By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
Thirteen of the Eagle Scouts attending Patrick Henry College pose for a group picture in the falling snow.
Many young Americans enjoy participation in the Boy Scouts of America as a childhood rite of passage. Campouts, merit badges, khaki shirts and square knots mark much of the fundamental folklore of this country. On Friday of last week, Patrick Henry College joined the celebration of the Boy Scouts’ 100th year by recognizing the 19 Eagle Scouts currently enrolled as students. Since only about 5 percent of Boy Scouts reach the rank of Eagle, the highest “advancement rank” in scouting, this represents, by any measure, an outstanding concentration of officially earned and recognized leadership on a PHC campus of 300-plus students.
Sophomore Ian Reid joined the Boy Scouts at the age of 13 and passed his board of review to receive the rank of Eagle Scout at 17. Along the way, he completed outdoor skills tests, learned leadership, and passed courses in subjects from survival to aviation and communications. But mostly he tags one attribute as his key to success in reaching this highest rank—persistence.
“My journey to the rank of Eagle reinforced in me the knowledge that to be a great leader, you don’t have to be the most talented, most successful, or best-looking—but you do have to be the most emphatic, most team-oriented, and most persistent,” he states. “To achieve great things, you don’t have to have all the answers, but you do have to be the person who never gives up.”
Junior Bart Gingerich, who hopes one day to lead a family and to go to seminary or to grad school to study history, says that the Boy Scouts slowly seasoned him into manhood.
“The Eagle Project itself is a hands-on education in social skills and responsibility,” he says. “I have to admit that it was an important bonding time for me with my family and my community—a sort of rite of passage to manhood where I began to find my place in my local society.”
As an example of the type of ambitious projects Eagle Scouts tackle, one has to go no farther than Franklin Park, near the College in Purcellville. There, one can find the handsome shade pavilion PHC junior Noah Oberlander built to earn his Eagle Scout badge at age 17. A Government: Political Theory major, Oberlander is able to pinpoint some of the meaning behind this 100-year anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
“My great-grandfather was an Eagle Scout,” he explains. “I have his old Boy Scout manual. The fundamental principles of the Boy Scouts haven’t changed. In a similar way, we teach an age-old tradition here at PHC.”
Like his fellow Eagle Scouts at PHC, Oberlander also emphasizes the ethos of service built through the experiences of his teenage years.
“In the Scouts, we say, ‘Do a good deed daily,’ Service is also a huge part of our mission [at PHC], to impact the culture,” says Oberlander.
And freshman Tyler Stockton, who vaulted through the ranks to achieve Eagle Scout at the age of 15, continued on, using all he had learned in a special service organization within the Boy Scouts, the Order of the Arrow, which builds trails and camps. He later went on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq. As “lodge chief” in the Order of the Arrow, Stockton helped direct a few hundred other cadets, planning state-wide events and arranging leadership training. When he joined the Marines, his Eagle Scout rank gave him an automatic promotion.
Now out in the civilian world, Stockton notes that “when it comes down to it, being able to lead, plan, and pass on skills can be used anywhere.
“Wherever I end up, I intend to be a leader,” he grins.
Eagle Scouts attending PHC include: