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The journey to Eagle

Four Biddeford students become Eagle Scouts, the Boy Scout's highest honor.

Taylor Turgeon, Staff Writer

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Scouting isn’t just a walk in the park… or a camp-out in the woods. The Boy Scouts of America prides itself in citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness through many different activities and the goal for every Scout is the same: acheive Eagle status. Since it was first awarded in 1912, only five percent of all eligible Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout rank.

From that small percentage, four young men from Biddeford High School alone, sophomore Atom Dubois, sophomore Devin Cheetham-Wilmot, junior Lucas Husser, and junior Conlon Kane have received or are about to receive Scouting’s highest honor. Cheetham-Wilmot describes his Boy Scout journey as life-changing.

“I love it,” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “This is one of the best things that I do in my life. I just have a blast with it.”

While Cheetham-Wilmot and the rest of Troop 308 do occasionally go on camping trips, Kane stresses that the Boy Scouts offer much more than the stereotype.

“I feel like most people don’t realize we don’t just camp in the woods,” said Kane. “We actually do other stuff. It’s not all just sitting in tents in the woods.”

The “other stuff” the Scouts do include community service, fulfilling leadership roles, and mastering skills for merit badges in order to advance in rank. Each of the seven ranks have different requirements, with the Eagle being the most difficult to complete.

“You work through requirements, advancing up until you reach Life Scout, which is right before Eagle,” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “And with that, you have to do a huge project to benefit the community.”

Referred to as “The Eagle Project,” each aspiring Eagle Scout must plan, propose, and get approval for a project to give back to their community. Dubois and Husser both decided to build a few picnic tables for well-known locations around Biddeford.

“I made three picnic tables for St. James School,” said Husser. “I went to St. James up until 5th grade so I thought it was a good way to give back.”

Each project is specific to each Scout. According to Cheetham-Wilmot, he wanted to do something original and challenging. One of the first things that came to his mind was building a bus-stop-like shelter at the Rotary dog park made completely out of wood.

“There’s nowhere to hide if there’s rain or snow there [at the dog park], so we decided to just build a shelter there,” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “In the end, it was much bigger and a lot harder to complete than it was first expected to be.”

In the midst of planning his project, Kane was helping out at Westbrook Skating Rink and noticed the wooden skate supports were “broken and splintering with screws sticking out everywhere.” Concerned for skater’s safety, he decided to replace them.

“I went down to Westbrook Skating Rink and I built PVC skate supports for kids to use,” said Kane. “I was looking into different designs and I was going to build the same wooden ones but then I found a design that was a lot more cost effective and they would slide easier with smaller kids with the PVC, so that’s what I decided to go with.”

After completing the project and getting their required merit badges, each Scout must submit their final paperwork to be approved. All four boys came to the consensus that the paperwork is the most tedious part of the process.

“Keeping track of paperwork [is the most challenging aspect],” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “Not that many people want to do it, so it’s very difficult actually keeping up with it. That’s how some people even fail to do their project, or that’s the last thing that they need and they won’t do it just because of paperwork.”

Once all of the paperwork is approved, the Life Scout officially becomes the Eagle Scout. A ceremony follows, highlighting the journey of the Scout and awarding him a badge. According to Cheetham-Wilmot, the ceremony was emotional for both him and his family.

Lucas Husser

Lucas Husser

“I just felt so great,” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “It’s one of the moments that I will very much remember for the rest of my life.”

After years of hard work and determination, all four boys take pride in what they’ve accomplished.

It’s kind of breathtaking to realize that I’ve finished it.”

— Lucas Husser

.

With projects, badges, and paperwork, advancing from Life Scout to Eagle Scout could take anywhere from six months to two years, depending on the person. Husser was one who took longer.

“It took me two years [to go from Life Scout to Eagle Scout] mainly because I had a lot of setbacks,” said Husser. “I broke my collarbone two years ago, and then I tore my ACL last fall.”

Despite all the time it takes, the boys stuck with it because they thought the wait and the work was worth the reward.

“I was sticking with it because when you get Eagle Scout, a lot of doors open for you,” said Dubois. “It comes with a lot of opportunities, and it looks good on your resume.”

Dubois believes getting Eagle shows that you’re very responsible, active, and “you can take care of the job.” Kane agrees that achieving the rank is significant beyond Scouting.  

“It offers a lot of really great opportunities, like after high school, getting into colleges, and having it on applications,” said Kane. “And I think it just kind of helps build better people. I feel like a lot of the values that you learn in Scouting help a lot in life.”

Along with instilling values, Cheetham-Wilmot and Husser think being a Scout helps you grow into a responsible and prepared adult.  

“I’ve definitely matured over the years,” said Husser. “I’ve gained a lot of skills in leading and I just know a lot of life skills that could help me in various situations.”

Although it’s not required to stay involved once you achieve Eagle, all four boys plan to stick around to help and support the younger Scouts reach their goals. For Cheetham-Wilmot, he wants to make sure the younger Scouts have as good of an experience as he had and he stresses that being a Boy Scout is worth every second.
“While working your way through, you’re meeting new people, you’re finding interests in things you wouldn’t expect to be interested in, you’re finding career paths possibly, meeting friends, stuff like that,” said Cheetham-Wilmot. “It’s worth your time going through the program and even afterwards, if you want to use this for a resume or something like that, it looks good. It’s something to be proud of.”

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The journey to Eagle