Eagle Scout becomes youngest to summit 27,766-foot Makalu

MakaluEagle Scout Matt Moniz keeps raising the stakes.

On May 25, the 16-year-old became the youngest person to summit the 27,766-foot Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest mountain. A week earlier he summited the 26,905-foot Cho Oyu, Earth’s sixth-highest mountain.

Of course there’s one mountain taller than these and any other: Everest, elevation 29,029 feet.

As Men’s Journal reports, Matt and his dad had planned to summit Everest, which sits between Makalu and Cho Oyu. But a deadly avalanche on Everest back in April forced them to change their plans. Not only did they feel it was insensitive to climb after the tragedy that killed 16 Nepalese sherpas, but also the route they planned to use was destroyed in the avalanche.

I have a feeling Matt and his dad will be making another Everest attempt just as soon as the mountain allows it.

Their missed Everest try shouldn’t diminish the efforts of this Colorado Eagle Scout. Makalu, as Men’s Journal reports, “is considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb on Earth, requiring technical rock/ice climbing on the final ascent.”

Hear more from this impressive Eagle Scout in my pre-trip blog post.

Scouter honored for heroism during Navy Yard shooting

Navy Capt. Edward “Chip” Zawislak is a real-life superhero, and he learned those skills in Scouting.

Zawislak, an Eagle Scout and Scouter with Troop 903 in Southern Maryland, rescued and used first aid on a woman shot during the Washington Navy Yard attack on Sept. 16, 2013.

Yesterday, the BSA’s National Capital Area Council honored Zawislak (at center in the photo above) with its highest lifesaving award: the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. An average of four of those awards are presented per year nationwide.

A lone gunman, whose name I won’t include here, killed 12 during the shooting and injured three. One of those injured was Jennifer Bennett, who was shot in the chest.

As this Washington Post story explains, Zawislak and two co-workers carried Bennett up some stairs to the only open door they could find. It led to the building’s roof. Still unsure whether the shooter knew they were up there, Zawislak stayed focused and applied pressure to Bennett’s wounds for more than an hour.

Zawislak, 45, told another civilian to write a note saying there were four people on the roof and throw it down to police. Soon after, a police officer arrived, helped stabilize Bennett and guarded the door while the four civilians were rescued by helicopter.

Bennett made a full recovery and sat in the front row during Thursday’s ceremony honoring Zawislak.

Hearing Bennett recount to the Post the story of Zawislak’s heroism gives me goosebumps. What she describes is exactly how you’d expect an Eagle Scout to react in the most dramatic situation imaginable: Continue reading

From refugee camps in Myanmar to Scout camps in Utah

256px-Burma-CIA_WFB_Map_(2004)I believe every family needs Scouting, but this group of refugees might have needed it more than most.

As the BSA-affirming video below explains, a group of refugee families fled brutal government leaders in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 2006.

Officials in Myanmar forced these families out of their villages and burned their homes, churches, and schools. The refugees escaped and settled in Salt Lake City. Many of the young men joined Boy Scout Troop 1262, part of the Great Salt Lake Council.

The story gets even better: Under the guidance of Scoutmaster Bob Roylance, 11 of the refugee boys earned their Eagle Scout Award at a ceremony last month.

Many of these Eagle Scouts are straight-A students and have their eyes set on becoming attorneys, doctors and engineers some day. Doesn’t surprise me.

These young men had the strength to escape an unthinkable situation in Myanmar. Now Scouting has given them the strength to go wherever they want in life.

Take a look at the video below. Continue reading

These Eagle Scouts won three of NESA’s biggest scholarships in 2014

NESAEmblem_SpotYou’re going to want to meet Cody, Donald and Ryan.

These three Eagle Scouts won three of the National Eagle Scout Association‘s most prestigious scholarships in 2014 and have been spotlighted in a series of videos first shown at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May.

Take time to watch all three videos below.

First up is Cody Eckels of Troop 300 from Tyrone, Pa.. He received the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for his project that honors veterans with engraved pavers, military flags and statues complete with landscaping.

