By John Matonich
I was reading a report from a professional organization I belong to that made me feel a little proud. The report was about some fellow members of this organization helping out at the national Boy Scout Jamboree. They were helping those in attendance who wanted to earn the Surveying Merit Badge.
In 1911 the first “Merit Badges” were introduced. There were 57 of them. Prior to that year, there were 10 “Badges of Merit”. Most of those were incorporated into the Merit Badges in 1911 or discontinued. Of the original 57, only a handful remain. Many have been discontinued or combined with others. Of the original merit badges one that does remain is the Surveying Merit Badge. As someone who spent a number of years in scouting as well as being a professional surveyor, I couldn’t help but be proud.
I drive past an “Adopt a Highway” sign about every day that brings back many great memories. That portion of US-2 is adopted by Bessemer Boy Scout Troop 315. The reason I smile when I see the sign is that I was a member of Scout Troop 315 just a few years ago…well, ok, a lot of years ago. I owe a lot in my life to my time in scouting and use many of the things I’ve learned every day.
Scout Troop 315 met at a small church not too far from my house back in the day and I remember attending most of the meetings. We always seemed to have community projects to do which was thought of as a pain back then, but today I see the value in the lessons it taught us. Earning merit badges gave us the tools to learn and live. From tying a necktie to building a minnow trap, we learned a lot and always looked for ways to use those lessons.
I remember we built dogsleds one winter using some of the skills we acquired from earning the carpentry merit badge. I think I remember some help from the Dads too. We then got together and raced the sleds we built. There was a lot of appreciation for our work that day. It felt good to take something you built and put it into action.
I was able to earn enough money one summer to attend scout camp. It was there we swam a mile at one shot to earn the swimming merit badge. I also was able to earn my shooting merit badge as well as a number of other shooting awards. I must have done something right because at the end of our time there I was inducted into the Scouting Order of the Arrow. It was a ceremony I still remember today.
I made it through almost all the levels of scouting, but wasn’t able to achieve the level of Eagle Scout. I worked on it for quite a while and have a ton of respect and admiration for those who have earned it as I know how hard they worked.
Scouting was very good for me and I always encourage parents to consider scouting as a place for their own. Start as soon as possible and I know it won’t be long before the benefits of scouting will show. While I don’t have to tie a necktie much anymore I do seem to still build a few things every now and again and I thank scouting every time I do for giving me the foundation it did. Now back to that minnow trap.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: Ariel Grimm