Becoming an Eagle Scout is the ultimate, top honor. Most boy scouts never reach it because it takes years of dedication. In fact, only four percent of Boy Scouts complete the requirements.
Tonight, over 100 people are filling up the Holy Cross House at the Lutheran Church to recognize four young men who have earned their Eagle Scouts badge and medal: Van Abbott, Anders and Charlie Christensen, and Britton Erickson. They’re sitting at the front of the room wearing brown Boy Scout uniforms decorated with a few dozen bright badges.
Alan Murph is the Master of Ceremonies. He’s an Eagle Scout himself.
A younger boy scout troop presents the colors and light over a dozen candles that represent the scout law and different levels of scouts.
To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must complete about 325 different requirements. They include earning at least 21 merit badges, serve in troop leadership positions, spent at least 20 days and nights camping, know first aid, spend 12 hours on service projects as well as complete one large project that they plan, organize, and manage.
Petersburg police officer, Randy Holmgrain, who is also an Eagle Scout, explains more.
“The Eagle Scout is a good citizen,” Holmgrain said. “He’s been to city council meetings and knows the city government and knows how the city government is organized. He knows how to manage his money and knows the value of savings.”
Before awards are handed out, the four young men talk about their involvement with scouts and their fathers also make speeches.
Van Abbott says he is grateful for all of the support they have received from the community in reaching their goals.
“The road to Eagle was a long and challenging one,” Abbott said. “And I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it came with a lot of stress and sceptism. But one thing that I realize now looking back on it is that learning to overcome that apprehensiveness and sticking to our goals is of the most fundamental ideas of scouting.”
For his service project, Abbott removed tree stumps and built two yellow cedar picnic tables for the Catholic Church.
Charlie Christensen says he has enjoyed all the scouting adventures he has had growing up. He especially remembers one particular trip to the Yukon.
“One of my most cherished memories from scouting is when we were camping in Canada and we woke up to discover a team of sled dogs had broken into our food stores and eaten 20 pounds of our hamburger,” Christensen said.
The crowd has a good laugh.
For his main project, Christensen built a new bench at the Lutheran Church. His twin brother, Anders, built a new bench at the community garden near the school.
Britton Erickson built a playhouse at the Presbyterian Church. He says becoming an Eagle Scout wasn’t always easy and he had his doubts.
“There were many times that I just wanted to give up because I was too busy or I didn’t have the time,” Erickson said. “During one of these moments I remember my mom said to me, ‘Achieving Eagle Scout is supposed to be challenging. If were easy, everyone would be an Eagle Scout.’ Tonight, Van, Anders, Charlie and I join an elite group of people to accomplish this rank.”
Erickson’s dad, Jeff Erickson, has been a troop leader for a long time and an Eagle Scout himself.
“It’s really, truly amazing that four people would come through the same troop and get their Eagles all together,” Erickson said. “It doesn’t happen very often, you guys, and this is a very special moment and I’m glad you’re here to be with us.”
He then leads the scouts in taking their new oath.
The mothers of the new Eagle Scouts pin their medals on their uniforms and, in turn, the scouts present them and their fathers with pins.
It’s not over for the Eagle Scouts. They are expected to set an example for other Scouts and to become leaders in life.
“In the years to come you will gradually meet people who are Eagles too,” Murph said. “There will be an instant bond of comradeship, you have each shared a common experience and each know that the other can be trusted.”
Some famous Eagle Scouts include Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg, and President Gerald Ford.