Eagle Scout and Ham Radio — A New Perspective


It happened again last week in talking with some parents of a new Scout. They were lamenting about how busy their son was with all of his after school sports activities and weren’t sure he was going to be able to make the next Scout meeting.

I said I understood and I know that there are so many choices today for our kids, it is hard to prioritize what will benefit them the most. But I asked them to consider this.

I asked them what they wanted their child to get from their sports activities. Leadership, teamwork, a work ethic and exercise, was the reply. I then asked what lifelong skills would they learn. Good eye-hand coordination was the reply. I followed up with what other benefits do they get from the experience and the reply was, it gets them out of the house.

Well this is not the first time I have had this discussion with a Scout’s parents. I am a believer in being active in an organized activity, but maybe there are some other options.

Here is what I suggested they think about.

Eagle MedalI asked if they knew what an Eagle Scout was and meant. They replied, of course, it is the highest rank and honor in Scouting and it meant they had completed a service project and were a leader amongst their peers. I asked if they knew any Eagle Scouts, and they listed several of their friends and several very successful people.

I asked if they knew who their high school star quarterback was. They could only remember his first name and that he wasn’t doing anything connected to football.

I followed with, did you know that an Amateur Radio operator requires a license from the FCC and has been the source of most of the technological advancements we have today. They were slightly dumbfounded by that. Did they know there are over 130 Merit Badges ranging from American Business to Robotics, of course with hiking and camping included.

What about that having Eagle Scout listed on your resume carries great benefits from employers, the military and colleges. Adding an Amateur Radio license in addition to Eagle, only puts the icing on the cake. They were a little taken aback.

I added that if they were looking for activities that would get their son out of the house, be physically active, engage their mind, provide them with lifelong skills, give them leadership experience, be better prepared for college, give them opportunities for scholarships, pride in their accomplishments, that they will be safe and mentored and learn to be good citizens, they might want to reconsider Scouting and Amateur Radio on a higher priority.

I am happy to share with you, that they hadn’t thought of it that way and their son would be at the next Troop meeting.

I believe in the principles of Scouting and Amateur Radio, lifelong skills and service to our communities. For my money, they are two of the best organizations for our youth today.

Scouting and Amateur Radio compete with many other activities for time in our youths’ schedules and I think we should show our pride, be bold enough to suggest they can make a difference in our youth’s lives today, maybe more than ever before. Don’t be afraid to suggest they be a priority, think about the difference it made in your life and share those experiences proudly.

Just my opinion, what do you think? I would like to hear from you. W3LNE @ARRL.net

Don Kunst EMTP, ASM T151, Bear, W3LNE
National JOTA Committee Chairman, K2BSA
Vice President of K2BSA Amateur Radio Association

Eagle Scout Award


  1. Nicely done! We really can relate scouting and radio amateur. I already reconize the spirit of service. On desasters or other problems Scouts and Radio Amateur always help

  2. Two things I always mentioned to parents who think they have to choose between Scouts and sports:

    1. Go ask your son’s little league coach if he can guarantee that your son will be a starter on a varsity baseball team when he’s a senior in High School. Of course he can’t, but we can guarantee him a place in Scouting at that age.

    2. If they think he has a prospect at at pro sports career, mention that the entire rosters of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and ML baseball add up to a number that is smaller than the number of counties in the USA. So as long as he is best athlete of all sports in your county, he might have a chance. Otheris he needs to have a Plan B.

    Finally, I mention that sports and Scouting are fully compatible. My Eagle Scout Dad was captain of the swim team that won the NYC championship.

    My own Eagle Scout son’s first merit badges were sports, athletics, and personal fitness as that was what he was interested in. He went on to be the captain of his cross-country, indoor, and outdoor track teams in High school, and later competed in those sports at the NCAA level at Harvard University.

  3. As an Amateur Radio Operator, Volunteer Examiner,Listed Instructor and Radio Merit Badge Counselor, I have had the opportunity to work with many fine young men. I sit on our district’s Eagle Scout Boards of Review and had a young man come before me. He greeted me then added that he had attended one of my merit badge classes a few years before and got bit by the Ham Bug. He went to another local club and got his Technician License, The introductory level. A couple of months later and a lot of hard study and he upgraded to his Amateur General License. Not being satisfied, he went on to earn his Amateur Extra License, the highest level of licensing. That evening, he sat before his Eagle Board of Review. With the combination of his licensing and Eagle Scout rank, he was accepted to Georgia Tech to study Electrical Engineering with many scholarships.

  4. Well done. In addition I would list a few career based merit badges i.e. Digital Technology, Programming, Electronics, Electricity to name a few. As well as all of the great outdoor stuff. There are just too many good things that could be added to the discussion.
    Again, well done.

  5. Well said, Don. You echo the points I try to make in the sports and Scouting discussion and throw amateur radio in as a bonus.

    Our troop has a few Eagle Scout alumni who also got their ham licenses while in high school (and I’m happy that it could have been at least partly my inspiration that guided them). They are doing well – two are on their way to earning engineering degrees, one is in a technical career, and one is in medical school.

    Even those who aren’t yet licensed have seen what amateur radio can do, and are intrigued by Morse code and the magic of our hobby. Maybe someday they’ll take the next step.

    I regularly skim the local newspaper for achievements by our high school and college kids, and frequently see names of Scouts I know – even those who choose to leave Scouting continue to do well.

    But the ones who stick with it and continue in Scouting are usually able to manage academics, sports, band and other youth activities like robotics or DI – and most make it to Eagle Scout as well. Lack of time is no excuse – everyone has the same 24 hours.

    And amateur radio needs Scouting, for our hobby is getting “grayer” by the year, and we are desperately in need of young people with curiosity, intelligence and character to carry forth.

    Frank NF8M

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