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Congressional Eagles

Courtesy Office of Sen. Sherrod Brown
Astronaut, Eagle Scout and future Sen. John Glenn presides over the 1969 Eagle Scout ceremony of now-Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was then 16, at the Leland Hotel in Mansfield, Ohio.

"A Boy Scout troop is made up of a bunch of individuals that have individual goals, aspirations, dreams. They want to go their own way, but they're working together as a troop," he said. "It's just like that in Congress. We're a member of a team whether we're members of the Ohio delegation, Financial Services or of the Republican Conference. There's a whole bunch of groups that work together inside Congress to try to make America better."

Lesson No. 6: Persevere

It takes a great deal of time and effort to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, and it's easy to consider giving up in favor of some of the less demanding childhood experiences. Nevertheless, reaching the Eagle Scout rank taught many Members that the best things in life are those worth waiting for.

His time in the Scouts encouraged Rohrabacher never to give up, even later in life.

"When I reached Eagle Scout, the top rank, it gave me a great sense of accomplishment and it taught me to persevere," he said. "When I first ran for office, when I didn't have a chance, people tried to talk me out of it. I didn't let that happen. That perseverance kept me going long enough to win the election."

Dold said he learned to persevere at late-night Congressional votes from his time in Scouts.

"There were a lot of times when friends or others would say let's go out and go to the beach or go do something else," he said. "It requires you to stay focused and work on things that weren't as attractive to do then."

Lesson No. 7: Leave Things Better

Boy Scouts take pains to make sure they leave their campsites "better than they found them."

It's a lesson that Carnahan said some Members should take care to remember for their country.

"It was a great life lesson in terms of being really good stewards of the land and of the environment," he said. "You can apply the same to Congress, wanting to leave things better for future generations. That is clearly one of our big responsibilities."

Lesson No. 8: Network

Though it may not have taught them a lesson for lawmaking, the Boy Scouts did introduce Brown and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to some important figures.

The former met the husband of his future campaign manager when he failed a merit badge exam. The latter, who served in a troop with a young Josh Reid, took tours at the Capitol from his troopmate's dad, now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Merkley took a more practical networking tip from his lessons in the Scouts it was there he learned how to work the phones when he was put in charge of inviting 30 families to a Court of Honor ceremony.

"I decided I was going to personally call every parent of the troop," he said.

Lesson No. 9: Serve the Community

In the end, reaching the rank of Eagle Scout requires a great deal of time spent serving the community.

All the Members of Congress that Roll Call interviewed were quick to point out the similarities between their early public service and their current roles.

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