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No one disputes the benefits of Scouting. It builds character and develops leadership skills. That’s a fact! Testimonials to the impact of Scouting on young lives are abundant. Our sons will gladly tell you that without Scouting, they would not have battled raging white water rapids in an open raft, paddled a canoe on the C&O Canal, or shared a Shenandoah Trail campsite with a black bear. And if they’d waited for their parents to take them spelunking through dark wet caves, and rappelling down the face of a cliff, they’d still be waiting.

Unfortunately, we seldom hear about the impact of scouting on parents. I know of no better way to be involved in children’s lives than through scouting. My husband and I had always thought of ourselves as involved parents. Then, in 1972, our oldest son joined Troop 16, and we learned the real meaning of involvement. In no time we were committee members and merit badge counselors, and when our two younger sons joined Cub Pack 16, I was a den leader. Our family was embedded in a culture of hiking, camping, pinewood derbies, fruit sales and paper drives. Not to mention field trips, service projects, and sewing patches and badges on four uniforms.

While this might not sound like a good thing, we all survived. Whether we were struggling through a difficult project or rejoicing over the completion of a challenging merit badge, we worked together. And who could forget the Scouting expo where one son proudly served me peach cobbler that he had personally cooked in a cast iron Dutch oven over an open fire? And another son smiled down at me from a high ropes course that he had helped construct? Some things are better forgotten, of course, like the look of rapture on the face of our youngest who appeared before me with a python wrapped around his waist.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike invited the family to Orlando, Florida to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Eagle Scout. “A small, intimate affair,” he said, repeating what he had been told. Work schedules prevented some family members from attending, but Mike’s brother, Scott, and my husband and I headed to Orlando for the ‘small, intimate gathering.’

It seemed odd that we were being led into a hotel kitchen, but then these were the Scouts, after all. Maybe this was their idea of a small, intimate breakfast. After the last Scouting function I had attended, nothing would surprise me. We had been led into a vast arena filled with Boy Scouts, leaders, and guests who were awaiting the arrival of the ‘guest of honor.’ To the cheering of 80,000 people, a Caterpillar front-end loader crossed the arena and approached the enormous stage. The bucket was lowered, and out stepped Mike Rowe into the Jamboree spotlight.

When the time came, we were led from the kitchen into a room with 2000 Scout families, officials, and volunteers. Mike would be the recipient of the highest and most prestigious award in Scouting — the 2012 Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA.) The medal, hanging from a red, white, and blue ribbon, was placed around his neck, then Mr. Glenn Adams, president of DESA said some very nice things about our son and his accomplishments. In short, Mike received this award because he created and produced an Emmy-nominated series championing the American tradesperson and celebrating labor and hard work. And, for starting a foundation, mikeroweWORKS, that awards stipends and tools to trade school and technical college students.

In his acceptance speech, Mike spoke of his experiences in Scouting and recognized the service of volunteers. He introduced his younger brother, Scott, sitting beside his father, and teased that he had only made it to Star Scout and didn’t have any medals. Then Mike talked about that day his brother dove into deep water, pulled a drowning man to the surface, and resuscitated him. He spoke of Scott’s humility, and people applauded.

Mike fingered the award hanging around his neck. “There are medals, and then there is mettle,” he said, nodding toward his brother. As I watched my husband pat our son on the back, it occurred to me that Scouting continues to involve us in the lives of our children — in a very good way.

Then, of course, I teared up, because that’s what we mothers do when we’re proud.

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13 Comments

    1. Mrs. Rowe,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. My youngest son just made Eagle and he is still struggling with what an honor it is. He really admires Mike and now has a new understanding that this is a GREAT honor and it is cool to have worked so hard to accomplish this.

      Thank you again.

      Bernadette | 07/12/12 | 8:38 pm
    2. Mrs. Rowe, Mike’s DESA award honors your whole family. Thank you for sharing your tears of happiness and joy on how Scouting has impacted your lives.

      Karen (BGE_Quilter) | 06/16/12 | 10:57 pm
    3. Love your stories Mrs. Rowe. My youngest son just got his Eagle project approved, so now the fun will start! I go into this with mixed feelings, happy that he’s almost there, but sad that this fun scouting trip is almost over. Congratulations on your Eagle scout! keep the stories coming!

      Carolyn | 06/15/12 | 6:31 pm
    4. My son Scott became and Eagle Scout 3 years ago. It was and still is the best thing he could have done. Because of Boy Scouts he gained confidence in all parts of his life. Because he bacame an Eagle Scout his is now going to work this summer in New York for the National Leader Ship Conference in Culinary Arts. He still helps out with his old troop whenever he is home from college. His best friends are all boys that he met in scouting. He still goes to all the Order of the Arrow events that he can. He is proud to wear that uniform and be part of a wonderful organization.

      Janet Forman | 06/14/12 | 7:31 pm
    5. You have a lot to be proud of Mrs. Rowe. Congrats Mike. It was very gracious of you to mention your brother. He sounds like a great guy.

      Dani V | 06/14/12 | 7:20 pm
    6. What a great article!!! First, Mike would not have made his incredible achievements without your help. As an Eagle Scout (’83) and current Cubmaster of my boys’ Pack, I thank you for your service to the orgainization. I would like to share your story with each and every parent in my Pack to help them understand the importance of parents’ involvement in the program.

      Congratulations to your family (and Mike) for this incredible achievement and honor!!!!

      Kevin | 06/14/12 | 5:37 pm
    7. Congratulations Mike! And Thank you Mrs. Rowe for sharing this story with us. A truly awesome story it is!

      Jennifer B. | 06/14/12 | 5:26 pm
    8. Here, here! You have a beautiful family Mr. and Mrs. Rowe, Love, Shannon

      Shannon Conley | 06/14/12 | 8:58 am
    9. Mrs. Rowe, I tear up at the darn pinewood derbys and raingutter regattas. Can’t imagine the pride at the Eagle Award ceremony. Congrats to you, Mr. Rowe, Scott and Mike.

      Sal | 06/13/12 | 6:59 pm
    10. I am sure that scouts did have a very positive effect on your boys, but I think the two gentle people that raised them had more to do with that. You are very blessed.

      Ellen | 06/13/12 | 4:16 pm
    11. Mike,

      You should give your Brother Scott the “mettle” for heavens sake! He saved a life-)

      Thank you Mrs. Rowe

      PlantWhisperer | 06/13/12 | 11:33 am
    12. Yes, that is what we do when we’re proud. Very nice Mrs. Rowe.
      Thanks,

      KathyZ. | 06/13/12 | 11:32 am
    13. I love that: “There are medals, and then there is mettle”.

      Congratulations to you Mike. What an honor. And really, what an honor for the Boy Scouts that you are still very much a part by the encouragement you lend the Organization as a whole and the individual groups you meet with. You can see the joy on the boy’s faces in the photo :)

      Thanks, Mrs. Rowe, another look into your life. You’ve both led a very busy, fulfilling (it would seem) life raising your boys. Thanks, too, for including pictures! I always enjoy seeing them.

      debi | 06/13/12 | 11:25 am