Karson Riggs and Ryan Bean are two high school-aged youngsters in a sea of pre-college youth throughout America. They both study hard and have aspirations for their futures. But what sets them apart from your average high school students is an organization and an award they’ve spent half their young lives striving for.
Riggs and Bean are two of the newest Eagle Scouts of the Boy Scouts of America in Beaumont.
Riggs, 16, a sophomore, and Bean, 17, a junior, are both in Troop 85 and go to school at Kelly High School.
To achieve the rank of Eagle, scouts must spend years taking leadership rolls and earning merit badges until they rise through the ranks to Eagle. Their time as a Boy Scout culminates with the completion of an Eagle Scout project, wherein scouts must fundraise, design, build and finally donate their project to charity.
Standing next to fresh landscaping at the Westgate Memorial Baptist Church in Beaumont’s West End, Riggs said his project took about 180 man-hours to complete at a cost of about $2,000.
Riggs said he hit some snags along the way.
“I wanted to get it done during the winter because that’s the best time to plant plants down here so that everything doesn’t die,” he said. “That ended up not working, so I said, ‘OK, we can do it during the spring, March and April, before it gets too hot.’ Well, then it started raining. We went through a little rainy season there and so every Saturday I would say ‘Let’s do a work day here,’ it kept getting rained out.”
Despite the rain, Riggs was able to complete his project within a year.
Bean, too, had his own setbacks along the road to Eagle.
“It was during my football season. The first game I got hit, and I had a concussion,” Bean said. “It was not a normal circumstance because when I got hit, my brain lost its sense of balance. I had to go to Houston a lot to learn how to balance myself. I wasn’t physically able to build most of it at the beginning, so it was kinda hard to get your friends out there, get ’em building it. You know, you have to sit down; you can’t stand up because I’d get dizzy.”
Bean’s project, a fire station play house for a CASA foster home in Port Arthur, cost at least $1,700 and more than 200 man hours to complete.
He said the Boy Scouts has changed his life in a way no other organization can.
“It’s a lot easier to find a group of friends that you can hang out with and not get in too much trouble with,” Bean said. “It’s taught me a lot about life and leadership, just how to conduct yourself. Through all these merit badges, I kind of understand where I want to go in life. It’s probably been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”