“When you’re an Eagle Scout, it’s not I was an Eagle Scout, it’s I am an Eagle Scout, and you are an Eagle Scout for the rest of your life.”  -Brian Weaver

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Weaver, the committee chair for the Scout troops 7 and 9, here in Benicia. He is an Eagle Scout from Seattle, and a longtime Scouting volunteer. Brian offered his viewpoint of Scouting today, giving us insights regarding the process of becoming an Eagle Scout, the qualities necessary to attain Eagle Scout status, the addition of girls into the BSA (Boy Scouts of America), and other topics related to Scouting.

How long does it take to become an Eagle Scout?

In Scouts BSA, youth are aged 11 to 17. If they want to be Eagle Scouts, they need to complete all the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank by the age of 18. This can be done in 2 1/2 years, and is usually done in high school, but there’s no timeline. The Scouts must hold a position of responsibility or leadership. They must earn 21 merit badges, several of which are required merit badges, like citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation and the world, citizenship and society, which is our newest merit badge. Other merit badges are camping, environmental science, sustainability, and first aid. They need to complete their Eagle Project, the most significant part of being an Eagle Scout. The Eagle Project is something each Scout plans individually. They manage it and execute it, it’s something that benefits their community or a nonprofit, and it’s something that the Scout leads or manages others to complete.

What qualities does a boy or girl require to become an Eagle Scout ?

They must be able and willing to follow the Scout Law, which is to be: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  These 12 points are more than just words. To the Scouts this is something that they believe in and live daily. When you’re an Eagle Scout, it’s not, “ I was an Eagle Scout”; it’s, “I am an Eagle Scout,” and you are an Eagle Scout for the rest of your life. Living with the values reflected in the Scout Law helps a Scout learn determination, develop grit, and have a curiosity to learn. I find the Scouting program is diverse in its membership and in its opportunities for each Scout. There are 136 merit badges that a Scout can earn. Benicia Scout Parker Sauers is striving to earn all 136 merit badges. There is one Scout a year in the nation that does that and Parker has 103 now.

What is the overall vision and mission of the Scouts?

The vision for Scouting is to encourage and enable every American youth to be an active participant in their country, an active citizen, and an active leader in society. Through the advancement program in Scouting, there are positions of responsibility that Scouts need to hold. A troop meeting can look like controlled chaos sometimes, but it’s the Scouts leading Scouts. They are deciding what events or outings they’re going to do. The Scouts plan their own outings; for example, they’re going on a snow camping trip next weekend and the Scouts are planning activities, menus, and a list of jobs.  Whether it is successful or not, they learn from that. It’s a safe place for that to happen.

Inclusion of girls in the Scouts began in 2017.  Are there any girl Eagle Scouts yet?

Cub Scouting opened to girls in 2017, and in 2018 they expanded membership to girls 11 to 17. There are no girl Eagles yet in Benicia, but next year we’ll have our first round of girl Eagles. I sit on our council board of directors and we have an award for the best Eagle projects in the area. The criteria for the project are as follows: Is it unique? Did they raise funds in a unique way? What adversity did they come up against? How did they show leadership? Scouts BSA also has the Adams award in which each council nominates an Adams award recipient. We selected Apara Sai Jella, in Contra Costa.  She revitalized and repaired a women’s shelter in Oakland that was for women going through rehabilitation. Apara created a meeting area and meditation area, a children’s play area, and beautiful wall murals as well. She accomplished her project through a Go Fund Me campaign, and met her projected cost within 48 hours. Her project achieved the regional level and then the national level!  Our own Bay Area council had the best Eagle project in the country.

What are you most proud of with your involvement with the Scouts?

The start of the girls troop here in Benicia in 2018 makes me proud. Our original group of nine girls are sophomores now, and we’re taking them on a 50 mile canoe trek this summer. We meet twice a month at the VFW, and each time there’s a new girl that shows up.  We’ve doubled in size and probably have 15 or 16 girls now.

Do you have any final thoughts that you wish to convey to our readers?

Scouts believe in “fun with a purpose.”  Every month we do something new.  We went indoor skydiving last weekend, and besides having fun, we learned about terminal velocity and the engineering behind the activity.  Summer camp offers swimming, horseback riding, archery, and other activities. Camaraderie develops between members and it’s great to see the older Scouts looking out for the younger ones.  Lifelong friendships develop with Scouting.  You get to know a lot about people. We all have similar values, yet everyone is different.