When Boy Scouts make the rank of Eagle, families usually have just one child at a time being honored. But in the case of the Whalen family of Centreville’s Walney Glen community, good things come in threes.
And Sunday afternoon, March 3, the three older Whalen boys received their Eagle Scout pins and badges in a joint ceremony at the Sully District Governmental Center. The youngest brother, Connor, is also a Boy Scout, but is just in his first year.
“I’m so proud of them for making it to the ultimate level of Eagle, and also for everything they’ve done for the community, the troop and themselves,” said their dad, Kevin Whalen. “They’ll carry this honor with them always.”
In Scouting, the Eagle represents strength of character and a person respected by his peers and leaders. It’s also the highest and most-coveted honor, signifying the completion of many years of dedicated effort by the Scout, as well as his parents and leaders.
The aim of Scouting is to mold responsible youth with leadership abilities, plus a strong sense of citizenship and community. Only 5 percent of all Scouts make it to the rank of Eagle, so it’s quite an achievement.
The three Whalen boys who accomplished it are Sean, 20, a JMU junior studying justice and criminology; Matt, 18, a Centreville High senior on the varsity baseball team; and Ryan, 15, a Centreville sophomore on the JV baseball team. They’re part of Troop 146, which meets at St. Timothy Catholic School in Chantilly.
Their Scoutmaster is Kevin Gaughan and their dad is an assistant Scoutmaster with their troop. And the boys’ family, friends and fellow Scouts attended their Eagle Court of Honor.
The trio presented mother’s pins and pendants to their mom, Patti Whalen, and maternal grandmother, Mary Ginty. Then their aunt Stacey Ginty helped give the boys their Eagle badges. After that, their dad and uncles Jimmy and Kevin Ginty presented them with their Eagle neckerchiefs. Sean also gave a pin to his dad.
“This is incredible and outstanding,” said Kevin Whalen. “Thanks for letting me experience Eagle Scouts through you,” he told his sons. “Our troop has had some great times, and you were a big part of that. To have three brothers making Eagle at the same time is unbelievable. Congratulations for being the 5-percenters. Your mother and I are so proud of you, and we love you very much.”
Then each boy took the podium. “It’s an honor to get this award, even though I [made this rank] three years ago,” said Sean. Gesturing toward his brothers, he explained, “I was waiting for these guys to finish. My Scout friends helped push me along; we all supported each other and so did the Scout leaders.”
Agreeing, Matt said, “Our Scoutmasters worked hard and endless hours helping us. We couldn’t have done it without all you guys.”
Lastly, Ryan added, “I want to thank my mom and dad. They were a core reason we did so well in Scouting and were able to attain Eagle.”
Each brother then presented a pin to the person who’d mentored them the most in Scouting. Sean gave one to Scoutmaster Bob Fick, Matt gave one to Scoutmaster Jon Bitto and Ryan did likewise to Gaughan.
“Along the way, all three boys developed some key attributes — perseverance, which is important for all of us; balance, which is critical in life; and confidence in their abilities,” said Gaughan. And, he told them, “You had these things in you all along. Your challenge now is to take these gifts and move them forward.”
Addressing the audience, he said, “These boys are shining examples of what Scouts stand for, and part of it is due to the efforts of their parents. I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished; congratulations.”
For Sean’s Eagle project, he and other Scouts built Civil War-style fences around a property granted to the Manassas National Battlefield Park. After the ceremony, he said, “It was great to share this with my brothers.”
Ryan was happy “that I finally accomplished what I’ve been working for, the past five years, and it helped me become a leader.” He did his project at the Mount Gilead house in the Centreville Historic District. “We saved and preserved two holly trees by removing invasive plants,” he said. “We also took out overgrown bushes and mulched.”
As for Matt, he was “relieved” to get his Eagle award. “It was pretty awesome,” he said. “It took a long time, but I’m glad I was able to stick with it and get this accomplishment.” For his project, he improved The Covered Way Civil War trail behind his house in Walney Glen.
“We distributed 11 tons of bluestone dust to finish the other half of the trail that another Eagle Scout, Sam Stout, had started,” said Matt.