The Eagle Scout rank, if accomplished, is quite an achievement and highly valued. But the journey to becoming an eagle scout is not an easy one.
Boy scouts must rise through several levels — Scout, Tenderfoot, Second-class, First-class, Star, and Life — before even being considered as an Eagle nominee. As scouts rise through the ranks, they must earn 21 mandatory merit badges, which include: first aid, emergency preparedness, citizenship in the community, and personal management.
Scouts must also be active in their troop for a period of at least six months after achieving the rank of Life Scout. As well as demonstrating they live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives. The fight to become an Eagle Scout is one that is against the clock; all Eagle Scout requirements must be completed by the time a Scout turns 18.
One Leesville student who is taking this difficult trek is Alex Balla, a sophomore part of Troop #364.
Balla began Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts for younger children, in fourth grade. “I thought it would be a really cool thing to do,” said Balla. Two years later, he became a boy scout, officially beginning his scout career.
Now a Life Scout, Balla is working to achieve all Eagle Scout requirements. One of the biggest is completing an Eagle Scout project. Self-funded and self-planned, Balla built several benches and installed them with concrete footings at Endeavor Charter School’s memorial garden. As well as helping out with pavers and planting flowers.
“To complete the project I used a lot of basic construction skills my dad taught me, especially how to use power tools. I designed the benches myself by building several smaller models and getting my dad and scout master, who is a contractor, to review them and give me critiques, until the bench designs were acceptable,” said Balla.
The 3 month project is almost completed, according to Balla. “All I have to do is file the paperwork and make sure all the work I did was legal.”
Once the project is finished, it will have to pass the Eagle Board of Review. Board members will analyze a scout’s life goals, character, and eagle requirements through an interview process. Their ultimate goal is to make sure that a scout is qualified to become an Eagle.
If Balla had the chance to do it all over, he would. “Boy Scouts definitely adds on a lot of work and a lot of stress, but if you can stay organized and keep everything together it is worth it. I’ve learned a lot through Scouts — how to delegate tasks, proper planning, and a lot more. I hope I become an Eagle,” said Balla.
Brock Johnston, a junior part of Troop #11, has already accomplished Balla’s goal.
Johnston started in a cub scout pack at around 6 years old. His dad placed him into the program after being a scout himself.
Working in the Scouts for about 9 years led to Johnston receiving Eagle rank. “During the entire Scout process, I’ve learned a lot: how to deal with difficult problems as they arise and being able to solve them on your own and with the help of others.”
To push up through the ranks, Johnston mastered skills stated in the Boy Scout handbook — tieing knots, making ternacets, doing CPR, starting a fire from scratch, and more. But as he got to the higher ranks, Star and Life, it was more about him developing into a leader.
“One of the biggest challenges I went through was the commitment aspect of things. There is the challenge of wanting to quit or give up because of the work and time needed to become an Eagle. The whole process and commitment to the Scouts is extremely difficult, when you must complete task after task. But once I reached the achievement of Eagle it’s wasn’t necessarily that difficult,” said Johnston.
The process, he says, has given him a whole new perspective on high school.
“The motto is: ‘Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do’. Scouts gives a perspective, that not everything revolves around you — which is very different from high school. Most high schoolers are self-concerned and worried about building up their resume for college, only focusing on themselves. Becoming an Eagle Scout taught me to see it from a different perspective,” said Johnston.
Reminiscing on his scout career, Johnston truly enjoyed the process and the trips he went on. “My troop takes camping trips to the Appalachian Mountains, and it’s really fun. I’ve learned a lot on these trips: life lessons and important skills. Personally, becoming an Eagle Scout gave me a greater appreciation of stuff I take for granted,” said Johnston.
The Eagle Scout rank is respected because it acknowledges the commitment, dedication, and hardwork put in by a scout. Becoming an eagle scout, though difficult, teaches important life lessons and skills. Perhaps, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.