Surrounded by friends and family and donning their iconic Boy Scout uniforms, 72 young men from across Southeast Texas received the highest rank afforded to young Boy Scouts, that of Eagle Scout, at the MCM Eleganté Hotel in Beaumont on Tuesday, March 26
The year 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Eagle Scout rank. It’s only fitting that this year’s graduating class is the highest number of scouts to receive the award from the Southeast Texas Three Rivers Council, said the council’s Scout Executive, Les Bentley.
“This will actually set a record for our council,” Bentley said. “Last year we had 70. That’s a lot of Eagle Scouts.”
Southeast Texas’ newest Eagles are following in the footsteps of Arthur Eldred, a 17-year-old Long Island Boy Scout who was the first to receive the rank more than 100 years ago. Since then more than 115 million boys have participated in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), but only about 2 million have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Among the most challenging aspects of acquiring the Eagle rank is that of a comprehensive Eagle project designed to test a scout’s leadership and organizational capabilities as well as fundraising and construction experience.
Each young man must raise the funds necessary to complete the project before designing and carrying it out.
With the help of local businesses, Bentley said local Boy Scouts often have the materials and money they need donated for their projects in a timely manner.
“They work pretty hard at getting donations. There’s Lowe’s and Home Depot, M&D. They’re really good to us,” Bentley said. “A lot of times they’ll get materials donated or they’ll raise money, but on average $1,500 to $2,500, that’s about average.”
Most projects are done for local churches, but many are for area nonprofits.
One example is Joseph Black, 18, of Troop 239 in Fannett, who built a custom ramp and gates for local Special Olympians for use in trail-riding competitions and events all over Texas. By providing a competition-grade atmosphere at the ranch, Black said the athletes will have a much better chance of bringing home the gold.
“Before we gave them the ramp, all they had was a board,” he said. “So this gives them an advantage.”
All the Scouts interviewed for this story said the BSA has been the greatest single achievement of their lifetimes. Most say the BSA’s motto and Scout Law will follow them for the rest of their lives.
“Boy Scouts, beyond family and church, has been the biggest inspiration in life to me,” said Black. “The scout motto spells it out what a scout should do: Do a good turn daily and be prepared. It helps to remember those things.”