Many years ago, I joined Boy Scout Troop 241 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was one of the most rewarding and difficult experiences of my life. Finally, I achieved the highest Boy Scout honor, that of becoming an Eagle Scout. It took a lot of hard work and determination.
My time in the Scouts, however, had a great effect on my life. You know, back then, over sixty years ago, scouting was different from what it is today. I was a city kid and I was working on my merit badges and I had no place to camp out. So, to get camping merit badge, I had to sleep out 50 nights. Where was I going to do that? Well, my folks helped me buy a tent and I put it in the backyard and out of my fifty nights, I think forty of them were backyard nights. But I slept out and I was able to qualify for that merit badge.
Back then, too, we had to see forty different birds. I can't tell you how many bird walks I went on around Washington, D.C. to try to spot all those birds, but I finally got my forty.
The toughest part, however, comes back to camping merit badge when I had to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. I had to create a spark from those two sticks and then put a little tinder, blow on it and get the fire started. Well I worked and worked and worked in front of my counselor on those two sticks and almost passed out - finally getting that little spark going and blowing it into that pile of tinder and getting the fire started. That was probably the single most difficult part of being a scout - camping merit badge.
Scouts are still a great part of my life. All three of my sons have become Eagle Scouts, as has my son-in-law and five of my grandsons so far. I have a lot of fond memories of my time in scouting and seeing my sons and grandsons grow up in scouting is a great thrill.
Boy Scouts are very important to me. I want other boys to get the most out of scouting and enjoy their time learning many of the same lessons I did. That's why we established Camp Marriott in Goshen, Virginia. Scouts go there to camp and participate in many other outdoor activities to earn their merit badges.
It's not just the boys in our family that are active in the Scouts. Three of my granddaughters were Girl Scouts. Our company also actively supports the Girl Scouts. Partnering with the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation's Capital here in Washington, D.C. we have created a program to help prepare a diverse group of these young girls for careers in the hospitality industry. In fact, we are going to be hosting a career day we are calling the "Hospitality Hotshots" for Cadet-level Girl Scouts in the Washington, D.C. area very soon.
I'm always excited to have former Scouts come work for Marriott because I know the lessons they've learned from scouting, such as leadership and teamwork, will make them great employees for our company.
I'm Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.