Scouts welcome new Eagles to their ranks
June 11, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - It's been said "the fumes, car fumes and perfumes" are what keep many Boy Scouts from reaching the Eagle rank.
That can't be said of Daniel Gaston and Ric Heiges of Wiesbaden Troop 107 who were honored during an Eagle Court of Honor May 17.
"If I can make it, I think anybody can," said Gaston, Wiesbaden High School senior, who said the "typical teenager stuff," such as "sports, school and girls," were the distractions that challenged his focus.
Despite moving away in 2008 for a couple of years, Gaston was able to complete the requirements for the highly regarded achievement.
Not wanting to be like so many others, Heiges got his service project and 41 badges out of the way about three years ahead of the norm.
"I didn't want to be one of those rushing at the end," said Heiges, referencing boys who in the past had to squeeze in several requirements in a short period of time just before their 18th birthday in order to properly earn the distinction of Eagle Scout. "I went at a normal pace and got it accomplished within four years. If you manage your time wisely, you can do what you want to do."
There are seven requirements a scout must accomplish to earn Eagle Scout. Though the list includes being active in the troop, earning at least 21 merit badges serving in a position of responsibility, taking part in a scoutmaster conference and completing an Eagle Scout board, most scouts tend to stress out more over the requirement of planning, developing and leading others in a service project.
Gaston renovated a classroom in a local German school. He said he repainted and fixed walls in his little brother's classroom.
Heiges took a proposition from another scout's parent, and planted a butterfly habitat for Hainerberg Elementary School.
"Mrs. Pickering suggested the idea to me. The school wanted it done, and I took it since I wasn't doing anything else at the time. It was a lot of fun," said Heiges, who expressed his gratitude to the Wiesbaden Community Spouses Club for donations it made to help him obtain the materials he needed, and to the Advancement Via Individual Determination program where he learned personal management and organizational skills.
And while the main story was of youths achieving major milestones, the bigger story might be the success the troop has with minting Eagle Scouts.
Since 2000 the troop has recognized 43 young men with the distinctive honor; almost twice the number the troop honored from 1958 to 1998.
"It's about buying into the program instead of just punching a ticket to get into an academy or university," said Jeff Stone, scoutmaster for Troop 107, of the scouts he has mentored during his charge as scoutmaster. "That's what makes our troop so strong … those guys who remain to help the others make it."
While buy-in is favored, having knowledge enough to teach others is what the troop's scoutmasters demand.
"It's not about checking things off. It's about making sure they have the skills to move on and teach," said Mike Bradford, assistant scoutmaster, adding, "Once they've got it, they need to be able to teach it."
And it's the assisting part that the Eagle Scouts, who hang around the troop, look forward to and enjoy most.
"I love this -- it's pretty fun and I like helping the younger kids," said Andrew Parker, Eagle Scout since 2010.
"I plan to continue to help out with the younger members. They will need someone to help guide them and I think I can do that," said the newly inducted Heiges.
Where Stone gives credit for the troop's success to the boys, parents praise the role of the scout leaders. "They've got it figured out. They do a fantastic job getting the guys through," said Mark Gaston.
"The troop here keeps the boys engaged," said Bill Heiges, assistant scoutmaster. "It's exciting for these boys to be scouting in Europe."
Vincent Cozzone, Boy Scouts of America Transatlantic Council scout executive, said the volume of Eagle Scouts who come out of the group is a testament to the quality of the troop and the leadership.
"The scoutmaster works really hard to make sure these guys get what they need to be successful," said Joyce Schlosser, wife of a distinguished Eagle Scout and Transatlantic Council executive.
"These kids restore your faith in America's youth," said David Cain, Veterans of Foreign Affairs Post 27 junior vice president, who sits on the Eagle Scout board and whose post sponsors the troop. "They push their guys hard. They are not just checking the block. They hold them to a standard."
Individuals interested in Boy Scouts of America in Wiesbaden can contact Jeff Stone at civ (0611) 705-6191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.