Senior Eagle Scouts with current and former Troop 55 Scoutmasters. From left: Brad Hodge, Gary Pan, Clayton Barber, Garrett Pan, John Studabaker, Neil Patil and Bob MacKichan.
Completing over 150 merit badges and more than 2,100 requirements collectively, seven Troop 55 Boy Scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in Great Falls. Clayton Barber, Kyle Dear, Brad Hodge, Garrett Pan, Neil Patil, Grant Smith and John Studabaker joined the less than 2 percent of Boy Scouts who reach the rank of Eagle Scout. These Scouts each completed a service project, serving as project manager for more than 100 man-hours of volunteer time to improve their community.
Barber refurbished a storage room at St. Thomas a Becket Catholic Church, building shelving and reorganizing their entire inventory. Barber learned that "organization is a huge step into doing this efficiently." Barber’s favorite merit badge was swimming because it is a critical life skill. Barber’s greatest lesson, "You need to be prepared for anything."
Dear built two waterproof portable wheelchair ramps to assist in the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly-fishing and fly tying education. Dear’s favorite merit badge was swimming because to earn the merit badge you had to blow up everyday clothing to serve as life jackets in order to save yourself or someone else. Dear learned from Scouts, "It is important to be clear when giving direction and multi-tasking is an important skill."
Hodge led a community-wide collection for the Northern Virginia Family Service Thrift Shop. He learned that with enough notice and reminding, people will respond. Hodge’s favorite camping outing was a Gettysburg trip with winds exceeding 60 miles per hour. "We almost lost a few tents while packing up," said Hodge. His favorite merit badge was archery because, "I happened to be quite good at it." The most important thing he learned from his experience in Boy Scouts was, "Things won’t get done unless you do them."
Pan’s Eagle Scout project at Wolf Trap National Park educated consumers about recycling of electronics and included collection of electronics to be recycled properly. Pan’s favorite outing was a summer camp at Blue Ridge Scout Reservation where he did a high adventure that included white water rafting and rock climbing. His favorite merit badge was Wilderness Survival which required spending the night in a shelter created using only natural resources. "I liked it so much, I did it again at another summer camp, even though I already had the merit badge" Pan said.
Patil’s Eagle Scout project took place along the bank of the Potomac River where he led a group of boys building a 185-foot split rail fence to protect viparian vegetation and to prevent erosion. "The great thing about Boy Scouts is you can follow anything you have an interest in," Patil remarked. Patil was curious about Meteorology, so he earned the weather merit badge. Patil’s lesson from scouting was to persevere through challenges, "There were so many times when I wanted to quit Boy Scouts because it became a challenge. Looking back however, I am extremely happy I stuck with it. The view at the top of any mountain is always the prettiest."
Smith built a stage at St. Francis Church in Great Falls to be used by the pre-school children. "It felt great to provide a resource for kids, and give back to the church that sponsors our Troop," Smith said.
Studabaker’s greatest memory was a challenging day at the Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico on a 13-mile climb. Studabaker remarked, "After eating lunch at the Tooth of Time, we started the downhill trek. It started to pour rain, so rather than covering our packs and putting on raingear, we started sprinting with 40 pound packs on our backs." For his Eagle Scout project, Studabaker built an 8-slotted Kayak Rack at Riverbend Park. The rack was built to provide weather protection during the boating season. Studabaker learned, "You are only a teenager once in your life. Enjoy it while you can. But never shy away from taking risks."