After working for several months on the requirements for the Personal Fitness merit badge, I made an appointment with a counselor to pass it off. I met with Jimmy Hill at his home. Jimmy carefully made sure I had satisfied the requirements. He explained to me the importance of physical health and cautioned me to always use protective eye wear when doing projects, as he had once been poked in the eye by a branch when pruning a tree.
On another occasion a group of my friends were planning on hiking up in the hills above our homes to a prominent rock feature. I was keen to go hiking with my friends. But when someone said that one of the boys would be bringing some pornographic magazines, I determined not to go.
As a young teenager I became an avid skateboarder. I got pretty good at it too (even if I can barely stand on a skateboard nowadays). Back in those days we were able to enjoy the pastime without having to dress or groom ourselves in a particular fashion. We could skateboard without having to take on a 'boarder' identity.
Once when I was riding at a fairly popular venue, the only two other boys present offered me a joint. I turned them down flat despite their insistence. I had already learned to just say no to drugs. It dawned on me later that part of the reason they were so persistent about wanting me to join them was so that I wouldn't squeal on them.
The Boy Scout Law says, "A scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean." That might come as a shock to those that have gone to camp for a week with scouts or to the mom that does the wash after her son returns from camp.
Physical fitness has been part of scouting from its earliest days. Lord Robert Baden-Powell introduced many physical activities on the first scouting campout. Cleanliness has also been a key principle. Performing service projects to help keep communities clean has been and continues to be a key feature in scouting.
I have taken part in many Eagle Scout service projects over the years. Many of them have aimed to beautify and improve communities.
When I look back on my youth, I realize that I had many opportunities to associate with people that chose low moral standards. But for some reason our ways eventually parted as we got older. I believe that scouting played an important role in my choice of friends.
The Boy Scout Law also says that a scout "chooses the company of those who live by high standards." When we have high standards ourselves, we tend to gravitate to others that share those ideals. Positive peer pressure makes us want to rise to challenges and improve ourselves.
Today we have more personal hygiene products than ever. We have clothing that resists odor causing bacteria. We have better cleaning supplies and equipment than at any time in history. In short, we have the ability to be more physically clean than ever.
But at the same time we have more access to mental filth and it is far easier to be mentally, morally, and physically slothful than ever. In the face of such cultural debauchery, scouting continues to teach boys to be physically, mentally, and morally clean.
A scout is clean.