Dave leaned back in his chair, looking across the table.
“So, you think you’re ready to be an Eagle?” Dave asked. “Are you prepared?”
Four other men sit around the table, waiting on an answer.
The kid mumbled a “yes sir”, barely loud enough to hear. The kid was scared.
He was in his uniform. His shoes were polished. He had combed his hair. His fingernails were clean.
He had a three ring notebook in his lap. He needed Dave’s OK and signature that night.
He wore his uniform. The troop numbers were on one shoulder, a leadership patch on the other. Across his chest was a green sash, filled with badges. He had earned every one of them.
“Tell me two things.” Dave said.
“First, what was your leadership project? Second, Can you name me ten knots? I’ll choose one I want you to tie.”
The boy was taking another passage to being a man. He sat there, nervous, like that long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. His hands were shaking up to his elbows. The hair on his neck stood straight up.
Like the Eagles before him, he explained his project. Maybe he had built a pavilion behind his church, maybe he had resurrected a neglected cemetery off a country road. One Eagle had painted a big compass out at the airport. Five years later, another Eagle repainted it, to make it bright again for the pilots to see. Another built a set of steps at the soccer field for the Moms and Dads.
Every project had been proposed, approved, planned in detail.
The kid made a budget, bought the materials, set a date for the work, got his workers there on time. Then got them to clean up afterwards. He was their leader. He was there to supervise, not do. He made it happen, from idea, to start-up to the finished job.
He was only sixteen or seventeen. He still had school work to do, Scout meetings and a thousand things high school boys do every day.
They come to explain their project, that’s the easy part. Then they talk about summer camp. That’s the fun part.
One of the men asks him his plans after high school. Another asks what he knows about current events.
It’s naming the ten knots and tying one that scares the living daylights out of them. Most of them struggle a bit between the half hitch and the sheep’s bend. Sometimes, they forget the difference between a granny knot and a square knot.
The young man thinks he’s being grilled.
He isn’t. He’s already an Eagle. The men around the table are welcoming him into their fold.
Dave tells them they’re in a unique fraternity. They’ve done something most boys in the world never do. They can make friends with good people just by saying “Yes, I’m an Eagle Scout.”
Dave asks the final question: “What is the Scout Motto?”
The young man answers: “Be Prepared.”
Dave stands up and shakes his hand.
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