‘Social distancing court of honor’ held in new Eagle Scout’s front yard

The stage was a grassy front yard with a brick-house backdrop. The guests wore face coverings and stayed at least 6 feet apart the whole time. At the end, a parade of cars saluted the latest recipient of Scouting’s highest honor.

But other than that, Phillip LaVell Twilley had a pretty standard Eagle Scout court of honor. Well, as much as any Eagle court of honor can be considered “standard,” given how rare the honor is and how difficult the journey.

Phillip, a member of Troop 457 of Memphis, Tenn. (Chickasaw Council), received his Eagle Scout Award on May 9 at a special court of honor held in his front yard. (Read the BSA’s COVID-19 FAQs.)

There was a table that documented Phillip’s Scouting accomplishments through the various “things” he collected along the way — handbooks, badges, Cub Scout neckerchiefs. There was a display of congratulatory letters sent to Phillip, including ones from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, former President Jimmy Carter and Pedro, the Boys’ Life mailburro. There were American flags and Eagle Scout banners and cupcakes.

“My parents have raised me with strong Christian principles and a passion for community service,” Phillip says. “Achieving the rank of Eagle and celebrating the biggest accomplishment in my life with all of the people that have supported me was a dream come true.”

A council first

Officials from the Chickasaw Council say this is the first time in council history that an Eagle court of honor has been conducted in this way. COVID-19 has forced many Scouting units and councils to find new ways to teach merit badges, conduct meetings and perform service projects as we all continue Scouting at Home.

“We recognized that the COVID-19 crisis has interrupted many young people’s life achievements,” says Richard Fisher, Chickasaw Council Scout Executive. “We wanted to celebrate Phillip’s accomplishment using traditional but innovative methods that councils nationwide can replicate.”

After Phillip recieved his Eagle Scout badge and medal, Troop 457 held a drive-by parade, allowing every troop family to congratulate Phillip from a safe distance.

An exceptional Eagle

Phillip, who joined Cub Scouting in second grade, earned 60 merit badges in Scouts BSA Troop 457.

For his Eagle Scout service project, he completed a “Garden of Love” seating area for a local church. Phillip led a group of volunteers as they built two picnic tables and three flower beds and installed a bird bath and charcoal grill.

“If you have fun, and stay on task and keep looking towards your goals, you can complete anything,” he told WMC-TV of Memphis.

Phillip just graduated from Cordova High School east of Memphis and plans to join the U.S. Navy this fall.

“I want to be able to serve God, my family, my country and my community,” he says.

Thanks to Holly Cooper of the Chickasaw Council for the help with this post.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.