Chicago Eagle Scout to receive Honor Medal for heroism during shooting

lawrence-sellersA Scout is brave, but what Lawrence D. Sellers did on Jan. 29, 2013, was something beyond bravery.

The Chicago Area Council Eagle Scout was shot in the leg while shielding a friend from gunfire during the Harsh Park attack that killed Hadiya Pendleton.

Pendleton’s death, which happened a mile from President Barack Obama’s South Side home, has become a national symbol of Chicago’s gang violence, which has spiked in recent years.

On Sunday, the Chicago Area Council will present Lawrence with the Honor Medal, given for “unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.”

Since 1923, fewer than 2,500 Honor Medals have been awarded. That’s a rate of about 28 a year, meaning Lawrence is in rare company.

We’re very proud of Lawrence, as should be our entire national organization,” Chicago Area Council Commissioner Lou Sandoval wrote in an email to me this week. “Lawrence’s story needs to be told in hopes that it will inspire other youth in Chicago to seek an alternative path in life.”

Lawrence’s own life path has been one shaped positively by Scouting.  Continue reading


Eagle Scout Holcomb steers U.S. to bronze in two-man bobsled

holcomb-2010In 2010, Eagle Scout Steven Holcomb won Team USA’s first medal in four-man bobsled in 62 years, driving the United States to gold.

Yesterday, he ended another 62-year American medal drought, this time in two-man bobsled. He and teammate Steve Langton won bronze in the event at the Sochi Games.

It looks like 62 is this Eagle Scout’s lucky number.

“If anybody else has a 62-year drought you need to break, let me know,” Holcomb (in Team USA hat above) told the New York Times. “I’ll try to help you.”

The good news is Holcomb’s best event — the four-man bobsled — is still to come, and this weekend he’ll have a fellow Eagle Scout helping push Team USA to another medal. As I mentioned last week, USA-1 pusher Chris Fogt is also an Eagle Scout, meaning half of the “Night Train” team are Eagles. Continue reading


Behind the numbers: Analyzing the 2013 Eagle Scout class

Anyone who attended an Eagle Scout court of honor last year knows 2013 was a great year for Eagle Scouts.

The same is true when you step back to look at the nationwide picture of young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. And today I learned exactly how many earned Scouting’s highest honor last year.

That magic number: 56,841.

That’s the second-highest number of Eagle Scouts in a single year in the 101-year history of the award. It’s bettered only by 2012′s total of 57,976, set during the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout award. You may remember that Scouts who earned the rank in 2012 got a special badge.

The 56,841 number is impressive, but it’s even more striking when you realize what it means. It means 56,841 young men are now prepared to become great leaders, great husbands and fathers, and great Americans because they chose Scouting.

But the Eagle Scouts themselves aren’t the only ones bettered by the journey. The 9.3 million service hours 2013′s Eagle Scouts recorded during their Eagle projects means their communities are forever changed, too.

Let’s look at even more numbers. This year I got more data than in past years, including a breakdown of Eagle Scout awards earned by region, total project hours and the average age of the young men who became Eagle Scouts in 2013. Find that info after the jump. Continue reading


Pittsburgh teen born addicted to crack becomes Eagle Scout

The next time a Scout in your troop says the road to Eagle is too hard, tell him the story of Nathaniel Gray.

Nathaniel, an 18-year-old from the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood, was born addicted to crack cocaine. He was raised by his aunt and couldn’t walk or eat solid food until he was almost 3 years old.

“The first five years of his life were pure hell for this child,” Gray’s aunt, Julia Robinson-Rose, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On Saturday, Nathaniel, a high school honors student, earned the Eagle Scout rank.

“He’s persevered. He’s persevered through everything,” Robinson-Rose told WTAE-TV (watch their video piece below).

Nathaniel’s story is the a heartwarming example of why Scouting is vital in the life of every young man and young woman. Scouting offers young people a life-changing experience regardless of the circumstances that led them to button up a uniform for the first time.

What’s next for Nathaniel? He’s enrolled in the Pittsburgh Citizen’s Police Academy and wants to become a police officer in Pittsburgh.

“I just want to grow and progress and hopefully become a detective,” he said.

With the adversity Nathaniel has already overcome, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll reach that goal and then some. Nathaniel, you’re an inspiration to us all!

Be sure to watch the WTAE-TV video and find out which merit badge Nathaniel considered his toughest:

Continue reading


New York Times: Eagle Scout’s new book about Vietnam POWs is ‘gripping,’ ‘fresh’

defiant-coverEagle Scout Alvin Townley’s new book Defiant tells of the 11 American prisoners of war who were shipped from the Hanoi Hilton to an even worse prison in North Vietnam they nicknamed Alcatraz.

These “ringleaders, diehard resistors and escape artists” endured torture, loneliness and suffering in cells that measured 3 feet by 9 feet and had always-on lightbulbs making sleep difficult.

Their defiance and survival became a legend that Townley explores through all-new interviews and page-turning, breathtaking stories.

Defiant goes on sale today for $28 at your favorite bookseller.

The New York Times gave Defiant a glowing review, calling it “a gripping account” that takes a “fresh and vivid” look at a story some may think they already know.

