Three young men from Blacksburg Boy Scout Troop 152 earned the rarest of scouting achievements Sunday afternoon in ceremonies at the Blacksburg United Methodist Church. Allen Briggs, Seth Boehringer and Andrew Thompson were awarded their Eagle Scout badges. Only about six percent of the boys who begin in Boy Scouts achieve the Eagle rank.
The process takes years. To become an Eagle Scout, a scout must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, 13 of which are required. He must serve actively in a troop leadership position for at least six months after achieving the rank of Life Scout. While a Life Scout, he must propose, plan and carry out a service project helpful to a religious institution, a school or his community in a manner worthy of an Eagle Scout.
Even then, the scout must demonstrate through the testimony of character references and otherwise that he lives by the principles of the scout oath and law in his daily life. Finally, he must appear before a board of review.
The service projects are particularly daunting. For instance, Eagle Scout Briggs, who began his scouting career in the sixth grade by joining Troop 152, built an outdoor stone stairway for the meeting of the Blacksburg Friends. The stairway gives access to a portion of their property that was inaccessible to them without climbing a steep and often muddy hill.
The stairway required 22 steps to reach the top, each step weighing more than 200 pounds. Briggs first dug a 6-inch-deep foundation for each step and filled it with gravel. The steps required just under five tons of gravel. Then, the steps had to be moved safely into place. That required at least three people in every instance.
Eagle Scout Seth Boehringer, who began scouting when he was in the third grade as a Bear Club in Cub Scout Pack 152, constructed a shelter for the Blacksburg Rotary Mountain Biking Park. He drew all the plans for the 16’x12’ shelter and then had to completely revise all his plans once he got the construction under way. The hardest part, he said, was digging through solid rock and pouring the cement for the four posts that supported the shelter. He mixed all the cement and did all the roofing work.
Eagle Scout Andrew Thompson, who began scouting when he was in the third grade as a Tiger Cub with Cub Scout Pack 152 in the fall of 2010, built a Gaga pit at the Christian Life Center of the Blacksburg United Methodist Church. This serious undertaking involved moving 26 tons of material, building retaining walls, concreting in posts and building a wood structure on top.
The scouts’ parents were on hand to pin the Eagle badges over their hearts.
A reception followed the ceremony, which included the presentation of the colors by troop members and the reciting of the scout oath and the scout law, which cites the twelve characteristics of a scout: He is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. A red candle was lit as each quality was called off.
The Rev. Ralph Rowley, pastor of the Blacksburg United Methodist Church, delivered the invocation and the closing prayer. Troop 152 scout master Peter Thompson served as the host and the moderator.