Courage is sometimes defined as having the mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear and with bravery. In the movies, action heroes coolly face impossible odds and grave danger without any signs of fear. Real life is quite a different story. In daily living, courage can be exhibited in many forms.
Thankfully I have never been tested with a dangerous life and death situation to date. However, I would like to think I have developed courage through my participation in the Boy Scouts of America and in attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
I imagine being a Boy Scout in the 1950’s was a much more popular concept than it is today when life was perhaps a little more relaxed and slower. In today’s world, which is anything but slow and relaxed, I had many external pressures, including academics, sports, girls, extra-curricular activities and indeed peer pressure, which would have made it very easy to never join the Boy Scouts or join and later drop out or stay in but never attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
Yet, even though scouting was not always considered the “cool” thing to do, I learned a great deal about life, friendship, leadership and yes courage through my years in Scouting. I hiked 60+ miles with a 50lb pack for over week at altitude in New Mexico, at the Philmont Scout Reservation, and slept on the trail amongst bears and mountain lions. Although in some respects that took physical courage, I confess sometimes being seen around town in my Boy Scout uniform at age seventeen took some mental courage. But as they say, if hard work and dedication were easy, everyone would do it.
I also honed my courage and perseverance skills in connection with my Eagle Scout Project. An Eagle Scout Project requires a lot of advanced planning before the concept is presented for “approval to proceed” with the proposed project. Most projects involve building something such as benches for a bird sanctuary or creating bookshelves for a children’s library. Now there is nothing wrong with any of those types of projects, as they require a lot of hard work and extensive planning and execution. However, I wanted my project to better reflect my interests and passions. Since I am avid runner and because my sister Kelly is a Leukemia survivor, I spent a ton of time planning a local 5K-charity road race with the race proceeds benefiting Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and a shoe drive to benefit Soles 4 Souls. I made my sales pitch and was shot down not once but twice. Dejected but not defeated I kept tweaking it until I finally obtained permission to proceed. I could have easily thrown in the towel and done a more traditional Eagle Scout Project but I knew my project was supposed to develop leadership skills and I knew my project had great merit and potential.
The Eagle Scout 5K charity road race held at Adelphi University, in Garden City, New York was a success in all respects. This project forced me to travel out of my comfort zone in many