Being Prepared and Beyond

By Gretchen Eichenberg

Why 27 local boys graduated high school as Eagle Scouts in 2011

Every Every year hundreds of thousands of boys around the world don crisp Boy Scout uniforms decorated with badges that show they can make fires, tie knots and perform first aid. They attend troop meetings, ceremonies and dozens of campouts where they learn valuable skills, build meaningful relationships and have fun. They strive to live the Scout Oath. They promise to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. And they are, of course, prepared.

Out of all those thousands of boys, according to Boys Scouts of America, only about five percent will earn the highest advancement rank in Scouting: Eagle Scout. In 2010, 56,176 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle Scout. From 1912 to 2010, more than two million Boy Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank.

“Every boy that I have encountered that has earned the Eagle Scout has been a young man of exceptional character, determination and a strong work ethic,” said Clint Flatt, Scoutmaster of Troop 70 in Mexia. “These young men stand out from others because they want to help others, they want to improve themselves and they are concerned citizens of the community and country.”

Larry Tarver, Scoutmaster of Troop 436, agrees.

“It is impressive each time a young man makes the rank of Eagle Scout,” he said. “The fact that so many have made the rank of Eagle Scout is a sign of the values and the involvement that the parents have in their children’s lives here in Central Texas.”

In the last five years, the number of Scouts who achieved the rank of Eagle is on the rise, according to Ellie Morrison, assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 308 at First United Methodist Church in Waco.

“In the 1950s boys joined Scouting as an activity, something fun to do,” she said. “Now they join as a challenge and a goal they want to achieve in life. Many join with the intention of earning Eagle Scout, and they do it.”

Seasoned Eagle Scouts are quick to point out how much the rank and the training and dedication it requires has served them well, both in their academic, business and personal lives.

“When a college or employer is looking for a good candidate, they are looking for leadership,” said Michael Pilgrim, Eagle Scout and district executive for the Indian Nations division of the Longhorn Council of Boy Scouts of America in Waco. “Eagle Scout shows that a young man developed leadership skills from a young age and had the tenacity to follow through. Also, in my own life, I’ve had to make some tough decisions about careers and such. Whenever I have a decision to make, if I apply the [Boy Scout] oath and the law, I know everything is going to work out for the best.”

To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must progress through the ranks in the following order: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, Eagle. He must earn 21 merit badges, which include camping, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, emergency preparedness or lifesaving, environmental science, family life, first aid, personal fitness, personal management and a choice of cycling, hiking or swimming. He must serve six months in a troop leadership position. He must plan, develop and give leadership to a service project for any religious organization or any school or community need. He must take part in a Scoutmaster conference. And, finally, he must successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review.

Some of these requirements take months, even years, to complete. So it’s easy to see why only five percent of boys earn their Eagle Scout and why the ones who do are held in highest esteem by their peers and the people they meet throughout their lives.

“Because the requirements are the same across the nation and have been relatively unchanged since the ‘60s, all Eagle Scouts travel the same journey, but each in our own unique way,” Flatt said. “Eleven of the 21 merit badges are required to be earned by every Eagle Scout, plus serving in a leadership position in the troop and planning, leading and completing a project consisting of many hours. But how they achieve these requirements and the additional 10 merit badges are each Eagle Scout’s personal journey.”

This year 27 young men graduated high school in McLennan County with the rank of Eagle Scout under their belts. Boys from various backgrounds and ethnicities, different schools and interests and greatly diverse life experiences all worked toward the common goal of earning an Eagle Scout. Here’s what they — along with their parents and Scoutmasters — said about what Scouting has added to their lives.

Real Life Skills

From fire building to lifesaving to automotive maintenance, Scouts know how and can do.

