Recognizing one Boy Scout at a time for earning his Eagle Scout is more typical than what is about to happen at St. Odilia in Shoreview, where eight youth in Troop 626 who recently achieved the program’s highest rank will be recognized at the same time.
And just one of their Eagle Scout projects could keep a parish social justice team busy for a year. But this isn’t a typical year or a typical troop.
The high school seniors, all graduates of St. Odilia grade school, will be recognized Feb. 3 for earning the Eagle Scout rank after years of service, leadership and good citizenship, culminating this past year with each planning and directing a unique project to benefit local and even international communities.
“They’re very wise, well thought-out projects that have real impact on people’s lives,” said Scout leader and parent Paul Johnson, who was a den leader when all the young men started in Cub Scouts 12 years ago as St. Odilia first-graders.
In addition to the eight who will be recognized Feb. 3, two of the original 13 who started together in Boy Scouts also have earned their Eagle Scout rank, he said. Nationally, only 5 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the rank.
Projects teach lessons
From collecting bicycles for homeless youth to repair and sell, to organizing a band concert and party for nursing home residents, to collecting and delivering refurbished sporting goods to a Costa Rican school, the Scouts’ projects reveal their ingenuity and emerging leadership and organizational skills, Johnson said.
After earning merit badges in a range of disciplines, the Scouts, who have collectively camped the equivalent of one and one-half years, developed their projects, presented a plan to a review board and then submitted the results — a lengthy and challenging process, said Johnson, a St. Odilia parishioner. Scouts must finish their project by their 18th birthday, he added.
Three students at Totino Grace in Fridley talked about their projects and what they learned:
Michael Frisbie said he learned “the importance of time management” when he raised funds to buy lumber to build picnic tables for the Gospel Hill Camp in Shoreview, which serves inner-city youth.
Thomas Garside gained a “greater appreciation of the outdoors” when he organized construction of a concrete and brick stairway for the elderly at Presbyterian Homes in Shoreview.
Ryan Haugland said he “relived old memories” when he collected more than 800 bingo prizes for teens at St. Paul Children’s Hospital because he had been a cancer patient at the hospital when he was younger.
Students from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul also had stories to tell:
After traveling to Lima, Peru, to see a volunteer group that provides plastic surgery and dentistry to children, Ritchie Podvin said he gained a “worldly perspective” as he collected toys, clothing, cash donations and other items for the organization.
Alex Evenson, said he “learned about organization” when he collected computers for more than 60 people for a St. Paul non-profit that rebuilds and distributes used computer equipment.
Nick Byron saw the importance of “using time wisely” as he collected bicycles for a non-profit organization that teaches homeless youth bike repair and business skills.
Daniel Johnson “gained confidence” as he organized a birthday party at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Holy Family Residence in St. Paul, complete with a concert by members of CDH’s wind ensemble and gift baskets for residents.
John Peirson collected used sporting equipment and personally delivered the refurbished equipment to a Costa Rican school where he said he “made new friends.”
Skills for the future
The Eagle Scout project builds on abilities the Scouts have been developing, especially leadership and organizational skills, as the boys learn to organize and direct volunteers, Johnson said.
“The boys are very accustomed to leadership skills, but it’s been the process of Eagle Scout that the boys are called upon to take these leadership skills that they’re working on and apply them to service,” he said.
The Scouts will be honored during Catholic Schools Week at an Eagle Court at St. Odilia, where they will receive their emblem and have a chance to speak about their years in Scouts. The ceremony provides an opportunity for younger troop members to see the Eagle Scouts’ work and, hopefully, be motivated to work toward the rank as well, he said.
Troop 626 is one of the Twin Cities’ largest with 85 Cub Scouts and 68 Boy Scouts, he said.
As the new Eagle Scouts finish high school and prepare for college, they take skills that will benefit them in the next stages of their lives, Johnson said.
“The whole goal of the Scout program is to give boys the tools that they need so they can become responsible young men,” he said. “That’s exactly the point.”
Category: Catholic Schools Week