This is a letter I wrote to the Chief Scout Exec. I think it's important we all be involved in this kind of thing.
May 18, 2011
Mr. Robert Mazzuca
Chief Scouting Executive
Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079
Dear Mr. Mazzuca:
I’m writing to you as a 6th generation miner, an Eagle Scout, a Merit Badge Counselor and a Day Camp Director.
I’m currently employed as a geologist in the mining industry. As a professional in the mining industry I would like to see the BSA “reinstate” the mining merit badge that my professional organization, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc. has been recommending for a number of years. I have been peripherally involved with its development.
As a professional geologist, I was curious to note the changes, some years ago, in the Geology Merit Badge. (It is severely lacking, in my opinion; the old requirements were much more well-rounded). When I do the Geology Belt Loop with our Cub Scouts and other local youth groups, I often explain to them that geology is related to almost all the other sciences and almost all the other sciences contribute to geology. Mining is dependent on geology and those same sciences, but in a more practical way. In many respects, it’s the hands-on version of geology and there are many careers (very well-paying careers) in mining.
I’m also somewhat distressed that Scouting has been for so long without a Mining Merit Badge. Mining is integral to EVERYTHING we do. You couldn’t dress in the morning, drive to work, flush the toilet, turn on the lights, eat fresh-baked bread, check your email, buy groceries at your local super-mart, get a life-saving medical procedure or do any of the many activities most people take for granted, without the support of mining. As the old saying goes, “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined”. (I might add that current farming techniques would be impossible without mining to support the manufacture of modern farming equipment and production of fertilizers). To help our Scouts be well-rounded and knowledgeable adults, we must train them to look at these things objectively and to understand the dependence their lives and lifestyles have on mining. They need to know where all this stuff comes from and how we turn it from raw materials into something useable.
I’ve been to many places in this great world and I’ve met few groups of people who are more in tune with the environment than miners. When we’re not mining, most of us are out enjoying nature. We are the ones that live next to these mines and we are the ones most concerned about maintaining the beauty of our homes. We are the people most dependent on maintaining sustainable use and production of resources. Mining isn’t a job for most of us, it’s a lifestyle.
One of the greatest thrills in life is finding something valuable. (Even if it’s only valuable in your own mind)! The thrill of finding a beautiful specimen or a small bit of something valuable can lead to a lifetime pursuit. (There’s a reason they call it gold fever! I’ve heard the same term applied to other minerals). I spent several hours a week ago with a young cub scout reviewing his collection of fossils. The only spectacular thing I saw that day was the enthusiasm my young friend has for his “mining” adventure. His specimens were only spectacular in his mind.
When I was a young scout, I really don’t recall safety being emphasized like it is now. When I was a young miner, I know we didn’t practice the same safety habits we now try to ingrain in workers. Our scouts today benefit from some hard lessons learned. The mining industry today is safer than it has ever been and I think scouts could benefit even more by associating with mine safety professionals. Most of the safety practices we advocate are relevant to life in general, not just mining.