And the book’s not just for mom or dad. Defiant, the Times writes, “is an excellent book for younger readers with little knowledge of this searing chapter in American history.”

BSA Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock wrote on his blog that “Defiant is certainly a tribute to the many men and women who have devoted their lives to an important cause — just like the volunteers and staff who share the value and importance of making Scouting part of young peoples’ lives.”

Chief Brock sees Defiant as a powerful tool for Scout leaders who can share with their members stories of “courage, devotion and faith in even the darkest of times.” Think Scoutmaster’s minute material multiplied by a thousand.

The book isn’t just by an Eagle Scout; it’s also about Eagle Scouts. Two of the 11 members of the “Alcatraz Gang” — James Mulligan and George Coker — are Eagle Scouts, and several others had Scouting backgrounds.

Townley, meanwhile, continues to publish incredible, true-life stories. As such, it’s no surprise Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines have reviewed and covered Townley’s books before.

Continue reading


You can thank this Eagle Scout for the wind chill (or at least its name)

siple-silver-buffaloOK, so maybe it’s unfair to blame Paul Siple for the cold weather blanketing the country this week, including below-freezing temps from Washington State to the Florida Panhandle and all across the Northeast.

But Siple, who earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1923, is responsible for coining the term we use to describe just how cold it feels out there: “wind chill.”

The Sea Scout, Silver Buffalo Award recipient, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and Antarctic explorer died in 1968 at age 59. But his legacy lives on every time we check the weather apps on our phone before stepping outside.

As this Order of the Arrow writeup explains, Siple was chosen among 600,000 Scouts to join an Antarctic expedition in 1928. Siple’s place on the expedition had to be publicly funded; “pennies, nickels and dimes” were raised by the Weekly Reader “to help send Paul to the Antarctic.” His companion on the trip was none other than Admiral Richard Byrd.

Siple later wrote four books, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and became a hero to all Scouts. Continue reading


The Eagle Scout application ain’t over till the Boy Scouts sing

ma-you-earned-your-eagleHey, soon-to-be Eagle Scouts: Don’t stop at Page 2 when filling out your Eagle Scout Rank Application (PDF).

Complete the online survey, linked to on the third page (titled Supplemental Eagle Scout Information Form), and you’ll get a free MP3 of the song “Ma, You Earned Your Eagle.”

The song, which I blogged about earlier this week, is a touching way for Eagle Scouts to thank their mother for helping them during the Eagle journey. I can envision it being played at Eagle courts of honor everywhere. The process is simple: Complete the five-minute survey and you’ll get a link to instantly download the MP3.  Continue reading


Teaching assistant killed in Purdue school shooting was an Eagle Scout

In news that makes a tragic story hit painfully close to home, today we learned Andrew Boldt, the victim of Tuesday’s fatal shooting at Purdue University, was an Eagle Scout.

Boldt, a 21-year-old undergraduate teaching assistant and electrical engineering major at Purdue, earned Scouting’s highest honor in August 2009, Boy Scouts of America records confirm. Former teachers called him bright and always willing to help others.

Boldt was inside the school’s Electrical Engineering Building about noon Tuesday when he was shot and killed. The alleged shooter is currently in jail on suspicion of homicide, and a motive is not yet known.

Last night, hundreds gathered in single-digit weather at a candlelight vigil on campus, according to the Los Angeles Times. Continue reading


Unsung heroes no more: Watch Eagle Scout moms get their due

Aren’t Scout moms the greatest? Every den meeting led, patch sewed, ride provided, skinned knee doctored, smelly shirt washed, campout attended and advice dished out reinforces the point that Scouting wouldn’t exist without them.

And few of the boys who make it to the Eagle Scout rank do so without a mom or motherly figure in their lives. I know I never would’ve earned Eagle without mine.

So isn’t it time we gave Eagle Scout moms a proper thanks?

That’s what the creators of the LDS church’s “A Century of Honor” celebration in Salt Lake City must have thought when they wrote “Ma, You Earned Your Eagle,” a song that celebrates the “ever-faithful mom.”

As the name implies, the song acknowledges that although the young man wears the badge and medal, his mother’s Eagle Scout journey deserves its own celebration.

Follow the jump to watch the comical-but-touching performance and find the song’s lyrics. Continue reading


What Scouting did for me: A recent Eagle Scout tells his story

ryan-eberleFor Scouts, earning the Eagle Scout Award feels like the satisfying end to a long journey.

What they soon discover, though, is that the journey has just begun. Just ask Ryan Eberle, an Eagle Scout from Oaklade, Pa., who earned the honor two years ago this month.

Earning Scouting’s highest honor, he writes, made him a “marked man” — in a good way. Because the title has brought with it contacts and connections he wouldn’t have gotten without Scouting — specifically, an impressive paid summer internship at the headquarters of a major energy company near Pittsburgh.

I hear these kinds of stories all the time. Some big-wig finds out the young man he’s talking to is an Eagle Scout, and instantly all barriers between the young man and a great opportunity are eliminated.

Ryan’s story follows that pattern, but it starts long before his sweet gig. To get the full effect, best you read Ryan’s essay, called “What Scouting Can Do For You.”

If you or someone you know questions Scouting’s value, you won’t after reading Ryan’s essay after the jump: Continue reading