WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Two Wright-Patterson Air Force Base teens were recently awarded the prestigious Eagle Scout badge. Dean Larkin and Matthew Wilson earned the rank this past winter. Both recently attended the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.
”I owe everything to my parents,” said Dean. “Their support has been instrumental to my success and achievement [of the Eagle Scout badge].” Dean is the son of Col. Sean Larkin who has been very supportive during this process.
The Eagle Scout title is the highest possible rank that can be attained in the program’s boy scouting division, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
In 1912, Arthur Rose Eldred became the first recipient of the award. Since then, Eagle Scout has been earned by more than 2 million boys.
The BSA’s mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. BSA defines Scout Law as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
“Currently, 3 percent of scouts make Eagle Scout,” said Stephanie Wilson, the spouse of Col. Don Wilson, parents of Matthew. “Only around four of every 100 boys that join Scouts make Eagle—that’s less than 1 percent of the male population.”
In order to earn the badge, a scout must complete at least 21 merit badges and demonstrate scout spirit, leadership and service. Eagle Scouts are identified with a medal and a cloth badge that visibly recognizes their accomplishments.
“Scouting is an outlet for my son to do things he might not have the opportunity to do,” said Ms. Larkin. “He has been caving, hiking, and spends a lot of quality time with his father. We value scouting so much because it tends to slow things down.”
Dean’s Eagle project consisted of a reconstructed park entrance, bench, concrete pad, sign, two trees and six bushes in Rye, New York. Matthews’s Eagle project consisted of a reconstructed washed out trail at Narrows Reserve Nature Center in Greene County.
Matthew agreed that BSA provides unique opportunities.
“I would not be half the person I am today without scouting,” he said. “It teaches you to be respectful, to teach others and to be patient when doing so. Scouting builds leaders, and I think this [BSA] is a bit undervalued.”
Both Dean and Matthew are members of Air Force families, which makes it even more difficult for them to achieve the Eagle Scout badge. Constant moving is a reality in today’s Air Force. Ironically, both young men attribute scouting to making their transition from base to base a little easier.
“Moving schools can be difficult because it’s all new people,” said Matthew. “Scouting brings everyone together as we all have boy scouts as common ground. I [always] looked forward to my new troop.”
BSA is great for military children because it gives them some consistency even when they are facing permanent-change-of-station moves, said Ms. Larkin.
Both young men’s families have changed bases several times during their Boy Scouting careers. Both had to find new troops to be involved with.
“It certainly takes a village to get to Eagle Scout with the pressures of everyday life,” said Ms. Larkin. “The kids have school, sports, family events and some even work. The Boy Scouts are family oriented and certainly encourage family involvement. The troop is like a family.”
“An integral part of scouting that is sometimes overlooked is community service, adds Ms. Larkin. “Both young men participate in food drives, park clean up on a regular basis. Boy scouts facilities good citizenship at an early age.”
Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, and Neil Armstrong, an astronaut and first man on moon, were among the many famous Eagle Scouts.
Dean expressed that his most memorable experience in scouting was a high adventure trip in the Smoky Mountains, but also enjoys many other things he does daily as a scout.
“It’s an important program that helps boys mature into responsible men and leaders. I think its import for boys to get together and be boys,” Ms. Wilson added.
Matthew, who is currently a senior at Beavercreek High School, plans to attend the University of Colorado, major in Biology and ultimately work in the field of forestry.
Dean is a junior at Carrol High School and plans to attend college but has not narrowed his list yet.
As for now, both young men want to stay involved with scouting and plan to give back to BSA and serve in an adult leadership role to assist the scout master.