It’s in their blood

Written by Casey Rees. Posted in Business

Published on March 23, 2011 with No Comments

The rank of Eagle Scout is earned by only the most dedicated and deserving of Boy Scouts. It takes years of hard work and self-sacrifice to achieve the honor. Only about one in 100 accomplish it. So, when two brothers earn the rank of Eagle Scout, it is remarkable. When those brothers grow up and have sons that reach the level of Eagle Scout, it is a rare and glowing testament to a family with the Eagle Scouts in their blood.

Drew and Fred Armstrong, siblings and Eagle Scouts since 1978 and 1982, respectively, watched their sons, Samuel and John, both 17 years old, get sworn in as Eagle Scouts last weekend at the First Christian Church in Valparaiso. The hour-long ceremony befits the culmination of years of hard work by the two ambitious young men.

Since its inception in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has seen more than 110 million Americans from all walks of life join the ranks. Of all that have donned the uniform, only about 2 million have reached this highest level of Eagle Scout. To get to this level, one must demonstrate the qualities outlined in the scout oath, complete the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project, and earn the required amount of merit badges.

Twenty one is the magic number. Twenty one merit badges are required to become an Eagle Scout, but neither John nor Samuel stopped there. With 37 badges to John’s credit, and 45 to Samuel’s, the boys are proud of all their accomplishments. But a few stick out in their minds.

“I’m probably most proud of my Winter Sports merit badge,” John said. “Just because I learned to ski when I was younger. It’s something that stuck with me and something I’ve always enjoyed.”

Samuel, an outdoors enthusiast who one day plans to be a conservation officer, is most fond of his Wilderness Survival badge.

“I got to spend the night out in the wilderness with no tent,” he said with a smile.

Having gained the required amount of badges, the aspiring Eagle Scouts had one more hurdle. The Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project is a demonstration of what the Scouts stand for and is a must for those looking to join the exclusive fraternity.

It is the zenith of the Scout’s leadership training and is at its core, a good deed requiring significant effort for an entity outside of the BSA. This cannot be performed for an individual or business, cannot just be a fundraising endeavor, and cannot be a commercial effort.

Samuel chose to build benches around trees at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso for his project.

“It was to help the park and all the people that go there. I know in the fall they do a lot of cross country running there, and there are a lot of festivals there,” Samuel said.

“I remembered in the past there were benches around quite a few trees, and a lot of them have been destroyed over time. I thought it would be a good idea to build more benches to offer places to sit.”

When choosing his project, John wanted to give back to a community that has given so much to him.

“I built a memorial garden outside my church,” explained John.

“Basically I did the landscaping and the brick walkway, and in the middle was an ash cistern for cremations. I’ve grown up in the church and the church family has helped me a lot in life, and I thought of something I could do to help them out.”

Behind these accomplished young men are their proud fathers, the aforementioned Eagle Scouts Drew and Fred, who are happy to share common interests with their sons.

“It’s a great joy to see him come up (in the Scouts),” Drew, Samuel‘s father, said.

“I wasn’t looking for him to follow in my footsteps, or anything like that. I was just looking for him to enjoy the scouting program for what it is. But for him to achieve the Eagle Scout rank is special. It’s great. He’s the one who put the effort into it. I’m proud of him.”

Fred, John’s father, appreciates what the Scouts have done for him and sees the positive effects it has had in helping mold his son. He hopes the tradition will go on.

“It’s a great experience. I know in 10, 20 years, he’ll remember this, and he’ll look back on this. Hopefully he will be able to share it with his son,” he said.

The fathers take into account what has changed and what has remained constant within the organization ooking back on their time with the Scouts

“The boys have so much more stuff going on nowadays,” Drew said.

“Back when I was a Scout, we had activities like band and sports, but it seems like now there are just so many other activities for the boys, particularly when they get into junior high and high school. Just for them to stay focused on the scouting program and finish up the scouting program is a major accomplishment.”

But some things never change, like the original ideals the Scouts were created with.

“The same goals are true,” Fred said. “The nod to others, the skills; not only the outdoor skills, but the personal management and citizenship skills. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed.”

For more information about the BSA or for information about enrolling, visit www.scouting.org.

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