As I go through life, my appreciation for my Scouting experience grows. It was hard to imagine as a pre-teen and teenager that the skills I was gaining then would help me years later. Like many other boys, I started my Scouting experience with focused determination. However, by the time I entered high school other activities and interests were taking much of my time. Scouting was one of many balls I was trying to juggle. Thankfully, it was not a “ball” that I dropped because my Scouting experience and especially my earning of the Eagle Scout rank has helped me tremendously over the years.
During my senior year of high school when it came time to apply for scholarships, I would have been an ‘average’ above-average applicant without Scouting. My list of activities were impressive by any standards, however, listing Eagle Scout as an accomplishment differentiated me from the crowd. My competition for locally sponsored scholarships also were involved in athletics, National Honor Society, and clubs. Only one other could boast of Eagle Scout. To the bewilderment of some who were better at sports, had a higher grade point average, were officers of the math club or were involved with student council, I was awarded two scholarships. One of the scholarships was highly coveted because it provided assistance for all four years of college. My friend, the other Eagle Scout, was awarded a number of very nice scholarships too. Maybe our more athletic, smarter or more involved classmates did not have as good of responses for the scholarship essays such as: “Explain about a time where you showed leadership” or “Explain about a time where you overcame an obstacle”. At the very least, we were the only two who had different experiences to write about.
College came and went in an all too fast four years and I found myself in a similar situation as before. This time I was filling out resumes and job applications instead of scholarship forms. Quickly it became apparent that interviewers did not care if you scored a touchdown or lead the science club to a museum field trip in high school. They wanted to see applicants that could demonstrate skills like leadership, teamwork and self-determination. Along with anecdotes from my various college activities, I would use Scouting as proof that I did indeed have those skills that they sought. Once again, Scouting and the Eagle Scout rank differentiated me from my competition.
Surprisingly after three years working as a marketing manager and two years spent earning an MBA from a top-10 business school, I was once again asked to recall events from my Scouting experience. By this time of my life, I expected that my career accomplishments would be ones that MBA recruiters sought. For the most part that is true. However, before my current corporation hires any new managers, they must first undergo a psychological profile evaluation. The company has determined a number of attributes that they feel all managers or executives must possess to be effective within the organization.
Starting from childhood and working toward the present, the evaluator asked me numerous questions about my life. When we progressed to my junior high and high school years, he asked some detailed questions. While he noted my other activities during that time, he asked a number of Scouting-related questions. Going beyond the “Did you earn the Eagle Scout rank?” question, the evaluator asked such questions as: “What did you do for your service project?”, “Were you a member of the Order of the Arrow?” and “Did you ever serve as Senior Patrol Leader or Junior Assistant Scoutmaster?” Obviously, the evaluator knew about Scouting and highly valued certain accomplishments within it. From the amount of time we spent talking about my Scouting experiences, I concluded that the evaluator must feel that there is strong correlation between Scouting successes and business successes.
Looking back, I wish I would have appreciated the skills and traits that were developed during my Scouting years. At the time, I did not realize that all those rainy campouts would form into experiences that would tremendously help me later. As I now am approaching 30 years of age, I am glad I had those times. Not only for the fun I had, but for what Scouting did for me as a person and a professional.
Tom Mazanetz – Grandson of H. Cushman “Gus” Anthony
(Tom wrote this to his Grandfather after a conversation they had back in 1999.)