Once-troubled teen takes fast track to Eagle Scout
Thursday, February 7, 2013
After a lifetime of adversity, a local teen has managed to work his way through the Boy Scouts to attain Eagle Scout status in just four years.
Seventeen-year-old Brian Bailey of Benton, Mo., did not start off with the typical Boy Scout experience. Bailey joined the group at 14, not long after his adoption, completely missing the early Cub Scout years typical of the road taken to Eagle Scout.
Bailey's past and delayed encounter with Boy scouting has had a positive and negative effect on his journey to achieving Eagle Scout status.
"It does make it harder because you're not brought up the same way as other guys," Bailey said. "But I guess because of the stuff I went through I worked harder to get it."
Before his adoption, Bailey's birth mother taught him to steal as a means of providing food for himself and two younger brothers. Eventually, Bailey and his brothers were raised in the foster care-system, where they attended 16 different schools.
Bailey said even after adoption, it would be difficult to imagine life without Boy Scouts.
"If I didn't do Boy Scouts I'd be at the very bottom," Bailey said. "I'd be nothing, literally nothing. Boy Scouts has been everything for me."
To reach Eagle Scout status, Bailey must earn 21 badges and earn respect from troop leaders and members. He not only gained the respect necessary to become an Eagle Scout, he was nominated by his troop to the Order of the Arrow, an honor society within the Boy Scouts attained through completion of camping experiences and a troop vote.
Bailey said he's living proof that Boy Scouts is for everybody, not just "over-achievers." For him, scouting is not about being perfect, but about "finding honor in your own name."
"There are plenty of kids out there that are just like I am, and they could do exactly what I can do," Bailey said. "I'm not that special, I just got the right cards and I played them the right way."
Despite his quick rise through the ranks, Bailey said he never expected to be an Eagle Scout. After quitting Boy Scouting for nearly a year, there was a time when he believed this achievement to be unattainable. Once rejoining, however, it became more of a way of life.
"Scouting involves a lot of volunteer community service," said Bailey. "But I think once you start the community service life it has a really big impact on you."
Bailey hopes one day become a law enforcement officer, which he considers a continuation of his community service lifestyle. Unlike most recreational groups, Bailey said Boy Scouts will offer him a jump start in his career choice.
"If you're looking for your future, it's most likely not in basketball or football unless you're extremely good," Bailey said. "But [Boy Scouting] is really the way to go because it teaches you values and skills that push your career forward."
Bailey hopes to continue working with the Boy Scouts as an assistant Scoutmaster, like his adoptive father. He also plans to work on his Eagle Palms -- a total of 15 merit badges obtained after the achievement of Eagle Scout status.
Local Boy Scout troops will gather for their annual Eagle Scout ceremony on Saturday Rose Theatre in Cape Girardeau. Bailey and other scouts who obtained Eagle Scout status in 2012 will be recognized and they will be presented with honorary medals for their achievements.
"Boy Scouts really is for anyone," Bailey said. "I hope my story can be a sort of inspiration for other people."
480 N. Pacific St., Cape Girardeau, MO