Speech: Boy Scouts Report to State (2/6/2016)

Thank you all for having me here today and thank you for those excellent presentations and the great work you all do at home in your communities!

I’m honored to join you for the 67th Report to State, as you all celebrate the 105th year of the founding of the Boy Scouts.

Sticking around for 100 years is a pretty remarkable achievement, and I think it’s only fitting that today’s theme is “Out of the Past and Into the Future.”

You know, speaking of the past, it wasn’t too long ago that I was about your age… well it doesn’t feel like it was too long ago anyway!

The world was certainly a different place back then – our telephones just made calls, they didn’t fit in your pocket or take pictures!

Back then our TV’s didn’t have quite so many channels and our music sounded a little different, and the only Facebook we had was the year book we passed around before summer vacation.

But it was a great way to grow up.

I’m from a small town you all have probably never even heard of called DeLeon.

Aside from going to school, going to church and doing my chores, I passed the time outside.

I was a Scout myself – I got to the Life Scout level – and I started competing in rodeos. In fact, I still do!

The love of the outdoors, the skills I gained as a Scout and the friendships I made served me well. So when I had sons, they became involved in Scouting too.

And that is exactly why Scouting is such a valuable experience.

Generations of young men before you have honed the same skills, built their character, and recited the same solemn oath.

You probably get sick of hearing this every day from your Scout masters, and your parents, and your teachers, that the values and skills you learn today through Scouting will serve you for the rest of your lives.

And they are absolutely right.

That’s because Scouting is timeless. Being courteous, being prepared, giving back to your communities will never go out of style.

And that’s a good thing in the world we live in today.

So much around us is changing day to day and year to year.

Technology has made life easier but it’s removed us from the outdoors, it’s connected the world but disconnected us from our neighbors and our communities.

Scouting is a reminder that the values and skills of yesterday are still important today.

In fact, that’s one of the things agriculture and Scouting have in common.

They both emphasize hard work, integrity, personal responsibility, respect for the land and for nature, confidence and faith.

And while the modern age that we live in might lead some to say that farming and ranching are things of the past, like they might say that Scouting is a thing of the past, that courtesy and ethics and faith and family values are things of the past, our world would be a very different and difficult place without them.

They are our foundations – they are critical to our daily lives and our society.

And they stand the test of time. That’s why over 100 years later, Scouting continues to thrive.

With some small differences of course. There weren’t too many merit badges for computers or digital technology back when I was in the Scouts. 

But that is why this is such a fantastic organization for young men to be part of.

And it’s why so many of our leaders in this state and across the country – even at the Texas Department of Agriculture – are proud alumni of Scouting.

Seeing you all today, hearing your reports and all of the things you have accomplished in your communities through Scouting, gives me confidence that our state is in good hands.

So congratulations on another fantastic year in Scouting.

And as I close, I will leave you with this:

No matter the situation, no matter the circumstance, let your faith be your guide, and when in doubt, remember the words of the oath: to do your duty to God and your country, to help other people at all times, and to keep yourself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Thank you all again for having me here today. God bless you, God bless the Boy Scouts, and God bless the great state of Texas.