Boy Scout Troop 994, chartered in September 1994, at Hillside United Methodist Church, recently celebrated its 100th Eagle Scout. To commemorate the honor, the troop organized a special celebration for all prior Eagle Scouts and scoutmasters.
Master of Ceremonies Grant Garlinghouse, assistant scoutmaster and former scoutmaster, spent several months organizing the event. Volunteers helped plan the dinner menu, decorate, collect photos from prior campouts, send out invitations, produce the program and clean up.
The keynote address was delivered by Charlie Nickens, Eagle Scout No. 1. He attributes some of his professional success to traits he learned as a Boy Scout.
“I learned commitment to finish what you start, to accept hard work with humility, to put others first, to be honest, to earn respect, to be brave and, most of all, to be a leader by service of others – all skills I learned in Scouts.”
Local state Rep. Michael Caldwell awarded a proclamation, which is entered in the state archives, recognizing the milestone for Troop 994.
The troop leadership, also known as the “Geezer Patrol,” read the names of the 100 Eagle Scouts, with those in attendance honored onstage. Scoutmasters were recognized, in order of service, including: Kendall Nickens, Mark Hess, Matt Jenkins, Grant Garlinghouse, John Salvino, Edward Resendez and Chris Spratt.
“Back in 1994, the troop started with five boys and five dads, but great adult participation led to growth,” said Kendall Nickens, the first scoutmaster. “Over the recent years, the troop has grown to 68 boys and has benefitted from seven strong scoutmasters and many active adults.”
To date, there have been 103 Eagle Scouts “home grown” at Hillside UMC. The troop participates annually in a high adventure camp, such as hiking at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, canoeing at Northern Tier in Canada, or sailing at Sea Base in the Florida Keys. The rest of the year is filled with local campouts, service projects, meetings for skills development and fun activities.
To become an Eagle Scout, a boy must complete seven rank advancements, each with increasing requirements and leadership responsibilities. A minimum of 21 merit badges are required, along with a service project.
The service project must benefit the local community (someone other than Boy Scouts). Examples include projects such as outdoor classrooms or enhancements to playgrounds, and building trail bridges and amphitheaters. The Eagle candidate must come up with a project he is passionate about, and get the concept approved by the troop and district committees. The candidate must organize and execute the project, and obtain benefactor agreement upon completion.
The final step is passing a board of review at the district level, which has been likened to an intense job interview. All requirements must be completed before the boy’s 18th birthday. Because of the time commitment and difficulty involved, the national average for earning Eagle rank is 4 percent of the boys who start. Troop 994 has averaged around 17 percent, mostly attributed to strong parental involvement and pairing up boys with a Life to Eagle coach. Often, these coaches are a non-family member adult in the troop who can help guide the candidate.
Troop 994 accomplishments include: sending crews to all the high adventure camps, donating thousands of service hours to the local community, and winning the Golden Eagle trophy four times at camporee competitions against other district troops. The troop has approximately 600 alumni, and members have attended many colleges, as well as four of the five military academies.
The goal of Troop 994 is to develop a program that continually challenges the youth of our community to make a difference where they live. Scouting goes far beyond camping, canoeing, hiking and earning merit badges. Scouting is a way of life, a set of values, and standards of respect, service and reverence. We try to develop leaders who will ensure the world is a better place, and have fun along the way.
Troop 994 meets Monday evenings at Hillside United Methodist church in Woodstock.
– Hamlin Boswell, active in Troop 994 as an assistant scoutmaster.