“Aside from learning how to make a fire, tie knots, basic first aid and other useful skills, Boy Scouts has taught me to be a man of character and integrity. My journey from Cub Scout to Eagle has helped me make lifelong friends and has helped me grow into a better Christian and citizen.”
Charlie Bussell, Troop 497
2011 Midway High School graduate entering Baylor University

“In auto mechanics I learned about car engines and metalwork. I learned how to work with metals.”
Roderick A. Chacon, Troop 308
2011 Reicher High School graduate entering Texas A&M University

“The skills of patience and perseverance, along with the skills mentioned in the Scout Law, are, without a doubt, going to stick with me for the rest of my life. These life skills will help me to cope with dealing with people and situations.”
Ryan Fite, Troop 70
2011 Mexia High School graduate entering The University of Texas at Austin

“Personal management is the badge I will use most in life. It is an Eagle required merit badge, and it taught me about finance and accounting and why it is important to keep track of it.”
Riley DuPuy, Troop 308
2011 Vanguard College Preparatory School graduate entering Texas A&M University

“One of my favorite badges was the lifesaving merit badge. I earned it in sixth grade and was one of the youngest ones in the group. It was tough keeping up with the older guys in the group but very rewarding when I finally completed all of the requirements. One of the requirements was jumping in the water with clothes on, taking off your jeans while treading water, tying knots in the legs of the pants, filling them with air and using them as floatation devices. Although it sounds really funny, it was one of the more important things that I learned in water safety. Probably the most important thing I have learned in Scouting is leadership. Serving as Troop leader for a large group is very unappreciated, especially among guys your own age and older. It definitely taught me to chose leadership positions wisely and not jump into a position because it seems like a cool thing.”
Garner Millard, Troop 497
2011 Midway High School graduate entering Baylor University

“The small-boat sailing merit badge would have to be my favorite merit badge. Although I’ve enjoyed many others, by far, sailing was the most fun and memorable. I got to pioneer a sailboat with good friends out on the lake, and the material we were required to learn was interesting. Being involved in Scouting has taught me independence, leadership and responsibility, especially in my later years of Scouting.”
Matthew Williams, Troop 497
2011 Midway High School graduate entering University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

“I learned about auto mechanics at the TSTC merit badge college. It was my favorite because I learned things that I can use on a regular and routine basis. Plus we practiced on a brand new Dodge Viper. Also, I have repeatedly been taught the importance of being prepared and planning ahead, planning even enough so that when the plan may have to change for a reason out of our control, we can still be in control and know what to do. I also learned how to prepare different types of meals.”
Beau Bolfing, Troop 308
2011 Reicher Catholic High School graduate entering Texas Tech University

“Scouting has developed my character into the person I am today. I find that my word is one of the most important aspects of my character, and part of that comes from Scouting.”
Jacob Oatman, Troop 497
2011 Midway High School graduate entering Texas Christian University


Boy Scouts take amazing trips — both near and far — braving the elements and learning how to survive in diverse environments and ecosystems.
“My Northern Tier trip in Bissett, Manitoba was my most memorable trip. I had the largest sense of accomplishment upon completing my trek. We traveled through rivers of water and mud while canoeing and portaging with everything we needed for a week on our backs.”
Matthew Williams, Troop 497

“The most memorable trip would be the Northern Tier canoe trip in Canada because very few people get the chance to be in such a remote location. We saw more bald eagles than people for that week. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be in a place that was free from human change and in a completely natural state. There aren’t many places on this planet one can go where nature is uncorrupted and pure. The most fun I had on a trip, though, would be Sea Base in the Florida Keys because we were able to snorkel over beautiful reefs and deep-sea fish. For that week and a half we stayed on a small island, which included sleeping on the white sand beach on top of inflatable pool rafts and eating mahi-mahi, which we caught.”
Beau Bolfing, Troop 308

“My most memorable trip with my troop was when we went to a campout in Valley Mills during the winter. Our troop gathered with other troops in our district for patrol competitions. The weather started out great with just a cool temperature. Overnight I remember padding my sleeping bag with layers and layers of clothes because I felt I was freezing like a Popsicle. When I got out of my tent in the morning I saw snow everywhere. Although I was cold, the competitions went on, and I gave them everything I had. I’m not the type of person who likes to lose. In the end, all the awards Troop 70 won was worth freezing.”
Ryan Fite, Troop 70

