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The Highest Honor

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Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Michael Julien – Collegiate Staff

A dream I had since the age of 10, becoming an Eagle Scout, has meant a great deal to me.

If I wasn’t so involved in Scouting I don’t know where I would be today. All of the different skills I learned from Scouting, I will use for the rest of my life. Like any other great accomplishment, when I became an Eagle Scout I had feelings of extreme relief and excitement.

All across the country there are many different levels of Scouting, from Cub Scouts in early elementary, Boy Scouts in middle school and high school to Venturing crews until the age of 21. The highest honor in Scouting is the Eagle Scout rank. However, only five percent of Boy Scouts will earn this award, which must be earned before the age of 18.

I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout last May from Boy Scout Troop 264 in Rockford. It was one of the greatest accomplishments in my life. I am still involved in my Troop as an Assistant Scoutmaster. This means that I help Scouts learn leadership, outdoor and planning skills, and hopefully achieve the Eagle Scout Rank.

Many boys start out in Cub Scouts at the age of 5 and earn their Arrow of Light, the highest rank in Cub Scouting. At 10 years old a boy can continue on the journey into Boy Scouts. You do not have to be a Cub Scout to become a Boy Scout.

The requirements that led up to the rank of Eagle Scout were the toughest requirements in my Scouting career.

The most challenging requirement was planning and carrying out a service project. My project was for Rockford Public Schools at Camp Rockford where my Boy Scout Troop often goes camping. One of the other Scouts in my troop rebuilt one of the fire pits at the camp for his Eagle project. The fire pit looked great when it was done, but there was no place for anyone to sit.

For my Eagle project, I led a group of about 10 scouts to build six benches around the fire pit. They were constructed out of pressure-treated lumber and took approximately three months to build. Now there’s seating for up to 12 adults or 24 kids.

Some of the other major requirements to be an Eagle Scout are rank advancements. There are six ranks to get through in order to earn your Eagle rank. While some Scouts do it faster, it took me all seven years of my Boy Scout career to earn my Eagle. Some of the requirements were first aid, lifesaving and outdoor skills.

Learning some of the first aid was difficult. I had to learn how to treat everything from a minor cut or scrape to saving someone’s life. The training came in different strides.

One merit badge that I did a lot of training in was lifesaving. This consisted of learning how to save someone from the water who was drowning. One of the craziest parts of the training was when I had to dive about 10 feet down to the bottom of a murky, mucky lake and retrieve a 10 pound weight, from where the bottom was barely visible.

The experience was very worthwhile. Being an Eagle Scout has been very beneficial to me. Just being able to tell people about the experience and how people are so amazed that I did it.

It took up most of my childhood, but I had fun in every moment. There was even a time I thought about quitting because it was difficult, but I decided to stick with it because I got into planning campouts and other leadership activities. Once I had more of a voice in the planning, I enjoyed the rest of my time as a Boy Scout and I’m glad I reached my goal.