Soaring With Eagles

As parents, we understand there is much more to life than just what is taught within the four walls of a classroom. It is the practical application of what we learn that allows the educational process to become so much more than just a degree. Things like teamwork, readiness, organization and leadership often never get developed properly without having a means of practical application. So parents help their children choose activities like, dance, soccer, softball, baseball and music to help them experience life outside the classroom. Another activity that may not get the same mainstream recognition is Boy Scouts; but it has proven to be one of the best and most rewarding activities for boys to create a well-rounded foundation for their future.

On February 8, 2014 the Boy Scouts of America celebrated 104 years of existence. This organization has provided a pathway to excellence for millions of boys throughout those years. On the surface scouting seems to be just a fun filled adventure in camping, canoeing, hiking, swimming, first aid and cooking. In fact, you would be hard pressed to deny any of these things to be unimportant. But the true heart beat of scouting seems to be about building character, leadership, citizenship and service.

Over 35 percent of West Point cadets, 22 percent of Air Force Academy cadets and 25 percent of Naval Academy midshipman – were involved in scouting as a youth. In addition, 207 of the 312 astronauts since 1959 have been Boy Scouts or active in scouting. Of the 207 astronauts involved in Scouts, 39 were Eagle Scouts…. most notably Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

It is estimated less than 4% of all Boy Scouts achieve the prestigious ranking of Eagle Scout. The attainment of Eagle Scout added to a college application or employment resume could be like having a golden ticket for achievement and accomplishment. There are countless well documented articles on the pages of history books, internet searches and other educational resources, to support the importance of scouting. It is easy to see that scouting has indeed been an important part of the formula for successful careers and the fulfillment of dreams.

Ryan Crawford, Edwin Morris, Josh Bowles, Paul Howington, Stephen Pike and Patrick Oney from Troop 62 in McDonough, make up part of the less than 4% of Boy Scouts that have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Their journey actually began in 2001 as Cub Scouts from Troop 163 in McDonough. With the support and encouragement of their parents, other family and volunteers, they managed to stay together and were promoted to Boys Scouts several years later.

Scoutmaster Guy Simoneaux, Troop 62, recalls the boys as being eager to achieve and learn under his mentorship. “It is extremely rare to see six boys stay in scouting for the long haul, remain in the same troop together and all earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. There are just so many distractions as they get into their teenage years like school sports, activities, cars and girls,” said Guy. It truly is a Soaring with the Eagles accomplishment for these six boys from Troop 62 and a proud moment in time for the families, friends and Scoutmaster.

The Eagle Scout Project is the final challenge a BoyScout has to accomplish in order to be elevated to the rank of Eagle Scout. The Eagle Project is an individual leadership project. It is designed for the Scout to pull from all of his experience as a Scout and be in charge of a project from start to finish. Ryan Crawford’s project was improving the grounds of an old cemetery behind the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. Edwin Morris’s project was converting a cattle shed into a picnic pavilion at Nash Farms. Josh Bowles’s project was building a professional sand volleyball court at Glen Haven Baptist Church. Paul Howington’s project was refurbishing and enhancing the exhibit at the  locomotive display at Heritage Park. Stephen Pike’s project was building five picnic tables at Noah’s Ark. And Patrick Oney’s project was landscaping the grounds and adding a toddler playground at Oakland Baptist Church.

These projects were designed to test the Scout’s leadership training they had developed over the years, as well as their planning and organizational skills. The boys had to submit their project for approval, seek donations and call on volunteers to help with the project.

Since the boys completed their projects at different times, they chose to wait and celebrate their achievements together. This made perfect sense to everyone and just seemed the most fitting way to celebrate their achievement. So, on April 14, 2013 at the Eagle Scout Court of Honor they received their Eagle Pins together.

A lot of pages have been turned in this wonderful journey and it seems the journey has only just begun for these once six young boys who are now six young men. Ryan is attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia where he will be earning his degree to become a Physicians Assistant. He is also currently training for the Iron Man Competition in November 2014. Edwin is attending The Citadel Military College in Charleston, South Carolina with the goal of becoming a Commissioned Officer in the United States Coast Guard. Josh is attending Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia and majoring in architecture. He plans to work for an architectural firm and one day wants to be the president of his own firm. Paul is attending Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia where he plans to major in Exercise Science. Stephen will be attending Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia in the fall and plans to pursue a degree in nursing. Patrick is attending The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia where he is pursuing a medical degree to become a physician.

In the shadows of this story stand proud parents who gave of their time, money and energy to help keep these bright beacons of light shining for our future.   It has often been said, the dreams, hopes and desires of a better tomorrow lie in the hands of our children. And if these six outstanding young men are a sign of what is to come, we will be just fine.