It was 1972 and I was one merit badge shy of becoming an Eagle Scout, the Boy Scout’s highest rank and honor. But then the Watergate scandal broke, Richard Nixon was shown to be a crook and word got out that he also had been an Eagle Scout.
In tune with the tempo of the times, I refused to get that last merit badge. I argued that if Nixon was an Eagle Scout and went on to do such terrible things to our nation, then I didn’t want to be a member of that club. It broke my mother’s heart, but in my adolescent stubbornness I was as obstinate as any antiwar demonstrator.
But now I might have an opportunity to earn my belated Eagle designation. The Boy Scouts of the United Kingdom have introduced a new merit badge — for public relations.
Millions of young Scouts across the world are given activity badges for proving themselves in a wide variety of skills — traditionally fitness and outdoor-oriented skills like fire safety, horseback riding, and cooking. The Scout Association often updates and adds new skills to keep the movement relevant, and among them was the need to communicate effectively with the press, spokesman Andrew Thorp said.
“It’s a hugely media-driven world these days, whether it be through TV or radio or the Internet,” Thorp said. “We’re offering (young people) skills to talk about what they enjoy.”
Among the requirements for the new public relations badge: contacting a local media outlet and pitching a positive news story about scouting or writing a report about the movement and getting it published in, for example, a local paper.
I’ve already got a great story for the Miami Herald: Aging PR Exec Makes Eagle Scout! Hmm, I wonder if it counts if you have an intern pitch it …
Anyway, Mom will be proud.