“Sea Base, a high adventure camp in Florida, where we lived on a sailboat for a week and went scuba diving at least twice a day, was my most memorable trip with the Scouts. Fourteen other Scouts went, and the spring before we all learned to scuba dive. I was able to touch my first shark.”
­­ Jacob Oatman, Troop 497

“Camp Constantin in Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas. I had the best time with my friends. It was the week of the Fourth of July, and they offered a lot of water activities, like canoeing, swimming and even a raft race. I really got to relax with all my buddies, have fun and compete with other troops. I got a lot of merit badges and had fun earning them.”
Roderick A. Chacon, Troop 308

“My most memorable trip was probably an expedition to Sea Base High Adventure Camp with many close friends and my father. We got to scuba dive around the reefs of the Florida Keys, and when we weren’t diving we were on a boat in the open ocean, which was a truly awesome experience.”
Charlie Bussell, Troop 497

“I really enjoyed a high adventure trip with my dad to Northern Tier — a canoe trip in the boundary waters of Canada. We had always spent a lot of time together, between hunting expeditions and sports, but I really liked what we accomplished on that trip.”
Lee Bristow, Troop 497
2011 Midway High School graduate entering Baylor University

“My favorite Scouting trip was going to Sea Base Camp in Key West on a scuba dive. We spent a week on two small boats in the ocean, taking dive after dive. My dad was along for the trip, as well as a couple of my best friends. The memory is special for me because of all of the fun I had, but also because I had the opportunity to experience it with my dad, who was a big support in my Scouting career.”
Garner Millard, Troop 497

An Eagle Scout’s dedication is not up for debate. It’s evident by the requirements they meet, the goals they achieve and the time it takes to do it all.
“The swimming merit badge was the most challenging merit badge for me. I knew I had to earn it or else I wasn’t going to be an Eagle Scout. My first swim test was nerve-wrecking because I saw the other guys just breeze by their tests, so I thought it would be easy. I was wrong because I jumped into the water and went straight to the bottom of the pool and stayed there until I figured out how to move to the surface. Since then I took an instructional swim class and worked diligently on my swimming techniques until I was ready to do the merit badge. After I attained the merit badge I was so excited, and I realized I really could do anything if I wanted.”
Ryan Fite, Troop 70

“The toughest part for me was attending Monday night meetings every week when all I wanted to do was stay home and watch Monday Night Football. It was a good thing my mother wouldn’t let me.”
Jacob Oatman, Troop 497

“One of the final requirements for me was the Eagle Scout project. This was a significant challenge because I had to organize other Scouts and lead them toward a common goal. There were many setbacks with my project, but, ultimately, it looked great and, more importantly, was finished.”
Charlie Bussell, Troop 497

“The most challenging part was staying with it. It takes time and dedication and a lot of times there just wasn’t any time to do anything. Working weekends and practicing sports on the weekdays leaves a miniscule amount of time to work on a merit badge.”
Roderick A. Chacon, Troop 308

“I earned Eagle Scout the fall of my eighth grade year. I was playing football that fall, along with church and other community activities, so time was tight. Scout meetings were on Monday nights when football games were, so I had to change clothes in the car most weeks. I sat down with my parents and decided that Scouting and even becoming an Eagle Scout would be a goal that I wanted to achieve, and we just worked our schedules around it. In order to achieve any goal it has to be one of your top priorities.”
Garner Millard, Troop 497

Best Practices

Based on their experience as Eagle Scouts, here’s advice from some of this year’s graduating seniors to fellow young men — Scouts or not — about navigating the journey of life.

