For Boy Scouts across the country, hard work and determination will pay off as some achieve the highest rank in Scouts: The Eagle.
Clay Heafner, sophomore at West Lincoln High School, is currently working on his.
â€œIâ€™m constructing a playground for my church, Crouse United Methodist,â€ Heafner said. â€œI also put up a basketball goal that was donated.â€
Only about 4 percent of scouts attain their Eagle Scout rank, the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America organization.
â€œIt takes a lot of time and want to become an Eagle Scout,â€ said Darrell Smith, former scout leader. â€œClay seems to fit that. If anyone could be an Eagle Scout, he could do it.â€
Smith said most boys drop out of their Eagle Scout project when they become distracted with their drivers licenses and girls.
Those hoping to become an Eagle Scout must fulfill requirements of leadership, services and outdoor skills. It takes 21 badges to even be allowed to start an Eagle Scout project.
There are six ranks a scout must go through by passing specific tests that are organized by merit badges and other requirements.
â€œYou start off as a Tenderfoot, then First Class, then Second Class, then Star, then Life and finally Eagle,â€ said Smith. â€œThereâ€™s a series of surviving in the wilderness, you have to know about religion and demonstrate leadership.â€
Scouts must be willing to work with the other boys in the troop. As each scout moves up in rank, they must teach the younger boys the ropes of scouting.
The entire Scouting process takes a few years.
â€œIt took me four years and it can take anywhere from four to five years,â€ Heafner said. â€œAs soon as you start your Eagle Scout, it takes about the whole year to get finished.â€
Before starting a project, scouts must present a detailed plan to the local Eagle Scout board.
â€œItâ€™s not an easy task, it takes a lot of devotion and a lot of kids give up,â€ said Smith. â€œThe hardest part of the eagle project is the paper work.â€
Once the local board approves, it moves to the national Eagle Scout Board. After final approval, the scout works until completion.
For Heafnerâ€™s project, he decided to serve his churchâ€™s needs.
â€œItâ€™s a kit that was bought with instructions and a diagram of how to construct it,â€ Smith said. â€œThe Eagle Scout himself doing the Eagle project isnâ€™t suppose to do any of the work, but show the other scouts how to do this project.â€
Once Heafner completes his project, he will attend a ceremony held to honor him and other Eagle Scouts.
â€œItâ€™s usually held in church, and the mother and father are awarded a pin and a scout is awarded the Eagle rank and badge,â€ Smith said.
Heafner believes the skills he learns in scouting will help him with his future endeavors.
â€œIt helps people get into college and get better jobs,â€ Heafner said. â€œIf someone sees that youâ€™re an Eagle Scout, they know that youâ€™re experienced in leadership and that you know how to lead.â€
Smith agrees. He believes the Scouts take away and benefit from the program.
â€œThey take away responsibility,â€ Smith said. â€œWhen you become an Eagle Scout, if you decide to go to the military, you will have an advancement. Itâ€™s like being two steps ahead of everyone else.â€
by Maribeth Kiser