Nathan Flowers and David Taylor began their Scouting careers together more than a quarter-century ago.
They were in the same Cub Scout pack and then moved together into Troop 475 of Florence, S.C. Flowers earned Eagle in 1997, and David was there at his court of honor.
So it’s only fitting that Flowers, who currently serves as an assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 475, was in attendance at David’s Eagle Scout court of honor last month.
David, 39, was given extended time to complete his Eagle Scout journey because of developmental disabilities. An abnormality in David’s 12th chromosome has slowed his growth.
“He is currently and always has been much smaller than others, so the boys in the troop would look out for him and make certain he was fully involved in whatever was going on,” Flowers says. “This still happens even today. On the trail, however, David is a beast. Over the years, we have found that he is much faster than me and our other Scoutmasters.”
The Eagle extension was approved by David’s local council (the Pee Dee Area Council) and the BSA’s National Service Center in Texas. There’s actually a whole section in the Guide to Advancement about registering members beyond the traditional Scouts BSA cutoff of 18.
“Scouting opens the doors for everyone to excel,” says Pee Dee Area Council Scout Executive Michael Hesbach. “I am proud that our policies allow a Scout like David to have the opportunity to achieve his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout.”
Putting others first
Harrell Docherty first met David when Docherty took over as Scoutmaster of Troop 475 in 2002.
For a while, Docherty and Flowers weren’t aware that David could continue working toward the Eagle Scout rank. Besides, they observed that David was more interested in helping younger Scouts excel than in completing requirements for himself.
“He was one of our assistant leaders, helping new Scouts get to First Class, keeping up with progress, getting older Scouts to help teach skills,” Docherty says. “But as the troop worked on merit badges, I would have David work on them also.”
During that process, Docherty and Flowers learned that David could receive credit for the badges he had earned. They worked with Hesbach to gather the necessary documentation, including proof that David had been continuously registered for the past 21 years.
“When David discovered that he was still eligible to earn his Eagle, he was pumped,” Docherty says. “He figured which badges he still needed to work on, got other boys that needed the same ones and got to work. He came up with a very good service project and got the whole troop involved.”
For his Eagle Scout service project, David constructed a knot board at Lynches River County Park. The board teaches the public how to tie some essential knots.
A journey to celebrate
Scouting has been good to David, and he’s been good to Scouting.
Over the past three decades, David has served with generations of Scouts as a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.
He has built friendships that have extended beyond Scouting. When he was in school, David’s fellow Scouts took him under their wings.
“Kids don’t know how to respond to folks that are different. The usual response is to avoid,” Docherty says. “With David, the boys in the troop would have him sit with them at lunch, pep rallies, games.”
That connection became even more apparent at Philmont Scout Ranch, where David completed treks in 2012 and 2017.
“We were summiting Baldy Mountain, and the boys were standing 15 yards from the top. Just standing there,” Docherty remembers. “I asked, ‘What are y’all doing? The top is right there.’ Their response was, ‘We are waiting for David, so we can go up together.’”
Flowers’ favorite memory of David comes from that same Philmont trip in 2012. On top of Baldy, Flowers, David and the Scouts were looking around at the scenery.
“David was taking pictures of Eagle Nest Lake, when he walked over and sat down next to me and Harrell [Docherty]. I looked over at him and said, ‘Well David, you did it.’ He didn’t really look at me. Instead, he looked off in the distance for a second then said, ‘Yeah I did it. I never thought I could, but then I did it.’
“That has really stuck with me over the years, and that persistence has served him well in completing his Eagle Scout requirements,” Flowers says. “I really look up to him.”
Since 2002, David has helped 17 boys get their Eagle Award. Most of those made it back to see David awarded his Eagle.
“It is such an honor to get this far and to this point,” David said at his Eagle court of honor. “Becoming an Eagle Scout means the world to me.”