“Through sports, Boy Scouts and everyday experiences, it is easy to see that life can be difficult and oftentimes things will not go the way you had hoped for. No matter what, though, it is so important that you make the most of every situation, keep a positive attitude and learn from your mistakes. Also, remember that if you show respect you will receive respect. Having such good friends with me is one of the strongest forces that helped me pull through the challenging times in Scouts, so make friends and help each other. Too often life becomes an ‘every man for himself’ competition. Don’t be afraid to work together.”
Beau Bolfing, Troop 308

“Personal goals can be attained anywhere and in any organization. Scouting was my choice because it afforded me to have a lot of fun while helping me achieve goals I had in leadership and volunteering. Whichever perimeters you choose to work within, stay focused and work hard. It usually has a great pay-off.”
Garner Millard, Troop 497

“Do not let anyone force you to do things you do not want to do. Know your own limits and push them and follow your heart.”
Charlie Bussell, Troop 497

“The advice I would give other boys about achieving their goals, whether it be becoming an Eagle Scout or something else, is always have faith that you can overcome the obstacles in your way. Stay optimistic and remind yourself that it takes time to achieve your dreams. Surround yourself with positive people. Keep in mind that no matter where you came from, you decide your future by making responsible decisions for yourself. Also, raise yourself up by lifting up others instead of tearing them down.”
Ryan Fite, Troop 70

“Just stick with what you believe.”
Jacob Oatman, Troop 497

“Set personal goals and break them down. A goal can be huge, but you have to set a pace for yourself, take it easy and work one task at a time, and before you know it your goal will be one last step away. Stay strong and remember what you’re working for.”
Roderick A. Chacon, Troop 308
“Don’t procrastinate. Set small goals that will act as stepping stones for the overall goal. Seek guidance, and even when it looks daunting, do not give up.”
Matthew Williams, Troop 497

“There are a lot of things that you can get into as a kid — video games, sports, music — but spending time in Scouts will teach you things you will remember the rest of your life. It may seem old fashioned to your friends, but once you get into it you will really like it, especially all the outdoor stuff.
Lee Bristow, Troop 497

“Finish what you start, and you’ll be OK.”
Riley DuPuy, Troop 308
Parent’s Perspective

Most Eagle Scouts will tell you that earning the rank was made possible because of their family’s support. Here’s what some of the Class of 2011 parents said about the journey with their sons.

“We always tell people that Garner loved Scouting, and that it was easy to get him to go to meetings and on camping trips. The truth is Garner loved what Scouting made him. Through his many experiences, he grew in confidence in his abilities to do everyday skills.” Cindee Millard

“Our son was able to carry on many leadership roles as a result of his Scouting experience, such as patrol leader, student council president, Spanish club vice-president, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. He has gained self-confidence, built character and made many friends in all walks of life. He is very respectable, has a great personality, believes in God and is determined to make a difference in the world.” Farley Fite

“Through Scouting a young man learns teamwork, leadership, cooking, first aid, self-reliance, respect for others, goal setting, patriotism and so much more.” Stanton Bussell

“We never thought of the Eagle Scout rank as an unobtainable goal. So we set our sights on this objective and did not overcommit on other activities. You make choices in life and maintain your focus.” Lisa Oatman

“It has given him knowledge, self-esteem, confidence and helped him work with others. It enabled him to become a mentor and a leader in the community.” Geovana Chacon

“Matthew earned 30 merit badges. These gave him both knowledge and skills needed for everyday life. He went on three high adventure campouts that helped him with confidence. He made many close friendships in Scouting. We have been told that Scouting is all about building character while making it fun in the process. We have no doubt about this from seeing the character in our son.” Laura and Chuck Williams

“Great role models throughout his Scouting experience surrounded Beau. He saw people leading by example by doing things behind the scenes to make the Scouting experience successful. In addition, he learned skills that have made him a more well-rounded young man, including learning crucial communication skills and public speaking skills that carried him through high school and will have a great impact on his future.” Gerald Bolfing

“Scouting helped Riley tremendously with his leadership skills. He also saw wonderful, caring adults, like Scoutmaster Eddie Morrison, who gave and continue to give unselfishly of their time and talents. It’s my hope that one day he will give back to youth as these leaders gave to him. Riley has friends from Scouts that I have no doubt will remain friends for life.” LaRaine DuPuy

“We have three sons, and they are all Eagle Scouts. This has created a bond between the three boys and their father that will last a lifetime. Herb recently received the Silver Eagle award for his volunteer work in Scouts, and the boys were there to honor him as he was there for them all those years.” Lanita Bristow

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