Faith. Honor. Compassion. Bravery. Excellence.
These are a few words that describe the more than 2 million Boy Scouts of America who have earned the Eagle Scout rank, the highest honor in the scouts. For every 100 Boy Scouts, only four earn Eagle Scout.
In a recognition dinner Tuesday night at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center, 32 of a total of 233 Eagle Scouts who are part of the Southern Sierra Council were recognized in front of parents and sponsors. Through their leadership, more than 42,260 hours of service were given to the community. Those who were recognized earned the honor in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
As Samuel Lang, 15, enjoyed a bite of his salad during dinner, the Eagle Scout honor on the left side of his shirt contrasted perfectly with the more than 51 badges on his green sash.
"Scouting teaches you values and skills that you can probably get somewhere else but being a part of the Boy Scouts allows you to learn all those skills right then and there," Lang said. He has been in the scouts for nearly five years.
In order to qualify to be an Eagle Scout, scouts must have already earned 21 merit badges, develop a project that must benefit an organization other than boy scouting, serve actively for six months in a unit, take part in a leadership conference, and successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review.
Lang put together a performing group of scouting musicians and visited numerous nonprofit organizations and played music for them.
"Music is something that I am drawn to so being able to play for different people in town felt really awesome and we are actually still going around to different places and playing music because music can make anybody's day better," he said.
Making a difference in local communities is something that Danny Dane, Boy Scouts Council president, firmly believes is a reason why the scouting organization continues to grow.
"From the success of our community leaders to the future of our country, I am confident that each new Eagle Scout will and can make a difference in our society," Dane said.
In his Boy Scout uniform, keynote speaker Col. Douglas W. Jaquish of the U.S. Air Force spoke of how being a Boy Scout and earning Eagle Scout impacted his life.
Jaquish is the commandant of the Airforce Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and is responsible for the graduate level education of the Air Force's most highly skilled aviators.
"In the 26 years in the military, the things I learned at your age in the scouts have prepared me for the long journey of life," Jaquish said. "The world is challenging but scouting prepares you for that dynamic world you're going into."