“When my husband and I picked up our son—let’s call him Buster—from the train station this past weekend, he threw his gear into the car and proclaimed a state of near-starvation. We invited him to put off eating and join us at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a young man named Danny.Later in the post she mentions the passing of an Assistant Scoutmaster that Buster knew and the legacy of Scouts that filed into the funeral home to comfort his family and let them know that “Yes he mattered. His life mattered to me.”
Six years earlier, Buster had returned from a week at scout camp telling us about ‘this cute little kid, Danny, who just joined a few months ago—he’s shy but you can tell how badly he wants to be part of it.’ Three years after that, Danny had been an impressive all-day worker at Buster’s Eagle Project, where Buster called him ‘exceptional,’ and predicted that Danny, too, would reach Eagle. So, it was unsurprising that Buster willingly delayed dinner for this 'brother scout.'
Danny, with 52 merit badges on his sash and a scouting resume that truly was exceptional, even for an Eagle, began his prepared remarks by saying, ‘I didn’t know he would be here today, but that just makes this speech all the better, because I am going to begin by telling you that one of the biggest reasons I stand before you tonight as an Eagle is because of Buster.’”
The story of this Scoutmaster’s passing made me think of the recent passing of a fellow Wood Badger: Andy Russo.
I first met Andy in September of 2010, just a few months ago, when we arrived for our first weekend of Wood Badge. A fellow member of his troop was in my patrol and because of that, we all were able to learn of Andy. You see Andy was dealing with Pancreatic Cancer when he arrived at Wood Badge and we all knew that the likelihood of Andy finishing his ticket items was slim.
At first I wondered why someone would take on this ordeal when dealing with their own ordeal, but the answer was right there in front of me during both weekends, and the reason we ALL were at Wood Badge. It really isn’t about what you finish in life, but rather what you undertake along the way, what you leave behind for others, and what you teach others about living a worthwhile and productive life.
Throughout the entire 4 day program Andy was always happy, always ready with a sharp retort and always willing to help out. He wasn’t letting a little cancer get in his way of learning how to help our sons’ become better men, because as The Anchoress noted, it is all about something greater than yourself.
As we graduated from the classroom portion of the program and started our journey along our Wood Badge Tick path we walked down a long line of staff members and shook the hand of each person. The Course Director Isabelle then handed us a coin that I just happen to have in my pocket now. On one side it has the quote “It’s Your Move”. It is apparent to me, that Andy decided long before arriving at Wood Badge to make his move.
Andy died on Saturday, March 5, 2011 while his son was in a Scout Leader training class making his move in the continuing legacy of placing other’s before self.
Andy made his move and dedicated his life to the service of others. He was and is to me the epitome of what a true Scout Leader is - his life mattered because he made everyone he came in contact with think that their life mattered - because it does.
As Scout Leaders we need to ask our self a simple question: Whose life are you going to touch today and remind them that their life does matter, because it really is all about something greater than yourself.