By Paul BelloOctober 1, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Saturday was a special night for four local teens, as they joined the ranks of Eagle Scout with Fort Belvoir's Boy Scout Troop 118.
While standing before a crowded room of family and friends inside the Fairfax Village Neighborhood Center, scouts Nick Kellogg, Steven Funk, Joseph Samuels and Christopher Williams spoke glowingly on what the honor means to each of them.
Kellogg, a senior at Mount Vernon High School, began his scouting career several years ago as a Bear Scout while living in California. He joined Troop 118 in January 2007 and has served as patrol leader for its Falcon Patrol. This past summer, he culminated his time with the troop by successfully guiding eight other scouts and three adults on an exploration through 78 miles of New Mexico mountains.
To earn his Eagle badge, Kellogg gathered a group of fellow scouts and helped repaint the parking lot of Belvoir's Thrift Store - accomplishing the job in just two days. During his acceptance speech, Kellogg was quick to point out the support of all his peers and family, especially his mother, Sandy.
"Even though she's Canadian, she helped me a lot with becoming an American Eagle Scout," Kellogg said to a chorus of laughs. "This is something I take great pride in and being an Eagle Scout is something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. The skills I've learned, and people I've met, have made me a better person."
Like his friend, Funk also attends Mount Vernon High where he is a member of its football and lacrosse teams. He's been a member of Troop 118 for more than five years and has taken on several leadership positions, including patrol leader, quartermaster and troop guide.
He has been awarded numerous merit badges and has attended six summer camps and more than 50 troop campouts. His Eagle project was to refurbish the Belvoir youth baseball dugouts and concession stands. All total, Funk said he spent roughly two years with other scouts organizing, painting and cleaning.
For Funk, the evening's ceremony was especially poignant, as he was presented his Eagle badge by his father, Mark, the troop's scoutmaster.
He also presented an Eagle pin to Jaye Urban, the mother of his best friend Sean, who was unable to attend due to commitments with basic training.
"It's been 25 years since my father became an Eagle Scout and I now feel like I'm standing at the top of the summit with him. It's a great feeling," Funk said proudly. "He's not just my father, but my mentor.
Sean and I are best friends and I know I couldn't have done this without him, as well. Being an Eagle Scout helps me live and I notice that people look at me differently. They see me as a leader and that's very valuable in life."
Samuels has been scouting for more than 10 years, originally starting out as a Tiger Scout six years ago. A clarinet player in the West Springfield High School Concert Band, he also plays soccer and was recently honored as a student ambassador in a program that took him to schools in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The son of two Army officers, Samuels worked alongside other scouts in restoring the nature trails behind the Beth El Synagogue in Alexandria.
Besides picking up trash, Samuels also helped lay down wood chips to make it look nicer.
"I've grown and matured a lot in my time with Troop 118. I have much more confidence and I'm a better person because of my friends, family and fellow scouts," Samuels said.
"This troop has taught me to worry less about myself and to care more for others. It's a great lesson and that's how I want to live life."
Williams is a junior at Lake Braddock Secondary School and a member of its varsity football and basketball teams. A scholar-athlete carrying a 3.4 grade point average, he was introduced to scouting about 10 years ago by his parents, Darlene and Thomas.
For his Eagle project, Williams decided to take on the task of reorganizing the Belvoir Youth Club Warehouse. Along the way, he took inventory of all the equipment, swept the warehouse, labeled boxes, and cleaned all the helmets.
According to him, becoming an Eagle Scout is the ultimate achievement.
"I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends, especially Mr. Funk, who is like a second father to me," Williams said. "Eagle Scouts are an example that other scouts can follow and I'm privileged to be in such an elite class."
During his closing remarks, Scoutmaster Funk commended the four teens for their success within the troop and in the community. He said later becoming an Eagle Scout is the highest rank one can achieve through the Boy Scouts of America. Requirements include earning a minimum of 21 merit badges and demonstrating good spirit, service and leadership.
Funk added only four out of 100 scouts actually obtain the rank of Eagle.