REEDSVILLE - My name is David Blehi, and I am 30 years old. I have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for practically my entire life, and I am proud to call myself an Eagle Scout.
I grew up in the very small town of Short Gap, W.Va., raised in a family with a wonderful mom and dad as well as two older sisters. My dad was part of the scouting program for a short time as a youth, but unfortunately never had the opportunity to continue through the program. It was because of my dad's knowledge of scouting and his desire to grow our relationship as father and son, as well as for me to grow as a person, that he took me to my first Cub Scout meeting at the age of 5. To this day it is still the best decision my parents ever made for me.
As a very shy boy - enough so that I didn't want to ask questions in school so as not to draw attention to myself - it was important for me to get involved in an organization that would afford me opportunities to learn new skills, meet new people and make new friends. The Boy Scouts of America did just that for me.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY DAVID BLEHI
David Blehi, front center, poses with a group of Boy Scouts who participated in the 2013 First Year Camper program at Seven Mountains Scout Camp.
As I got older and progressed through the scouting program, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, I was given opportunities to develop from a boy into a young man. I became active in other groups such as church, sports, academics and band, and I took active leadership rolls in each.
It was because of leadership through scouting that I searched for more opportunities to be a leader. Because of this, as a senior in high school, I became the captain of my soccer team, basketball team, track team, drumline in the marching band and a youth leader in my church.
The scouting movement means everything to me, because it gave everything to me. I have had some of the greatest experiences of my life as a scout. I have been to places I never thought I would go as a scout, and I have done things I never thought I would do as a scout. Most importantly, I became the man that my parents always hoped I would become because I was and still am a scout.
Boy Scouts of America's mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been shaping boys into young men, and those young men into great leaders within our communities, our country and the world.
The Boy Scouts of America has produced such notable Eagle Scouts as: Neil Armstrong, Hank Aaron, James Lovell, President Gerald Ford, Steven Spielberg and Sam Walton. Other notable men that benefited from the scouting movement are: Harrison Ford, Bill Gates, President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nolan Ryan, George Strait and Joe Theisman.
For more information about scouting and how to get involved, call the Juniata Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America at 667-9236. There are many opportunities available throughout the area that can help you find the right program for your son and family.
David Blehi is the senior district executive for the Juniata Valley Boy Scouts Council.