Seven local boys joined the ranks of Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford and Steven Spielberg on Tuesday night when they were named Eagle Scouts.
For seven from one troop to earn the highest possible Boy Scouts rank in one night is both unusual and exceptional, said Scott Hayden, director of field service at the Boy Scouts of America Twin Rivers Council.
“Usually, they earn them one at a time, at their own pace,” he said. “The most I saw at one time from one troop was four Eagle Scouts. But to have seven do it at one time is a pretty special thing.”
No one is really sure how it happened, though several of the Scouts from Troop 101 grew up in the troop together. First chartered in 1956 with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Troop 101 represents Rexford in the Schenectady District of the regional Twin Rivers Council, which covers 13 counties across the Capital Region and North Country.
It’s no easy task to become an Eagle Scout. There’s six months as a Life Scout, 21 merit badges, one service project, one Scoutmaster conference, daily “Scout spirit” and leadership demonstrations, as well as an Eagle Scout board of review — all while attending school and all before turning 18. Fewer than 5 percent of Boy Scouts ever earn the elite rank.
Daken Broadhead organized a 5K race to help feed the hungry as his service project. The Canter for Canned Food 5K was held in November and drew upward of 100 people to the starting line at Indian Meadows Park in Glenville. Each participant was asked to bring at least one canned food item. When all was said and done, the Scotia-Glenville High School junior collected 400 pounds of canned food for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
“I run cross-country and track for school, so running is a big part of my life,” he said. “I knew I wanted my project to center around something like that. It was a lot of work, as the project should be.”
Broadhead moved through the Boy Scout ranks at about the same pace as his friends Austin Bringhurst and Tommy Stevenson. “We kind of all moved through Scouts together, you know?” he said. “We were roughly the same age. We were always kind of close, so everything came together at once for us.”
Stevenson, a freshman at Niskayuna High, organized a group of boys to help build new footbridges and clear trails at his old elementary school in Rexford. His science class used to study animals and plants along the trails behind Glencliff Elementary School and his gym class used to hike and cross-country ski there.
But the trails, part of the John F. Youngblood Wildlife Sanctuary, had become overgrown, forcing them off school curricula. So Stevenson got a group together, including many of the boys from his troop, and cleared the trails last October.
“I had a lot of support from my parents,” he said Tuesday. “They pushed me a lot so I was really determined to get this done.”
At a ceremony held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rexford Tuesday night, Stevenson and Broadhead were awarded the Eagle rank, along with fellow troop members Samuel Smith of Ballston Lake; Austin Bringhurst of Glenville; Austin and Dallas Jensen, both of Rexford; and Tanner Fugal of Burnt Hills.
The other boys all organized and completed service projects significant to their communities, including painting and repairing playground equipment, cleaning church land for a new structure and training volunteers to enter thousands of names from legal records for online access to genealogists.
With family and friends in attendance, the ceremony is designed to inspire younger siblings or friends in the audience to reach the Eagle rank, Hayden said.
“For the younger boys in the audience, it shows that they can do this as well,” he said. “It’s not something you can do overnight. It takes perseverance. But they get to see that it’s not impossible.”