Students strive for honor, prestige as Eagle Scouts
By Sophia Ponte, Staff Reporter
Honor, dedication, service and hours of hard work are just some of the attributes that the prestigious title of Eagle Scout embodies. Four Conestoga students are, or soon will be, members of an exclusive group that once accepted Neil Armstrong, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.
The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest possible title in the Boys Scouts of America and only about five percent of Boy Scouts reach this level. Achieving the status of Eagle Scout can open many doors, including several scholarship opportunities.
“It’s the pinnacle of achievement in Boy Scouts,” said freshman Matt Holtzer, who is on the road to becoming an Eagle Scout.
To earn this award, the scouts must complete 21 merit badges and lead an extensive service project. Several students have accomplished this goal, including sophomores Alex Wilson and Michael Bennett.
Wilson completed his Eagle Scout project in April. For his project, Wilson’s goal was to improve conditions for handicapped users at the Field of Dreams, a baseball and softball complex for the Berwyn-Paoli Area Little League.
“They have these three handicap access ramps but they were built quite a while ago so for my project I ripped off all the floor boards and put new composite ones in,” Wilson said.
On top of completing the construction aspect of the project, Wilson was also in charge of gathering volunteers and acquiring all the supplies needed for the ramp. Wilson said that he personally spent about 40 hours working and estimates that the total time that the volunteers worked was approximately 250 hours.
“Getting everybody to work together to get the end goal accomplished was a bit of a challenge,” Wilson said.
Sophomore Michael Bennett participated in the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project to earn his Eagle Scout title. The purpose of the project is to collect and preserve first-hand accounts of United States war veterans and to teach future generations of Americans about the sacrifices and realities of war.
Bennett filmed interviews with ten war veterans, and then converted the interviews to DVD format and submitted the finished product to the Library of Congress archives. Bennett said that earning his Eagle Scout award took hours of hard work but represented a significant accomplishment.
“I grew up a lot during that project,” Bennett said. “I really had a fulfilling experience.”
Junior Ben Levin is in the process of becoming an Eagle Scout and said that he is motivated to earn the title because of the prestige that comes with it.
“It’s an accomplishment because only [a few of the Scouts] make it, so that’s only [about] a thousand a year,” Levin said.
Levin and his family are regular visitors to Jenkins Arboretum and Levin said that he wanted to be more involved in helping the non-profit organization. His 140-hour service project was weeding the Arboretum.
“It seemed like [the Arboretum] had a lot of work to do so I took it from there,” Levin said.
The project took several months of planning and Levin devoted four days to weeding the area. The Arboretum greatly benefitted from his efforts and Levin said that the project significantly impacted him as well.
The best part “was at the end, just seeing everything and all the work that was put into it,” Levin said. “Every time we drive past that area I’ll be like, ‘I did that.’”
Levin said that he believes that the hardest part about the project was not the workload but the leadership and cooperation involved.
“Everyone would show up but a lot of them would want to take a lot of breaks,” Levin said. “It was just hard to get everybody working because a lot of the kids in my group were littler.”
Holtzer, who has completed everything needed to become an Eagle Scout except for the project, finds the most difficult part is the incredible dedication needed to complete the requirements.
“Some of [the service projects] take a lot of commitment and time to finish,” Holtzer said. “Overall, you really have to spend about four or five years in Scouts to really be able to learn everything.”
He agrees with Levin that a show of leadership may be the most prominent attribute necessary for becoming an Eagle Scout.
“When you start out as a new scout, there’s a lot of ranks and for each one you have to display a new level of skill and a new level of merit badges,” Holtzer said. “It’s just signifying that you have to take a leadership position.”
In addition to the life skills that becoming an Eagle Scout has given him, Holtzer said that he will benefit from the process for the rest of his life.
“You can say it for the rest of your life. You can go up to someone who’s 30 or 40 and say, ‘I’m an Eagle Scout,’” Holtzer said. “It’s just a big thing to say.”
Sophia Ponte can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on p. 15 of the June 6, 2011 issue of The Spoke.