J. Sterling Morton, the founder of the National Arbor Day Foundation once said, “If you seek my monument, look around you.” The same could be said of Eagle Scouts; their monument lies in the people they’ve touched through their leadership, service, and example.
But wouldn’t it be great to have a permanent monument to your troop’s Eagle Scouts, one that’s entirely appropriate to Scouting? Imagine starting a grove of trees near your meeting place (or the local Scout camp or a nearby park), planting a tree each time one of your Scouts becomes an Eagle. Imagine a group of Tenderfoot Scouts walking through that grove 20 years from now, dreaming of the day they too could add their own tree to the collection.
Your local cooperative extension service office should be able to give you more information or help you get started. In most parts of the country, now is the about the right time to plant trees.
But that’s not the only “tree-mendous” way you can honor your new Eagle Scouts.
The National Arbor Day Foundation has a program called Trees in Celebration/Trees in Memory. For a $10 donation, you can have 20 native trees planted in your honoree’s name in either Superior National Forest in Minnesota or Blackwater River State Forest in Florida. (Locations vary from time to time.) The Eagle Scout’s name goes in a permanent online registry, and you receive a full-color certificate you can present at his court of honor. (If you’re pressed for time, you can download the certificate as a PDF file and print it yourself.)
Like dedicated volunteers in every organization, Scouters can get tunnel vision. We’re so used to doing things our way that we need on occasion to get shaken up.
Take food drives. In many councils, Scouting for Food is the gold standard. Over a couple of weekends, units canvass their neighborhoods and collect prodigious amounts of canned goods for local food pantries.
Scouting for Food is a great project, but it’s not the only way your unit can attack the problem of food insecurity. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I joined our church’s confirmation class for a very different kind of food project, one that’s perhaps more appropriate for this long, cold winter.
One Saturday, we spent a couple of hours packing food for a charity called Kids Against Hunger, which has satellites around the United States and Canada. Teams of 11 kids and chaperones formed assembly lines to put together meal kits consisting of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and vitamin and mineral powder. When combined with water, each kit will serve six children.
That day, we packed enough food to feed 12,000 people. Although some of the food stays at home, most goes overseas. In fact, the food our kids packed during a previous event went to the Philippines immediately after Typhoon Haiyan.
What innovative service projects has your unit done? Feel free to post ideas in the comments section below.
According to a Chinese proverb, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the next best time is now.”
I agree, although I might add a small amendment: the next best time is April 26, 2014.
Why that date? Because that Saturday has been named Trees for the World Day by the World Organization of the Scout Movement. As part of this special worldwide Messengers of Peace project, more than 15,000 Scouts from 31 countries are expected to plant trees. The slogan is “One Scout One Tree,” although I would guess many Scouts will plant more than one!
How can your unit get involved? Just click over to the Trees for The World Facebook page. There you’ll find more information, as well as a form you can complete to report your participation.
As you plan your participation, consider these 10 facts about trees:
- Trees produce oxygen.
- Trees clean the soil.
- Trees control noise pollution.
- Trees slow storm water runoff.
- Trees reduces carbon dioxide.
- Trees clean the air.
- Trees creates shades and cool.
- Trees act as windbreakers.
- Trees fight soil erosion.
- Trees increase property value.
Oh, and one more fact. Trees we plant demonstrate our own values. I love this quote I found from someone named Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”