You can hear 17-year-old Paul Thao grin over the phone when he tells you it’s his first time to the nation’s capital.
“My very first time,” says Thao, of St. Paul. “I’m so happy to be here.”
The Harding High School junior is one of nine young delegates from across the United States to present the Boy Scouts of America’s annual report to top U.S. officials.
And yes, he realizes the irony: He’s in Washington, D.C. on a day when President Barack Obama is in St. Paul.
“That’s the sad part,” Thao says. “We’re here, and he’s over there.”
But he’s already toured the Capitol, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Pentagon, and dished with high-ranking officials, such as Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak. The group is also scheduled to visit the White House, along with the U.S. Cabinet, House, and Senate Leadership.
The boys will deliver the report, which highlights the organization’s achievements, to Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Thao is a Life Scout — one rank below Eagle — with Minnesota’s Boy Scout Troop 100, the state’s oldest all-Hmong-American troop, based at Westminster Church in downtown Minneapolis. He’s one of 12 children — four of whom are Boy Scouts.