A race to the finish for troop 365
By Celeste McNeil; photo courtesy of Corin Meibos
Local Boy Scout Troop 365 was busy in 2019. Boys in the troop earned 12 Eagle Scout ranks in 12 months. Eagle Scout rank is the highest level a Boy Scout can earn through Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The achievement requires countless hours of dedication, completion of a minimum of 21 merit badges and a service project benefiting the community and demonstrating leadership. The Eagle rank is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
On average, nearly six percent of eligible Scouts persevere to earn Eagle rank. Troop 365 had 80 percent of active scouts meet their goal in one year. Several factors contributed in so many boys accomplishing Scouting’s highest achievement. The largest factor was due to the troop’s charter not being renewed after December 31, 2019. Each Boy Scout troop must be chartered by a community organization such as a church or other service-minded group. Troop 365 was chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church announced in 2017 that effective January 1, 2020 it would no longer partner with BSA. With a hard deadline looming, Troop 365 got to work.
“We had a strong scouting culture among the families,” said Travis McNeil, scoutmaster. “They all were feeding off each other and encouraging one another to keep progressing. The 2019 deadline helped keep everyone focused until the end.”
Supporting each other, many Scouts participated in the 12 projects. “It felt like we were doing a project every weekend,” said one troop member. Another Scout said, “I really enjoyed seeing all the boys finish their Eagles. We strengthened each other. We had lots of laughs and fun while giving back to the community.”
The cumulative accomplishment means a lot to McNeil. He and long-time assistant David Hardin started as Webelos leaders when most of these boys were finishing elementary school and progressed with them as they journeyed through the Scout program. The years of volunteer service helped build relationships of trust and camaraderie within the troop.
“It was a pleasure working with these boys for the past five years. I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach them life skills. They are fine young men,” McNeil said.