DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At 86, Leo Lee needs no prompting to recite the promise that he’s made so many, many times: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, obey the Scout law, help other people at all times … to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
It’s the Boy Scout Pledge—and Lee laughs when asked about his haul if he had a dollar for each time he’d said it.
“I’d have about $60-$70,000 dollars!” But, as he looks back over a lifetime of involvement with the Boy Scouts, he admits he’s gotten so much more.
“I’ve heard people say the things they learned in scouting were the same people skills they use as an adult, so that was my experience as well.”
Lee’s journey began as a cub scout, just looking to go camping. “I would have been about 9 years old at that time,” he recalls, admitting he was just looking to enjoy the great outdoors and more time with his pals. Then, in high school he earned Eagle Scout status and says he never stopped relying on the values he learned early.
“If you set a goal, you can achieve it… to be able to have that confidence was one of the things I experienced,” says Lee.
After college, the Boy Scouts would become Lee’s career. Even after retiring, he still volunteers.
“[I] still feel like it’s still a benefit to young people.” And when asked about how his continued commitment to scouting and its values helps him? “The satisfaction of seeing young people grow up into people of character.”
And he didn’t have to look far to find them.
“Our two sons are eagles, our daughter married an eagle, she has a son that’s an eagle… our other son has a son that’s an eagle,” says Lee—adding that scouting is definitely a “family thing.” Oh, yes, the girls were active in scouting as well.
“The songs, the smell of the campfire… the s’mores,” says Lee, all bring back wonderful memories. He and his wife, Jerry, have finally slowed down a bit. They recently joined the Presbyterian Village North retirement community and say they take advantage of opportunities to exercise regularly. After all, that promise included physical fitness!
Over the years, the Boy Scouts organization has endured its critics. It has bent under the winds of change. And yet, Lee insists that teaching young people to live with integrity and character, should not be controversial.
“The country would be better off.”
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