TOMBALL TEXAS – On February 8, eight Boy Scouts were simultaneously awarded the prestigious Eagle Scout rank at a special Court of Honor held at New Kentucky Park. All of the young men are members of Troop 619, which is sponsored by the Lakewood Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orion District, Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Heard Robinson, the district executive for BSA’s Orion District, attended the event. He said, “I am glad to be a part of this celebration. I’ve never seen this many Boy Scouts receive the Eagle Scout award at one Court of Honor. It’s a wonderful thing to see eight young men honored at the same time.”
The Boy Scouts who were honored for achieving Eagle Rank were Sebastian Arzac, Ben Countiss, Coy Hatch, Sam Kennington, Drew Pulliam, Luke Stecher, Chris Valance and Nick Vallance.
Robinson explained that only about 4-5 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the Eagle rank. “A lot start out, but it’s not for everybody. These young men stayed the course. Congratulations to you, your leaders and the LDS Church. Now, go forward and make a positive impact on others’ lives.”
Frank Fults, Troop 619’s committee chairman, explained the requirements for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. “These young men completed six rank advancements. While in each rank they held leadership positions and provided numerous hours of service. They also earned a minimum of 21 merit badges. Finally, each young man organized and led his own service project to benefit his community. On average, each Eagle project took about 100 hours,” he said.
Chris Vallance, one of the honored Eagle Scouts, shared how he and his brother Nick got involved in Scouting. “Our neighbors invited us to a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. At first I didn’t think Scouting was my type of thing, but I liked it and stayed with it. I learned leadership skills, lifesaving, service to others and how to give back to my community. I learned to strive for high standards and values.”
Nick Vallance added, “Scouting is fun! I love hanging out with the guys, camping and campfires, playing capture the flag and just being outdoors with my friends. We don’t often get a chance to do these things in modern life,” he said.
Eagle Scout Ben Countiss said that his Scouting experience has helped him in an unexpected way. “When I entered Scouting, I had zero confidence, but now I have the confidence to do things that I would never have done without my Scouting experience,” he said.
Eagle Scout Sebastian Arzac learned to be self-motivated. “I had to work very hard for this, and my Scouting experience has helped me to know that I can accomplish anything if I work hard enough. Scouting has taught me the value of determination,” he said.
Ben, Sebastian, Nick and Chris were four of many prospective Eagle Scouts from multiple BSA troops who have recently made many sets of trash enclosures for Spring Creek Park in Tomball. Weldon Currington, park superintendent, has worked with Boy Scouts for 17 years to improve parks. “The enclosures have made the park look much better by cutting down on litter. These barriers prevent stray dogs from getting into the trash cans, so the park stays much cleaner. All of the Boy Scouts who have built these enclosures have done a really good job, and everyone who comes to the park benefits from their efforts.”
Eagle Scout Luke Stecher constructed a rock-climbing wall and installed it on the property of 1st CivDiv Warriors Foundation, which is a facility for wounded Veterans. The rock climbing wall is for the men to use for exercise and to challenge their bodies and minds. The design for the wall was drawn up by Cory Melancon, owner of the Stone Moves rock gym. Luke and other volunteers built most of the wall at Luke’s home and then completed the work after transporting it to 1st CivDiv’s Field Retreat, which is about 30 miles West of College Station. This service project gave Luke the opportunity to share his love of climbing and its benefits with men who have given part of themselves to defend their country.
Sam Kennington built a handcart that was used for a reenactment of a pioneer trek sponsored by Cypress Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The trek helped the youth of the church experience what life was like for pioneers who settled the American West in the 19th century. Frank McLane, Jr., a trek organizer, said, “Sam’s contribution in building one of the trek handcarts was invaluable! He raised his own funds through donations. I was so impressed with his efforts and the results.” Drew Pullium worked with the Bayou Land Conservancy and Cypress Creek Mountain Bike Association to install 13 sign posts on local mountain bike trails in Northwest Houston. Coy Hatch completed his project in Arizona.
“With my own personal witness of the Boy Scouts of America, I offer my enthusiastic encouragement for the support of this vital program through Friends of Scouting”, added Leah Christie of Tomball. “As the mother of two Eagle Scouts and two more working towards the rank of Eagle, I can attest to the immediate as well as the long term invaluable experience that all four of my children benefit from by their participation in the BSA.”
The Friends of Scouting campaign is a council’s annual giving campaign and may represent the largest source of funds for scouts. The campaign begins in November and goes through March, designating the Sunday that falls before February 8, the Scouting Anniversary Day, as Scout Sunday Observance.
Christie has served for 15 years as a BSA volunteer, including Scout Committee member as Merit Badge Counselor for Citizenship In The Community and Citizenship In The Nation. She observed, “No other organization has done more for boys to give them incredible adventure and unmatched training for life than the Boy Scouts of America, these are boys who progress to become young men prepared to serve others as leaders who do their duty to God and country.”
Photos by Edward Pulliam.