A contributed perspectives piece by Matt Phillippi
February is a month filled with important dates in Scouting. On February 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was founded. The story goes that a man named W. D. Boyce found himself lost in the London fog one evening, and a young Scout happened to lend him a hand. He was so taken with this movement that he brought it back to the United States and founded the organization.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the man who starting the program of which that young Scout was a member was born on February 22, 1857. He was a soldier in the British army and was a war hero. He founded the Scouting movement with the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908. The movement, he stated, was intended to teach boys and girls the “three H’s.” He wanted them to be happy, healthy, and helpful citizens. Not just of Britain, but of the world.
February is also important for another reason: it is the anniversary of my earning the rank of Eagle Scout. You see, I grew up in the Scouting program right here in Harrisonburg. I earned my Eagle Scout rank on February 20, 2004. I had to get an extension because a hurricane named Isabel through my plans into disarray, but I persevered. It put a bookend on an interesting time in Scouting that had camping in a tornado in the early years during my first campout with what would be my troop.
I love Scouting. I currently volunteer my time to help dozens of other volunteers in our area fulfill the mission of the BSA: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Many men and women in our area are putting their time and effort into doing just that, and there are many that have come before them and those they influenced are all among us.
When people think of Scouting, they think of camping, outdoor activities, patriotism, community service, and likely many other things. Those are all methods we use to teach young men and women the values of the Scout Oath and Law. To always help other people. To always do our duty. To be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, etc. These values are timeless and we need to be reminded of them now more than ever in our society.
The BSA has gone through many changes over the years. It has become a more inclusive organization, opening registration to the LGBTQ+ community. Opening the flagship programs to young women (that were always along with us, they just couldn’t earn the badges until now). We have undertaken major policy initiatives to constantly make Scouting safer than ever before for our young people. It’s all because we want our youth to be happy, health, and helpful.
I want every youth to have the opportunities I had growing up. To spend time in the outdoors, to develop leadership skills, to interact with others that they may not otherwise get to interact with. I want our community to know that Scouting is still here, and our mission is still important. Feel free to reach out to find out more about how you can play a part in fulfilling that mission.
Matt Phillippi volunteers with the Virginia Headwaters Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Phillippi works with other volunteers in Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland, Pendleton, Rockbridge, and Rockingham Counties to deliver the Scouting program. When not volunteering, Phillippi works as the Internal Control Coordinator for JMU and is a graduate student in the MPA program focusing on non-profit management.