do but what's going to happen if you stay in Scouting. You're going to "Be Prepared" for life, with great, lifelong friends, great lessons on how to stick with it, and great leaders who show you the way!
Congratulations on taking the next step in Scouting!
John Hovanesian, MD
Chairman of the Board, Orange County Council