University student delivers Report to the Nation in Washington D.C.
March 17, 2015
On an average day, Peter Schmidt, sophomore in Engineering, goes to classes and participates in the Illinois Sailing Team and service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.
But on Feb. 21, Schmidt was one of 10 youth members of the Boy Scouts of America to speak with top U.S. officials in Washington D.C.
Since 1916, the Boy Scouts of America has delivered an annual Report to the Nation, where scouts explain what they accomplished in the past year. Supervisors nominate and select accomplished young members from around the country to deliver the report.
Schmidt, who is the national sea scout boatswain (junior president), was nominated by his supervisor Keith Christopher, the national director of the Sea Scouts and national director of Outdoor Programming and Properties for the Boy Scouts of America.
Christopher said he nominated Schmidt because of his ability to lead and communicate.
“Peter has always had a way about him where he can stand in front of a group and talk about programs, commitment, leadership and responsibility,” Christopher said. “He just emulates those traits that are important when we are talking about representing our young people.”
Schmidt and the other members were chosen out of the organization’s 2.4 million members between the ages of 7 and 21. The other members who attended were Stephen Buttolph, Alex Call, Mason Hakes, Lucas Hines, Jillian Infusino, Jonathan Johnson, Kenneth Shinozuka, Dallin Stevens and Sebastian Zuleta.
Members were chosen from states across the country, including New Hampshire, California, Georgia, Texas and New York. The group even includes a female member, Jillian Infusino, national venturing vice president from Whittier, California, and eight-year-old Mason Hakes, a scout from Corning, New York.
Schmidt said his favorite part of the experience was visiting the Pentagon and meeting people in Congress such as Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. He said Durbin was especially interested that Schmidt attends the University.
Schmidt also said he enjoyed meeting Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, who gave them a personal tour of the House chamber. Alex Call, the selected member from Texas and national chief of the Order of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts, agreed, saying it was an experience he would never forget. “Leaders from both sides of the aisle and every branch of government were so excited to see that scouting is still serving our country … (and) still doing good things in the community,” Call said. “Peter represents so much of what scouting hopes to embody in young people. He is incredibly organized, he is poised and well put-together.”
In addition to his recent honor of representing the Scouts in D.C., Schmidt has earned the Quartermaster Award, Venturing Silver Award, Eagle Scout Award, Long Cruise Award, Qualified Seaman Award and Venturing Leadership Award.
He also served on the staff at the 2014 Koch International Sea Scout Cup in Long Beach, California, as part of his position as national sea scout boatswain. Call said that Schmidt has already been ambitious during his term.
“(He) really gives and speaks a lot about what scouting tries to instill in people, and that is a sense of drive and a sense of motivation and perseverance,” he said.
Originally from Springfield, Illinois, Schmidt first became a cub scout when he was 6 years old.
Schmidt said he moved up to Boy Scouts and then entered Venturing, a program for young adults ages 13 to 20 that helps them develop their leadership skills and special interests as they transition into adulthood. It was through Venturing that he was chosen as the national sea scout boatswain.
Schmidt said his favorite part of the Boy Scouts is the adventure and friends that come with it.
“I have friends from all across the country that I’ve met from traveling and sailing,” he said. “I’ve met people from literally all over the world.”
Schmidt said he plans to use his scouting skills in his future career in some sort of youth development. In addition to engineering classes, he is minoring in Leadership Studies.
“I’m getting the engineering degree because that’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but more and more (I’m becoming interested in) something else,” he said.
Schmidt said others should get involved in the Boy Scouts programs because they will learn a lot.
“I like to say that you go to learn something you get a lot out of,” Schmidt said. “You learn a lot about yourself and others, but … at the same time, there’s a ton of adventure.”
Schmidt and the others will meet again soon at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting in Atlanta on May 20 to 22.
“I think the Report to the Nation was a great introduction,” Call said. “So we are very excited to see each other at the meeting.”
In the meantime, Schmidt will continue his duties as the national boatswain, flying around the country to various events and working with Christopher.
“He’s just a fine young man that is a great person to know and be around; he loves to work hard and loves to have fun,” Christopher said. “And that’s the most important part to life. You have those that all they believe is having fun and those that are all about work. But he’s a good cross section of both.”