July 11, 2015. That was the day I met William. I was ten at the time when I met him. I had arrived earlier that day at TL Storer, a Boy Scout camp in New Hampshire. When I arrived with my troop and had set up camp, we went to do archery. During our round of archery, I failed miserably, and I felt discouraged. Then, a father and his timid son came and sat by me. They were very friendly and told me that his name was Robert and his son’s name was William. Throughout the rest of the week, I got to know William and his father. William was a timid but bright child with unyielding motivation to work hard and to learn. When we met, he was working on his Eagle Scout, the most prestigious rank in the Boy Scouts. It takes many years of dedication to achieve it, and many scouts end up not getting it. He always wanted to improve himself and he inspired me to work just as hard. I worked on my Eagle before meeting William, but his determination motivated me to work harder.
William and I became very good friends, always talking about what badge we should complete next. Finally, on the 8th of December, 2016, William received his Eagle Scout at the age of 13, a remarkable achievement considering the average age for the award is 17. On that day, I promised him that I would be next and that he would see me on the stage just like how I had done that day. However, my promise was only partially true. I would later get my Eagle Scout on October 17th, 2017, but William would not be there to see it. William passed away on June 6th, 2017. This would be a devastating loss for me. Throughout most of my elementary and middle school years, I did not have a lot of friends, so after losing William, I often felt lost since I did not have a close friend to confide in.
Throughout the rest of sixth grade, I often felt like I acted irrationally and not how I would truly want to act. I remember one time at the end of sixth grade during class someone said a joke that was quite offensive and not funny and I began hysterically laughing. I would also put unreasonably high standards for myself because that is what William would want from me. I would be disappointed in myself when I did not reach these standards, thinking that William would have done better. However, before I got my Eagle Scout on October 17, 2017, I had to do my Eagle Scout Board of Review, an interview to truly see if the person receiving the award deserved it and followed the guidelines of scouting in their everyday lives.
To my surprise, William’s father, Robert, was there. This interview with Robert was very reassuring. I had finally gotten my Eagle Scout, and I felt like I had satisfied William, even if he was no longer with me. I began to feel like I could move on. This was further complemented by my Eagle Scout Court of Honor in December, a ceremony where the recipient of the Eagle Scout receives their patch to commemorate their achievements. Even though the person who truly pushed me on until the very end was not there, I was surrounded by many others who supported me. I had made many other friends during my years in scouting, and they were all there for me. I came to accept what had passed. I began to act independently and did not worry as much about what others thought of me. I also began to accept that I will mess up, just like everyone else, including William. I still often think about William, but I now live for myself, and not others’ expectations of me.
© Nicholas Enbar-Salo. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.