Honored Scout welcomes challenges as Order of Arrow national chief

MILLSBORO – Scouting has encompassed Matt Parsons’ life ever since he was a toddler.

“I started way back in Cub Scouts, the very first level which was Tiger Scout — way back when,” said Mr. Parsons. “I’ve been in the program for 13 years now, most of my life.”

His life in scouting took a challenging and opportunistic turn in late December when in Dallas Tx., at a national planning meeting, the 19-year-old Millsboro resident was selected National Chief of the Order of the Arrow. It’s the highest of six positions in the Order of the Arrow, which is the Boy Scouts of America’s national honor society.

“It encompasses the entire Boy Scouts of America program. I represent the almost 200,000 people,” said Mr. Parsons. “And I also have a say and have a voice on the national executive board, in which I represent everyone in the Scouts USA program, almost two million youths. The Order of the Arrow was just formally Boy Scouts or Scouting USA’s honor society. But now it is going to encompass the whole nine yards; Venturing, the Sea Scouting program and Scouts BSA.”

The Order of the Arrow extends beyond America’s borders.

“It encompasses the entire Boy Scouts of America program. There are Boy Scouts of America programs in Germany, all around world, primarily at military bases,” said Mr. Parsons. “We do some of our pro-grams in Germany, in Puerto Rico. I was in Puerto Rico last March.”

As national chief, Mr. Parsons’ chief responsibilities include representing youth in the Order of the Ar-row on the National Order of the Arrow Committee as well as the youth national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America.

“I will travel, spreading the word of scouting around the nation, trying to inspire kids, which is a great opportunity for me. Also, I am in charge of making sure that the section chiefs that were in Dallas that were assigned to different committees, that they stay on task,” Mr. Parsons said. “This year, our main priority has kind of switched to our local programs, helping them thrive, helping them grow in mem-bership and reduce this downward membership decline we’ve been having in the past.”

Mr. Parsons is an Eagle Scout. He achieved that honor in 2014 through Boy Scout Troop 382, following the Eagle Scout trail blazed by his older brother, Sam Parsons.

“My brother went before me. He got his at 17. I knew that I could not wait as long as he did,” said Mr. Parsons. “Without a doubt, scouting has molded me and made into the person that I am today. And I would not be ‘me’ if it was not for scouting. It has been a huge influence in my life. It has taught me many things.”

A Vigil Honor member from Nentego Lodge, Mr. Parsons has served as section chief and section vice chief of Section NE-6A, Order of the Arrow, which is the Del-Mar-Va Council of scouting.

A 2017 graduate of Sussex Technical High School, Mr. Parsons is studying architectural engineering at Delaware Technical Community College. He plans to graduate this coming May.

The son of Betsy Murray and Kevin Parsons, Mr. Parsons plans to continue his education in the archi-tectural engineering field, hopefully at the University of Maryland or University of Virginia.

Boy Scouts, of course, is no longer a boys-only organization.

“They made that decision at the very end of the 2017 going into 2018, that girls could join the Cub Scouting units. And now at the beginning of this year they can join the Boy Scouting units, and also the honor society,” said Mr. Parsons. “They are opening it up; the Sea Scouts, which is already a co-ed pro-gram, and the Venturing, which is already a co-ed program.”

Mr. Parsons, who currently works at Baker’s Hardware in Millsboro and Ocean View-based G.A. Has-tings & Associates architectural firm, eagerly looks forward to his year as national chief.

“It is indescribable – to be so humbled and so honored to be elected by my peers, once again to serve and represent Boy Scouts across the nation. It is a huge opportunity. It’s one that still hasn’t quite hit me yet. And I don’t know when it will. It is something that is unreal and hard to fathom,” said Mr. Par-sons. “Of course, from that moment forward you are in charge of taking over the rest of the event in Dallas, at that point it is like drinking from a fire hose!”

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