Ask five Eagle Scouts what they’ll take from their Scouting experience, and you’ll get five uniquely inspiring answers:
- Overcoming hailstorms and wrong turns at Philmont to discover the “unyielding bonds of friendship.”
- A Cycling merit badge experience that led to a lifelong love of the sport and even a job.
- Backpacking trips with “staggeringly beautiful” views.
- A Scoutmaster who “put me in a position to succeed and, most importantly, made Scouting fun.”
- A fear of swimming conquered after years of struggling.
What I find fascinating is that those answers were shared by five Eagle Scouts from the same unit: Scouts BSA Troop 43 of the Michigan Crossroads Council.
Earlier this year, after seven years together in Scouting, all five members of a Webelos den from Pack 3049 of Holland, Mich., became Eagle Scouts. While their journeys began and ended at the same place, each young man took a unique path to the mountaintop honor.
That says a lot about these Scouts — and about Scouting.
Our program gives Scouts a clear destination with checkpoints along the way, but it doesn’t prescribe a single path to get there. Scouts have the freedom to explore — to experience something new, to mess up and try again, to blaze their own trail — but with guidance that keeps them safe and on the right track.
The five Eagle Scouts you’ll meet today serve as a powerful reminder that everyone takes something different away from their time in Scouting. Even if your Scouts aren’t yet ready to articulate their gratitude through a heartfelt speech at their court of honor or a thoughtful note, let these Eagle Scouts remind you that your role as a volunteer matters.
You’re making a difference.
While working on his Eagle Scout service project as a high school freshman, Colin Brown encountered a hurdle more common in older Scouts: He wanted to do everything himself.
Colin’s project involved building two rabbit shelters for a local nature education center. Trouble is, the shelters had to be built in two separate locations — each a five-minute drive apart.
Unable to be in two places at once, Colin learned that leaders must delegate. They must empower and entrust their team.
“I had a troublesome habit of wanting to control everything under my responsibility,” Colin says. “This project helped me break this mold.”
Most memorable Scouting achievement: Crew leader at a Philmont trek in 2017 — “an experience, and feat, I will never forget.”
Favorite merit badge: Metalwork. “It was my first experience with metallurgy, and I absolutely loved the process of heating, shaping, cooling and treating the metals. I still have the keychain and candleholder that I built.”
Toughest merit badge: Swimming. “We did most of the requirements in a lake, which means we were subject to the weather. There were several days where the water was terribly cold. It was a worthwhile experience, though.”
A shoutout to a leader: “Without a doubt, the most impactful mentor in my Scouting career was Mr. Scott Osborne, our troop’s Scoutmaster up to my sophomore year of high school. His guidance was so central to my Scouting journey that I have written several college and scholarship essays based on how he helped me grow as a Scout and young man.”
Advice to a Cub Scout starting their journey: Take initiative with your own advancement. “Lots of new Scouts wait for adult leaders or older Scouts to do rank requirements or merit badges with them. While this is a viable way to get things checked off, taking the initiative to get those things completed faster is not only more exciting but also opens the door to greater opportunities down the road.”
What’s next: Colin is studying chemistry at Princeton University.
Many Eagle Scouts say their most memorable Scouting achievement is the Eagle project.
For Tyler Bush, it was conquering his fear of swimming.
“I dealt with a fear of deep water and swimming for my whole life,” he says. “After realizing I needed to be able to swim to eventually earn Eagle, I really worked at my weakness.”
After years of being unable to earn the “swimmer” classification at summer camp, Tyler kept practicing and making slow but steady progress toward his goal. And then, at last, he had a breakthrough.
“I finally swam the required distance for both the swim test and the First Class requirement,” he says. “The feeling of success and satisfaction afterward was unparalleled in my Scouting career.”
Favorite merit badge: Weather. Tyler is studying meteorology in college “and this merit badge kick-started my interest in the subject.”
Toughest merit badge: Cooking. “I had to cook so many meals,” he says. “It was a lot of hard work, but it was well worth the effort.”
Eagle Scout project: Built small shelters for cats, allowing his local Humane Society to become a no-kill shelter. “It was a long and difficult process, but I learned that teamwork makes even the impossible possible.”
