I am both honored and privileged to sit on the Eagle Board of Review for the Miami District of the Anthony Wayne Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. I am also continually overwhelmed by the accomplishments, maturity, character, and career plans of the individuals that pass through that board on their way to achieving the rank of Eagle.
Not too long ago Preston Collins received his Eagle award at an Eagle Court of Honor that was held to recognize his achievements. Preston’s father, Brad Collins, relayed his thoughts on the Scouting program at‑that dinner. Brad has been gracious enough to give us permission to print his address from that occasion.
In light of a new program year kicking off – and prompted by a letter to the editor received by The Waynedale News – it only seemed proper to share Brad’s comments with the community. Brad Collins observations come through a unique perspective. Brad has been involved with‑the Prison Ministries program for over 15 years at the Allen County Jail.
We are gathered here today to honor an accomplishment that is rich in tradition and values, the award of Eagle Scout.
Recently I became aware that 75-80 years ago, my son Preston’s Great Grandfather L. Jack Hollar, also earned his Eagle Scout award. I have his plaque here with me today as a treasured possession.
Our society today is experiencing a severe decline in morality and values, and has been for some time now. In addition, alcohol, drug abuse, crime, and gang activity are on the rise, even here in the Fort Wayne area‑and in our youth today. Young boys are especially vulnerable. In fact, the most dangerous youth statistically is the 14‑-17 year old male. Our detention centers and prisons are full beyond capacity with our troubled youth.
How do I know? I have been a volunteer jail minister here at the Allen County jail for the past 15 years. I know first hand of 17 year old murderers, gang members, young extremely violent offenders who may never get out of prison. Most‑of them tell me the same thing: they were caught up in activities that they now deeply regret. Lack of direction, lack of positive mentors, lack of constructive adult supervision and activities, all contributed to their rebellion, bad decisions, and downfall. What amazed me was the fact that they were all surprised to be locked up, finding out too late that their future is gone.
Thankfully there are still men and women who are willing to devote their time and resources to our youth today. Now, more than ever, we need Scouting programs. Scouting is a time-and-labor-intensive program that is still mentoring, changing, and molding time tested values into our boys and girls as Brownies and Cub‑Scouts, leading eventually to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Can 2 to 2 1/2 percent be a good number? I think so. I have been told that only 2 to 2 1/2 percent of Scouts ever attain the rank of Eagle Scout. As I think about it, I don’t remember reading or hearing about Eagle Scouts causing much trouble in our country today.
There is a difference between youth involved in a positive program such as Scouting and the lost wandering youth roaming our streets today.
In closing, I want to personally thank those who have spent countless hours of their‑time, vacations, and money for my son, Preston, and sons of many others that they have probably not been thanked. Our country desperately needs devoted men and women, mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, who are willing to help lead our children and someday, their children, to a life of purpose, value, and accomplishment.
You see—-it still does take a village to raise a child.