Today I’m going to the funeral for my late Scoutmaster Chuck Smith. It generally surprises people to hear this (for whatever reason), but I’m an Eagle Scout. I almost wasn’t. Scouting was fun but also kind of hard for me. I was good at it but I didn’t fit in. I was poor. I had shaggy hair. I listened to death metal. I didn’t like church. I liked to be by myself and read in my free time. Other Scout leaders weren’t shy with criticizing me, and they were downright reticent with acknowledgement of what I could do. I nearly quit Scouts a dozen times over.
Mr. Chuck was entirely the reason I stuck with Scouts long enough to make Eagle. He didn’t care how shaggy my hair got or that I didn’t believe in God. He praised what I got right and took the time to explain how I could get a handle on what I got wrong. He went far out of his way to make sure I could fully participate in the Scouting experience, and my life is richer for it. To paraphrase the cliche, he was a great Scoutmaster and a better man.
And now he’s gone. Rest in peace, Mr. Chuck. I’m really going to miss you.