Alumni Spotlight: Blake Stephens, Gold Award Holder

In our Alumni Spotlight series, we highlight outstanding Award Holders and share their experience. We hope to celebrate their accomplishments and inspire others in the Award family.

For our Fall 2023 Spotlight, we will hear from Blake Stephens, a Gold Award Holder living in Mukwonago, Wisconsin.

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am currently attending college at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, majoring in geology. When I am not studying for school, I am either volunteering my time with the Scouts or tending to my duties as a Marine. I joined Scouts because of my hobbies of exploring outside, camping, hiking, and staying active. Once I graduate from UWW, I plan to use my education to become an officer in the United States Coast Guard.

What were your activities and goals for your Award Level?

Voluntary Service: Serving as a volunteer adult leader for my local Scouting unit

Skills: Honing my marksmanship and learning the German language

Physical Recreation: Strength and High Intensity Interval Training

Adventurous Journey: Hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Gold Project: Leadership training through Wood Badge, a course offered to Scouting volunteers

What did you learn about yourself through the Award?

During my pursuit of this award, I learned invaluable lessons in resilience and dedication. Partway through my journey, I had to say goodbye to my initial Award Leader and begin anew with another tremendous mentor. While this transition might not pose a challenge for many Award Participants, my journey with the virtual program meant that I worked closely with my mentor in a one-on-one capacity. However, I prevailed by following a personal mantra: “When life closes a door, breach the wall!” Through navigating and surmounting these adversities, I deepened my understanding of how to cultivate resilience.

Would you recommend the Award to others? If so, why?

I would and already have! I’ve encouraged numerous friends to embark on this program to realize its bountiful benefits, much like I did. The Award program imparts essential skills crucial for success in both personal and professional spheres to all of its Participants. Achieving this Award sets an individual apart, showcasing their ability to take initiative and emerge as a leader within their community. It is a prestigious achievement that instills a profounds sense of confidence in everyone who earns any Level of this Award.

Do you have any tips or advice to share with Award Participants and Alumni?

Go fast. Go slow. It does not matter, just go. During my time in the Marine Corps, I gained the values of dedication and persistence. Progress requires a consistent, determined effort. Perhaps you’re familiar with the tale of The Tortoise and the Hare; it serves as a reminder that no matter how fast or slow one works towards the race, ultimately the one that keeps a steady, consistent pace will win it all. Don’t let the swift progress of others deter you from your own path. You will achieve what you initially set out to do, but only if you keep working towards your goals. I charge every current and prospective Participant to work towards goals that make you happy. Always bear in mind that happiness is a way of travel, not the destination. Enjoy your time earning this Award and all the activities you do to complete your goals. Do not focus too much on the end product, because then you lose sight of what is happening in the moment and what gives you joy. Dedicate yourself to both your happiness and unwavering commitment as you journey forward.

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