Boy Scouts is more than just an extracurricular activity; it’s a lifestyle

With+his+Boy+Scouts+uniform+on%2C+senior+Daniel+Kong+stands+in+front+of+the+%E2%80%9CBSA+Troop+1747%E2%80%9D+banner.+Kong+spearheaded+an+Eagle+Scout+Project+on+May+15%2C+2020%2C+handcrafting+black+bookshelves%2C+both+of+which+were+donated+to+The+Accolade+in+Room+138.+

Image used with permission from Daniel Kong

With his Boy Scouts uniform on, senior Daniel Kong stands in front of the “BSA Troop 1747” banner. Kong spearheaded an Eagle Scout Project on May 15, 2020, handcrafting black bookshelves, both of which were donated to The Accolade in Room 138.

Daniel Kong

Facing the 100 members of my Boy Scout group, I stood inside the chapel of Mission Community Church in Anaheim on Aug. 21, 2021 and proudly shouted “Troop, what do we stand for?”

“For God, country, 1747!” they shouted back, before clapping three times.

I initially joined Boy Scout Troop 1747 in 2015 with my best friend, Troy High School senior Ryan Kim, to build leadership skills and strengthen my college resume. Little did I know, this extracurricular activity would change me as a person — from the way I carry myself to what I value.

 Before joining the organization, I only knew that astronaut Neil Armstrong and former President John F. Kennedy had participated in it, but that was more than enough to make me — a sixth-grader — excited.

My first meeting was far from perfect because I only knew Ryan out of the 30 scouts in my troop. Being shy, I didn’t approach anyone to become friends and even considered quitting after the second meeting because of my lack of brotherhood within the troop. 

My first camping trip in 2015, however, eliminated any thoughts I ever held of leaving.

From pitching tents in the scorching heat to hiking at the crack of dawn, I slowly familiarized myself with my fellow scouts, including current Sunny Hills seniors Ethan Kang, Andrew Kim and Aaron Kim. The nights I spent cracking jokes with my new friends taught me the importance of making the most out of my Boy Scouts experiences.

I hold my fondest memory to be the weekend I spent whitewater rafting in April 2019 at Kern County.

During our trip down the rapids, Ethan and I flew off the boat, resulting in us having to swim against the strong currents. Although the water was near freezing temperatures, we were still somehow laughing about falling off.

That’s when I realized I should cherish my friendships and live in the moment. 

After safely climbing back on the raft, I looked around and saw the faces of five boys who I knew I could count on for the rest of my life. 

The snowboarding trip we took as 10th-graders to Mountain High in Wrightwood, Calif. made for another memorable moment. Having snowboarded many times in previous years, I approached the slopes with the confidence of a professional. 

After my third run of the most difficult obstacle course, I decided to ride down without a helmet because I was mildly sweating. But just as I was about to get on the ski lift, Andrew yelled at me.

“Yo! You forgot your helmet, idiot!”

My other friends began to chime in, eventually leading me to put my helmet back on.

But as I went down the snowy summit for the fourth time, I decided to race my friends to see who could reach the bottom the fastest.

Not even 20 seconds into the competition, I took a big fall down the hill, losing my helmet and Apple Airpods.

I slowly got up from the snow and walked down the hill to be greeted by the concerned look of my friends who were waiting for me.

After a long lecture from my Scoutmaster about the importance of safety, I went back to my friends to thank them for making me wear a helmet. From there on out, I learned to never put pride or comfort over safety.

More than anything, the most unforgettable annual activity was, without a doubt, the weeklong summer camps where I learned to be independent and responsible.

Every year, my Boy Scouts troop heads to a different campsite for a week, and we gain memorable experiences — from eating bland food to searching for famous constellations in the night sky and earning merit badges.

Out of the 30 merit badges I earned from previous summer camps, cooking was my favorite and most important merit badge to earn. 

Not only did this merit badge teach me the necessary skills of cooking, such as preheating a pan, it also taught me how to cook safely.

From the merit badges and experiences I gathered from Boy Scouts, I became a patrol leader as a freshman, teaching 10 members of my patrol the values of Boy Scouts, including the Scout Oath, Law and Motto.

Though my Boy Scouts adventures have mostly provided nothing but positive memories, I do remember my share of rare negative experiences.

The annual summer camp in 2019 was held at the Mataguay Scout Ranch in San Diego, where other troops also came to hold their own activities. Our particular group, mostly made up of Korean Americans, attracted many stares.

On the third day of camp, another troop’s members yelled Asian derogatory terms at my troop members as they were passing their campsites. 

Being the senior patrol leader at the time, I contacted their Scoutmaster who made sure that the members apologized to us for their behavior.

The Scout Oath, written in the official handbook, goes as follows:

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

Throughout my seven years, I strived to be an example of what it meant to be “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

Although I officially graduated from Troop 1747 as an Eagle Scout in December, I know the values and memories I gained from Scouting will live with me forever.

I hope that through my children, I will be able to relive the Scouting experience while guiding them to live their lives abiding to the Scout values.