A shoutout to a leader: “Scoutmaster Osborne was always there for me during my Scouting career. I was always constantly driving to advance and learn, and Mr. Osborne let me go at that quick pace. I always found it amazing that he could work with so many different types of people all at once and make every single person feel capable of great things.”
Advice to a Cub Scout starting their journey: “Hold nothing back and participate in as many activities as possible. Scouting isn’t about the awards you earn; it’s about the memories you make along the way.”
What’s next: Tyler is studying meteorology at Penn State and is part of Air Force ROTC, with the hopes of serving in the Air Force after graduating.
A mountaintop moment atop an actual mountain. For Jeffery Graan, it’s hard to beat the memory of having his Eagle Scout court of honor atop Mount Phillips at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
A summit is a great place to pause and take in the vast beauty of the world — a spot where you can feel both infinite and infinitesimal. It’s also an ideal opportunity to reflect on the literal and figurative journey that got you there.
From his spot at 11,742 feet above sea level in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Jeffery was able to look back “on everything I’ve done in Scouting building up to that,” he says. “And it was a very pretty view.”
“Scouting has been something that I loved so much and I could take with me anywhere,” he says. “The things you see and do cannot be found anywhere else.”
Favorite merit badge: Cycling. “To this day I enjoy biking a lot, and it has now become my job.”
Toughest merit badge: Camping. “The prerequisites and activities required a huge variety of campouts and hikes.”
Eagle project: Repainted runway marking cones for his local airport. “This taught me many things, like how big of an impact one group of people can make.”
A shoutout to a leader: “A Scout a few years older than me, Garrison Osborne, was someone who really helped me along the way. I looked up to him. His encouragement always helped me take that next step.”
Advice to a Cub Scout starting their journey: “Stick with it. One easy thing to do in Scouting is to just go through the motions and not advance or earn higher positions. Continuously strive to be better and improve upon yourself.”
What’s next: Attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, majoring in aerospace engineering and pursuing Army ROTC.
If hindsight is 20/20, then Remy Reed has the vision of, well, an Eagle.
Seven years after he last wore the blue Cub Scout uniform, Remy has advice for Cub Scouts just beginning their own journey:
- “Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.”
- “Don’t be afraid to work hard.”
- “Make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing.”
A young person who follows those steps throughout their time in Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA will have a successful Scouting experience — whether they become Eagle Scouts or remain in the program for only a year or two.
Most memorable Scouting achievement: Earning my Eagle Scout Award. “Having proof for all of my hard work was an amazing feeling.”
Eagle project: Remy repaired a grain hopper and a bagging hopper at the De Zwaan windmill in Holland, Mich. The genuine Dutch windmill is located in a municipal park. Remy and his team constructed a stainless steel liner and cover for the grain hopper and built a new bagging hopper. “I learned the importance of communication — communicating ideas and plans clearly makes everything in life run much smoother.”
A shoutout to a leader: “Mr. Osborne was always extremely supportive, always willing to help me out, put me in a position to succeed and, most importantly, made Scouting fun.”
What’s next: Remy is studying business at Michigan State University.
On a cold fall night, Lane stands nervous but confident at the front of the church lodge where his troop meets.
It’s his Eagle Scout court of honor, and he knows all eyes will be on him. The nerves come from knowing he’s the focus of the evening’s celebration — and from the fact that the Eagle Scout Award isn’t the end of a young person’s journey. It’s the beginning.
“I remember waiting with my parents and leader nervously and being so happy to have gotten it done,” he says. “At times Scouting was tough, but I got out to see and do things I would never have done on my own.”
Favorite merit badge: Kayaking.
Toughest merit badge: Lifesaving. “It’s physically demanding.”
Eagle project: Raised funds for AED boxes and created mountings to post them at a local business. “I learned about organizing people and also how powerful a group can be when pulling together for the common good.”
A shoutout to a leader: “Assistant Scoutmaster Todd Reed was key for my reaching Eagle. He kept my focus going, as well as piling on encouragement. My Scoutmaster Scott Osborne has also always seen the best in me as well, and his energy is contagious. Both are organized, patient and kind.”
Advice to a Scout starting their journey: “Get your Tenderfoot quickly, and pick off your other badges and ranks steadily. It’s very achievable, and Scouting makes space for different personalities and temperaments.”
What’s next: Lane plans to attend a nearby community college as he explores possible career paths.
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