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Greater St. Louis Area Council: Boy Scouts of America

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The Duffle Blog > Posts > Lodge Chief Pledges Service To Scouting, Appreciates Lessons Learned
October 15
Lodge Chief Pledges Service To Scouting, Appreciates Lessons Learned

The following is the text of a presentation that Austin Smith, newly elected chief of the Shawnee Lodge of the Order of the Arrow, made to the Executive Board of the Greater St. Louis Area Council on Sept. 27, 2012. 

Smith, Austin-Shawnee Lodge Chief.jpg
I've been involved in Scouting since I was 6 years old and am now 17. 
As a young Scout, I discovered certain things about myself I could not have discovered if I were not in Scouting. For starters, I love the outdoors and all the activities that go with it. I enjoyed every camping opportunity I could, ranging from North Star District’s camporees to the Swift Base Weblos Mini-Camp. In Cub Scouts, I learned how to work toward goals, work with others, and always do my best.

As I crossed over into Boy Scout Troop 940 at St. Angela Merici Catholic School in north St. Louis County, I found yet another passion: leadership. I began to climb the ranks in my troop and benefit from the experiences I received in them. In an effort to further my leadership skills, I attended National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and further developed my skills by serving on staff the following year. 

I became very involved in many other activities outside of my troop. I became a dedicated member of my district camporee staffs. I was elected into the Order of the Arrow, joined ceremonial teams, and interviewed to be a chairman on North Star's chapter board. When I was old enough, I joined a Venture crew. I learned about the Catholic Committee on Scouting and served in roles that included my faith. Through these numerous activities, I was simply enjoying myself and doing what I liked. I enjoyed leading others in the same activities I enjoyed participating in as a young Scout. I didn't even think of how I could benefit from what I was doing in the future. I simply enjoyed learning how to lead, serve, and communicate through these multiple activities.

As time went on and I grew more advanced in my skills of leadership, I also advanced in the positions I held in each of these programs. By the time I turned 17, I had been senior patrol leader of my troop, master of ceremonies at Catholic Encounter Weekend, campmaster of North Star's camporee, chapter chief, and youth director in NYLT. In the next few months, I earned my Eagle and, most recently, was elected as the chief of Shawnee Lodge.

Earlier, I learned the skills needed to be a leader. Now, because of Scouting, I am able to apply my skills in real situations that teach me more lessons. The opportunities I am gaining from my learning experiences are immense. At 17, I had the leadership skills and opportunities that most people  never get the chance to experience. Each program helped me reach a pinnacle and my full potential. And now, influenced by Scouting, I want to do that with my life.
 
I’ve also noticed, as I’ve grown up and started to choose what type of person I would like to be, that many of my ideals and morals stem from the Scout Oath and Law. The friends I made in Scouting are friends I want to be with any day and not just Scouting events. Their ideals come from Scouting as well. Scouting has not only taught me valuable skills, it guided me in my choice of friends and lifestyle.
 
I applied my leadership skills through opportunities given to me through Scouts. I helped start a youth group in my parish, I hold leadership positions in my school, I apply what I learned at my job, and I founded and lead an actual business, Ignatian Business Leaders. It acts as a club with the purpose of business education and experience through my school, St. Louis University High. These examples are only the beginning of what I am achieving because of what Scouting has given me.
 
As I serve as chief of Shawnee Lodge this coming year, I pledge to use what I learned from Scouting to promote, enhance, and maintain the camping and service programs so others may benefit from them. I appreciate everything Scouting has done for me. From you, to the adults who supported me throughout my Scouting career, to the friends I encountered while doing what I love, I have been impacted in a tremendous way and I will appreciate it for the entirety of my life.
 
I found my best and lifelong friends in Scouting. I learned valuable lessons and skills through my Scouting experiences. I formed my ideals and morals from what I have been taught in Scouting. My life ambitions and passions were developed in Scouting. I am who I am because of the Scouting program, and now I want to give back.
--Austin Smith
Chief, Shawnee Lodge
Order of the Arrow

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