Only four percent of males who join Boy Scouts go on to become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America program. Requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout include earning twenty-one different merit badges while working your way up through the different levels: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and finally Eagle.
Potential Eagle Scouts choose their twenty-one badges from a list of 124 that range from Archery to Bugling to Indian Lore, although twelve are on a required list.
Garrett Peebles, junior, said, “My favorite merit badge to earn was Basketweaving – we had to learn how to make a basket and then actually weave it. I still have it, actually.”
Alex Riciutti, junior, earned additional awards as he worked his way up to becoming an Eagle. “I earned the World Conservation Award; I had to earn two environmental science merit badges and a citizenship in the world badge.” Riciutti also earned the National Trails Award for visiting and helping refurbish a national historic site.
These opportunities to earn merit badges and awards, as well as the many years spent working their way up through the levels of Boy Scouts, show dedication and responsibility, making Eagle Scouts a widely-recognized honor. It is also a title that is held for life, leading to the phrase, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”
The journey culminates in a service project that the potential Eagle designs, leads and completes, usually with the help of their troop. Jake Joyner, senior, built benches at Leesville Elementary with the help of his troop. He said his motivation to become an Eagle Scout was his dad: “My dad never got to Eagle Scout – I wanted to beat him,” he said, laughing.
Riciutti also took on a large project. “I replaced two hundred boards in the Lake Lynn boardwalk. I ripped out the rotted boards and replaced them with boards I had cut to fit. The project probably took over two hundred hours total.”
So why do high school boys take on these daunting tasks? “It looks great on resumes and college applications,” said Joyner.
“Also, I couldn’t get my license until I became an Eagle Scout,” said Peebles.
No matter the motivation, the boys agreed that Eagle Scouts teaches great lessons about leadership and responsibility that they will be able to use throughout their lives. “It taught me to respect those around you and listen to what others have to say. You have to work with others to complete the requirements,” said Riciutti.