When Joseph Adelman became overwhelmed with his trek for Eagle Scout, it only took a little family competition to get back in the right direction and become the first of three Springfield brothers to earn the coveted Boy Scout badge.
It happened about age 16 for Joseph, who is now a freshman at Guilford College in North Carolina.
"There was a big time when I went and didn't do anything, at the Life Scout stage right before Eagle. It would have been something I would have regretted for the rest of my life. People kept saying, 'You can't let your brothers get it before you,'" he said.
This little period of uncertainty put a time constraint into the final push for the Eagle badge, which has to be earned before age 18, according to Scout rules. Joseph turned 18 in February but was completing his final project of clearing a flood area of all weeds and debris in January. His brothers smiled, remembering the feat, which involved an all-hands effort to contact people and coordinate everyone involved.
"It had gotten overgrown and was cited from the county. There was a good foot or so of snow. I had until the middle of February to get all the paperwork in," he said.
BROTHER TIMOTHY, 18, took part in a trail conservation project in the Accotink Wildlife Refuge on Fort Belvoir, and Stephen, 17, tackled an overgrown bush problem at Edison High School, where their father teaches. Stephen remembered getting the last stump out of the ground.
"We used a truck and chain to pull out the roots," Stephen said.
They all look back with a sense of accomplishment and hope to pass their enthusiasm on to other Scouts during their quest for Eagle.
"It makes you want to go back and help others like they helped you," Joseph said.
They have a fourth brother, Peter, 13, who's on his way to Eagle. He'll have plenty of mentors.
"We're going to try to get our younger brother to get one, too. He has to live up to the reputation," Joseph said.
Karen Adelman, mother, sees Peter’s determination too.
"The fourth one, at age 13, is already half way to Eagle Scout," she said.
THE THREE ALL put in about 12 years each in scouting, starting with Tiger Scouts at about age 6.
"All of us started at Tiger Scouts. You hear about the Pinewood Derbies, arts and crafts, then you enjoy it," Joseph said.
Paul VI counselor Liz Ratliff had Joe and Stephen during her nine years at the school, which is located in Fairfax. None of them bragged about their scouting achievement.
"They're all quiet, unassuming, humble kids," she said.
Ratliff's seen several students at Paul VI who have earned the Eagle Badge. "They're doing it on their own because it's important to them. I think that part of learning [to be] an Eagle Scout takes something special," she said.
From a mother's perspective, Adelman's seen that as well. She's seen esteem, organization and responsibility stem from their achievement.
"There is potential to learn a lot. It's an elite group that makes it to Eagle Scout. On all the college applications it has Scout participation and what level of Scout was earned," she said.
CAMPING was a major part of their experience, as well. Joseph and Stephen went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, while Timothy went to Lenhok Sin high-adventure camp.
"Almost everything I did there was fun," Timothy said.
Joseph had an unforgettable experience watching the sun rise over a New Mexico valley.
"We got up at 3 and watched the sunrise in the valley," he said.
All three went to Paul VI High School in Fairfax. Timothy graduated this June, and Stephen will be a senior in the coming year.