Jon Sprague has lived a very interesting life.
After growing up in Minnesota, he moved to New York to attend acting school. He worked all kinds of jobs. He even developed a talent for drawing pictures of superheroes.
What sparked his confidence to pursue new interests and explore the possibilities of life?
“I’ve been in Scouting since youth,” Jon says. “It’s why I can do a lot of the things that I do today. Those skills that I learned as a Scout helped me in being a stranger in a strange land and becoming personable and kind with people.”
After meeting his wife and starting their family, life brought the Spragues to North Carolina. One of their sons was interested in Scouting because of a friend, and Jon’s wife found a local Cub Scout pack on beascout.org. They signed up their two oldest sons. (A third has since joined, and their youngest eagerly awaits his turn to be a Lion Cub this fall.)
“I was happy because these boys were now getting to learn better people skills, better organizational skills, and life lessons like how to be a good citizen,” Jon says.
Jon became involved as an adult volunteer and has taken on various roles. He applies his own special skill set, like his acting background and “ready-for-anything” personality. Even at times when his sons have taken a break, Jon remains.
His reason is simple. “There’s a look that a kid gets in his eyes when he’s having a good time,” Jon says. “When a kid you know who’s been a part of the program you’re working with just ‘gets it,’ you know that that’s going to go someplace in a future.”
Jon recently saw that “look” turn into action. “A boy at our meeting wanted to get up in front of everybody and ask them to do something for his birthday,” he says. “He wanted everyone in the pack to bring canned food so that he could give it away. He’s learning what we want them to learn, and he has fun doing it.”
But there are other reasons, too. “It’s fun for me,” Jon says. “It’s fun to sing the songs and to meet new people. It’s a safe haven for people to learn to become themselves, and I want that for the kids.”
Jon also wants each youth to know what’s possible. “You are a boy who’s going to become a man, and you can do it through all of these activities, whatever ones you want to do. But you have to lead, as well, because that’s important.”
He knows it first-hand. “Right now I’m at a point in life where I’m doing well enough in my job that I don’t need to fret, and I’ve got enough little side projects going because I’ve got the free time to do it,” Jon says. “That’s because I got the chance to be me as a kid.”
Jon’s best Scouting memories of becoming who he is today revolve around summer camp in Minnesota. “It was so much fun, and there was so much to do,” he says. “It wasn’t just about earning merit badges or being at the boating lake for your schedule. It was about hanging out with your buddies, going fishing, hanging out on the raft, and watching the stars or the lightning hit the lake. The images of being on top of those climbing towers or sitting in a canoe or the first time I got to sail will always be there. And I will never forget.”
Being a Scout taught Jon to embrace who he is and pay it forward to others, and today he gets to help the next generation form their own life-long memories. If you would like to begin your Scouting journey visit the Old North State Council Website and click on “Join” or call 336 378-9166 for more information.