Scouting Biography of Daniel M.
I was born on December 6, 1986 in the Hudson Valley Hospital. My Dad first took me camping when I was a toddler. When I was six I started grammar school at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. As school went on, I noticed that on certain days some of the students wore blue uniforms with medals and patches. I asked my friend, Ryan D, whose father was a Cubmaster, about Cub Scouts. It sounded fun, so I joined the Seton Cub Scout Pack 238. Our Den meetings consisted mostly of arts and craft activities, and which were good because they taught us to work with our hands, but my favorite event was our annual sleepover at Sharpe Reservation. We didn't actually camp outside in tents, but we went hiking, had a campfire, and learned how to use our pocket knives.
In fifth grade I earned my Arrow of Light. Ryan D. and I were bridged over into the world of Boy Scouts, and joined Troop 174, then under the leadership of Mr. Bob Landsman. The first meeting I went to intimidated me a little. It was so different from Cub Scouts, and I didn't know most of the kids, who were older than me. I didn't want to be in Boy Scouts, but my Dad convinced me to give it a chance. The weekly Troop meetings were fun because we got to play games every night, but they were serious too. At the meetings we learned Scouting skills, discipline, and respect. Mr. Landsman taught us a great deal about the last two. Anyone who didn't have their neckerchief slide would have their neckerchief abruptly fastened around their neck with a huge double knot that took three hours to untie. Everyone had to be in order. This was new to me, and perhaps a little intimidating, but it soon ceased to hinder my enjoyment of Scouting.
One of the first events I went to was to help out with an Eagle Scout project. My first great campout in Troop 174 was Giant Ledge. I really liked it because it was the first time I had ever been or slept on top of a mountain. The trip was led by our Troop mentor, Dale S., who also held meetings after school on Tuesdays at his house. Every week Dale would teach us different Scouting skills. It was like an extended Dan Beard class, but better. Dale taught us how to start a fire with flint and steel, lashing, knot-tying, and identifying native plants and animals. Dale gave Troop 174 many hours of his time, and taught me many Scouting skills that I still use today.
By the end of my first year in Scouts I had no thoughts of quitting Scouts because it was so much fun. Two years after I joined, Mr. Chris Long replaced Mr. Landsman as Scoutmaster. Mr. Long ran the Troop differently, although I wasn't too familiar with Mr. Landsman's regime, being a younger Scout. The calendar was still replete with events. We had many outings every month, and during the summer I went to Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation for two weeks. Scout Camp was a great experience. You had many freedoms, but also many responsibilities. It taught me what it means to earn a merit badge. It is up to you to go to every class, and do all your work. The third year I went to Read, I was a Den Chief for one week. I was in charge of six Webelos that I had to keep an eye on and assist the adults in entertaining and controlling the rowdy kids. They taught me a lot about dealing with people, and by the end of the week we all had a good time. The last year I went to Read, I spent the first week on a canoe trek. It was very memorable, and took a lot of work and perseverance, although we really didn't have a choice.
Through the campouts and Scouting functions I became acquainted with four other Scouts my age. We had some great times together when we were young Scouts, but as we moved on past First Class, they dropped out for various reasons. By age 16, I was the only one in my age group in Troop 174.
But when you attain First Class, you are a full-fledged Scout, ready to give Scouting rather than just receiving it. During my Freshman year in high school I served as the Senior Patrol Leader. That was my first major position of responsibility in the Troop. I had to arrange all the meetings, make plans and see that they were carried out. It taught me the meaning of leadership, and it gave me organizational skills. I had to devote much time and energy to make the Troop run, which took precedent over my personal life.
During my final years in Troop 174, I was the only "older guy," so I associated with the Scouts closest to my age. When I had the ranks of Star and Life, my function was mostly to give Scouting. I became the Troop Instructor, and helped to pass on the skills I had learned from Dale, my father, and all the other kind people who taught me. In my Junior and Senior years in high school, I was often very busy in preparing for college, so I didn't attend as many events as I would have liked to, but I enjoyed the Scouting experience until the end.
Ever since I joined Boy Scouts so long ago, I had always intended to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. I'd seen so many Eagles come out of this Troop, and I saw attaining this rank as a natural part of Scouting. By Junior year, school had imposed much pressure in my life to make the grades, but Mr. Long, my parents, and all the adults began to pressure me to work on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
I had to find a project. My Mom suggested helping the SPCA because they were in need of volunteers. I contacted them and we decided a plan of action to improve the condition of their dog-walking trails. The paperwork and organizing was the hardest work. I had to do it all on my own. Carrying out the project was the easiest and most fun because I had help from my Dad and many Scouts and parents. The work was completed on schedule, and the project was success. But there was still a lot of paperwork left. It took me longer to get that done than the actual project, but I made it in time for my eighteenth birthday.
My Senior year in high school was filled with college applications, tests, books, and essays. Getting into college was like passing an elaborate test, or a series of elaborate tests. I applied to Cornell, Northwestern, Penn State, and McGill. I was accepted to McGill and Penn State, but rejected from Cornell and Northwestern. I chose to go to McGill because it is a reputable school in Canada, and it has great facilities. I am studying Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. My favorite science is Biology, and I don't want to go into a certain field to make lots of money. I would rather devote my energies to making a positive change in the world. I believe that the future of humanity depends on sustainable agriculture, on earth and in outer space. That is why I'm studying agriculture.
So for now I can breathe a sigh of relief. I had achieved my goals in
high school and Boy Scouts. There is so much that I've learned in the classroom
and in the woods that has helped me in life. School and Boy Scouts are
over for me, but I will take with me the great memories, the skills, and
ideals of Scouting. It is a priceless experience that Scoutmasters, parents
and Scouts help to create, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Photo by Margaret L.