Five brothers from Wisconsin — all Eagle Scouts — share why we still need Scouting

The Ehr brothers, from left: Matthew, Dan, Robert, Gerald and Benjamin.

Scouting teaches you new skills. It takes you outside your comfort zone. It helps you trust yourself — and others. It builds perseverance.

And it’s a ton of fun.

Ask five Eagle Scouts why this country still needs the values-packed programs of the BSA, and you’ll get five different answers. Turns out that’s true even if all five Eagle Scouts once lived under the same roof.

Last month, Matthew Ehr earned the highest honor in Scouts BSA. In doing so, he fulfilled a tradition started by his oldest brother seven years earlier. All five sons in this exceptional family from Burlington, Wis. (Three Harbors Council), are now Eagle Scouts.

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered families with five Eagle Scout siblings — or even six. And Scouting magazine in 1984 wrote about three families that each have 10 Eagle Scout sons.

“I know that through the years there have been families where five or more brothers become Eagle Scouts,” says Andrew Hardin, Scout Executive of the Three Harbors Council, “but it remains a rare feat worth celebrating.”

We couldn’t agree more. We never get tired of hearing about Scouting siblings like the Ehr (pronounced “air”) brothers. Each brother’s experience in Troop 334 demonstrates how five young people can be raised by the same parents and be members of the same troop and yet have vastly different Scouting experiences. In these differences, we see proof that Scouting is a smorgasbord of adventure, offering something for everyone.

But look for the similarities, too. As you read about each brother below, consider whether the lessons these brothers take away from Scouting are ones imparted in your troop, too. I bet you’ll see how Scouting values are universal.

Let’s meet the Ehrs.

Benjamin Ehr (Class of 2013 Eagle Scout)

Current age: 24
Eagle project: Collected items for and created care packages for U.S. troops stationed abroad. “It was a bit of work to be able to collect and send everything, but the thanks I received from the recipients made it more than worth it.”
Three toughest merit badges:

  • Swimming: “I was a weak swimmer, but through hard work, determination, and help from my father, I was able to develop my swimming ability enough to achieve the merit badge.”
  • Chemistry
  • Rifle Shooting
    Favorite Scouting memory: Summer camps. “Between having fires in the evening as our Scoutmaster played his guitar, getting to set our personal schedules for the week and the fun and excitement of our annual pancake cooking competitions, summer camp was always the thing to look forward to.”
    What he’s up to now: Went to Milwaukee School of Engineering, where he received a degree in industrial engineering. He has been working as a manufacturing engineer to develop and improve production processes.
    Why this country needs Scouting: “It provides the opportunity to learn and develop new skills that would otherwise not be available to many individuals.”

As the first of his siblings to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Benjamin didn’t have to worry about following in footsteps or filling shoes.

Instead, it was “a feeling of wanting to set a trend,” he says. “We all had the same goal, and as each of us continued to earn it, it made it that much more important to help the next of us to achieve this shared goal.”

Gerald Ehr (Class of 2014 Eagle Scout)

Current age: 23
Eagle project: Repainted the concession stand building at New Munster Park and replaced some of the wood trim on the building.
Three toughest merit badges:

  • Citizenship in the World: “I didn’t have that wide of a worldview at that time, so it was hard for me to find interest in it.”
  • Lifesaving
  • Signaling (historical merit badge)
    Favorite Scouting memory: “Helping teach the younger Scouts the skills that they needed to achieve their rank advancements.”
    What he’s up to now: Environmental engineer
    Why this country needs Scouting: “Scouting took me outside of my comfort zone at times, and it really pushed me to go out and engage with the world around me. Those are the things that make Scouting relevant and important to today’s youth.”

Rather than competitive, Gerald says the journey to Eagle was collaborative. This is epitomized by the fact that each brother volunteered at every other brother’s Eagle project.

“We really pushed each other to make sure our brothers put in the effort to finish their own projects,” he says.

Robert Ehr (Class of 2015 Eagle Scout)

Current age: 23
Eagle project: Built a sign for a small municipal park that few people knew was a park because of a lack of signage. He also refurbished picnic tables that were in disrepair.
Three toughest merit badges:

  • Personal Finance: “The time commitment and recording processes were difficult.”
  • Family Life
  • Citizenship in the Community
    Favorite Scouting memory: Teaching younger Scouts how to build fires and tie knots. “I felt lots of joy and accomplishment teaching and learning with others.”
    What he’s up to now: Attended the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point to get a degree in natural science for secondary education.
    Why this country needs Scouting: “The life skills and traits of leadership, duty to others, self sufficiency and perseverance that can be learned through Scouting translate into life beyond Scouting in real and useful ways.”

Earning Eagle is never a sure thing, but there was never a question of whether Robert would try his hardest to complete the requirements.

“I felt that the rank of Eagle was an achievement that I could use to show my skills and commitment,” he says. “I never felt it was a competition but rather an honor to earn alongside my brothers. But I definitely didn’t want to break the chain of Eagle Scouts, either.”

Dan Ehr (Class of 2016 Eagle Scout)

Current age: 22
Eagle project: Built a percussion storage cabinet for his school’s band. “By building it myself, I could ensure it would be durable enough to last for years to come — and build it to better fit the equipment stored in the cabinet.”
Three toughest merit badges:

  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Rifle Shooting: “A good challenge of patience and focus.”
    Favorite Scouting memory: “I had a great time at Tomahawk Scout Reservation with their high-adventure program, where I used ATVs and did some zip-lining and mountain biking.”
    What he’s up to now: Pursuing a college degree and working as a technician for Conagra Brands to pay for school.
    Why this country needs Scouting: “It provides experience in a team environment, something often missed by schools. It also gave me a chance to try new things that I wouldn’t have if I weren’t in Scouting.”

“Unique opportunities and good friends” kept Dan in Scouting even as other activities took up more and more of his time.

As he made progress toward becoming his family’s fourth Eagle Scout, he says “there wasn’t any real competition” with his brothers.

“It was good to see them reach their goals, and I had mine independently,” he says.

Matthew Ehr (Class of 2020 Eagle Scout)

Current age: 18
Eagle project: Created a large cedar sign for Oakwood Shores Park and refurbished the Koch Park sign for the town of Wheatland.
Three toughest merit badges:

  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
    Favorite Scouting memory: His Philmont trek. “Despite the many other great places I went to as part of Scouting, Philmont Scout Ranch was my favorite of them all.”
    What he’s up to now: Plans to go to college and become an industrial engineer.
    Why this country needs Scouting: “Scouting helps young people learn important lessons that will inevitably help form a well-rounded life.”

Matthew was just 11 years old when his oldest brother became an Eagle Scout. He remembers watching his four older brothers enjoy Scouting, which “gave me something to look forward to.”

Are there multiple Eagle Scouts in your family?

Share your story in the comments below!

About Bryan Wendell 3106 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.