A Letter to Potential Eagle Scouts

The following is a letter from a dad to Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, and Mike’s response.

Clearly, Mike understands what the rank of Eagle means.  I concur completely with every word of Mike’s letter.  I pass it on for your consideration.


I’m not sure where I heard that you are an Eagle Scout, which brings me to my question. Could you PLEASE take a moment & post to my 13 year old son Kelby & encourage him to finish scouting (& anything else that’ll help with this?) Reason I’m asking is that he only lacks 1 1/2 – 2 years in reaching Eagle, but some of his buddies have got him to thinking scouting isn’t cool at his age.
Thanks much,  Gary



Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It’s a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing – The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through.

Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.

I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15, there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired me to do something I didn’t want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show. So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s why the award is called “an accomplishment.”

Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I’ve made in my own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, staring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.

Anyway, I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if have the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.

Good Luck,


Tags: ,

3 Responses to “A Letter to Potential Eagle Scouts”

  1. Cheryl A. Says:

    YEAH Mike!!! That is an awesome letter!

  2. Bob Mc Says:

    Mike, My son and I love your show and I appriciate reading your response to the above. I’m going to show it to my son who is also struggling with completing his Eagle. He only has his project to do and he has it. He’s 16 now and he’s not really receiving any flack from his friends, he’s just struggling with other things in life like wanting to get a job and a car and plaing HS football and track. It’s seems that ES has taken a back seat and I’m hoping and praying that he sticks with it.

  3. Kevin Says:

    Thanks for the letter that you sent Kelby. I will show it to my grandson also as many other parents have done. Some time we all need a little push. My grandson who I have raised since he was 2 years old has been in scouting since tiger cubs. I have been going all the way also with him. He is a good kid never caused me any problems at all. He just is getting dragged down. He has has a father that is in prison for the 3ed time since he has been with me and his grandmother. His mother is not much of one, she always has something better to do other spent time with him. He has always since he was young had to act the adult and them the child. With this always affecting him he has done very well with school, friends, church, and scouts. He has finished his eagle project 2 years ago At the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center. He installed bathrooms out of closets, rebuilt another, Tiled the entry way, installed a new water heater, and did some electric wiring. Jay has only one merit badge to go now and is almost 16.
    As a leader I have found scouting great. The boys are eager to learn and do before they get there drivers license and girl friends. But a bad leader can mess everything up and that is what happened to Jay. When Jay was Senior Patrol Leader she (scout master) just striped away his desire to go on. He and I started when he was 7 with 15 boys and now 8 years later 6 have got there eagle and he is the last one that is still in the program. Please help I am at wits end. I have fought, cried, pushed, and begged these 6 that have gone so far and I can not even help my own grandson due to a bad former adult leader.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: