A few years into Scouting, I came across a youth organization at my local Sheriff’s Department in California called the Sheriff’s Explorers. I found out that the Boy Scouts of America sponsors the Explorer program, so I looked into it. I started going to the trainings and ride-alongs with an open mind to see what it was all about. Shortly into the program, I realized I wanted to have a career in law enforcement.
Immediately, I became fascinated with what police officers really do. Often, TV shows like COPS only portray the most exciting, action-packed police work. However, these shows don’t do justice for what the men and women of law enforcement do every day. I learned that being a cop is not all glamorous. Not every shift includes tackling a bad guy onto the pavement. Sure, there are many exciting things about being a cop or law enforcement Explorer. I eventually got to be in a patrol car going 120 mph to a bank robbery, arrest a shoplifter, and serve a restraining order in a homeless camp. We did practice scenarios on arrests and searches, self defense, and traffic stops. We toured maximum security prisons and county jails to see what it was really like on the inside.
On the other hand, I’ve also spent a whole 11-hour shift on ride-along without going on a single call. There were days when we did hours and hours of parking duty and crosswalk control at public events as volunteers. I realized that being a cop might look glamorous and exciting because of the TV shows. In reality, it requires being alert and ready for anything to happen, even if nothing happens your whole shift. Even if the work seems boring, I learned that one can take pride in knowing he or she is serving the community. For me, that makes it all worth it.
Another thing I learned as a Sheriff Explorer is that I can do hard things. Together our post took part in an 8-day leadership academy, much like a military bootcamp. Over that week, we went through grueling physical fitness training every day. We ran miles and miles, did hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups, and army crawled in wet grass and sand. The drill sergeants woke us up early in the morning by throwing trash cans on the barrack floors. Then, we had inspections for clean rooms and tidy uniforms. I learned that I could endure hard discipline, and keep on going even when I wanted to give up.
Just as Scouts implement what they learn in Boy Scouting to their hobbies and outdoor skills, Exploring will teach you a wealth of skills that you can use in a future career. The valuable skills and attributes I learned in Scouting, which Exploring enhanced, I still today. I currently work as a security guard, and every day I use those skills I learned in Exploring. I use radios every day, I’m expected to maintain a neat uniform, and I respond to calls about suspicious behavior and confront these individuals. What I learned in Scouting and Exploring years ago still helps me in my career today, and it will help me in my future as a cop.