“I kinda grew up with Scouting,” Eckels said. “It showed me what’s the right thing to do and what’s not the right thing to do. … It really made me into the man I turned today.”

Next is Donald Martocello of Troop 601 from Moorestown, N.J.

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Robert Gates, Eagle Scout and former defense secretary, begins term as BSA president

national-key-3-2014The Boy Scouts of America today elected Robert M. Gates, Eagle Scout, former defense secretary and former CIA director as its national president. He officially begins his two-year term as the BSA’s 35th president today.

The BSA’s volunteer and professional delegates attending this week’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., voted to confirm Gates as president. You may remember I first blogged about his selection as president-elect in October of last year.

Gates will lead the National Executive Board and be the newest member of the National Key 3, which you can learn more about in the sidebar at right.

His election means that all three members of the National Key 3 are Distinguished Eagle Scouts. Impressive.

Speaking of impressive, Gates’ professional career — during which he served under eight U.S. presidents — is just as awe-inspiring as his Scouting career. He’s a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association, recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

His vision for why he wanted to take on this role proves that he believes in the Boy Scouts of America now more than ever.

“I can say without hesitation that my memories of Scouting are every bit as vivid and meaningful as what came later in my life,” Gates said. “I believe every child deserves an opportunity to experience what Scouting offers.”

Wayne Brock, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive and another member of the National Key 3, officially welcomed Gates on behalf of the BSA.

“As one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber,” Brock said, “Dr. Gates is a shining example of how our organization positions individuals for success, and he will be a great ambassador for sharing the Scouting story throughout the country.”

Scouting magazine spoke with Gates earlier this year and published the interview in our May-June 2014 edition. Read that interview after the jump.

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Ask the Expert: Who approves the Eagle Scout Project Final Plan?

expertlogo1Trevor, a Life Scout, recently got his Eagle Scout Project Proposal OK’d by his unit leader, unit committee, the project beneficiary and his council or district.

With that complete, next up in the process is filling out a Final Plan, which the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook says is a tool for the Scout’s use only. Nobody approves it, though it’s recommended Trevor share it with his project coach.

Here’s where a little bit of tension arises.

Trevor (not his real name) asks his Scout leader whether he can simply begin work on the project and complete the Final Plan section of his Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook after the project is completed. In other words, he’d essentially be creating an after-action report rather than a plan.

Eagle Scout Service Project Final PlanHe wants to take a “wing-it-as-I go” approach to planning the project and write down what he does as he does it.

His Scout leader — we’ll call him Paul — isn’t sure how to respond. There are no Scout leader approvals required at this stage. So he coaches the Scout to encourage him to develop a plan before beginning the project.

It works, and Trevor agrees to complete the Final Plan.

However, because Paul’s approval isn’t required, Paul wonders what would have happened if Trevor refused to complete his Final Plan in advance of beginning work on the project. Trevor, Paul tells me, tends to challenge authority and might have said, “it says I don’t need your approval, so I’m going to do it my way.”

So Paul wrote me asking, “Is there any mechanism in place that requires a Scout to complete the Final Plan of the Eagle Project Workbook before beginning work on his project?”

Michael Lo Vecchio of the BSA’s Content Management Team helped me find the answer, which you can find after the jump. Continue reading

Imagine Dragons and its Eagle Scout lead singer score 5 Billboard Music Awards

billboard-logoIf you’ve never heard of Imagine Dragons, ask a couple of your Scouts to get you up to speed.

Or check out the list of winners from last night’s Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.

The rock band, fronted by Eagle Scout lead singer Dan Reynolds, won five awards last night, including Top Rock Artist and Top Rock Album. To think that just 10 years ago, Reynolds, now 26, was receiving the BSA’s top rank as a member of a Scout unit chartered to the LDS church in Nevada.

By the way, that’s Reynolds second from the left in the photo above.

The Billboard Awards show, which aired on ABC, was watched by an average of 10.5 million people. Great numbers, but nothing compared to the 177 million times their hit single “Radioactive” has been viewed on YouTube, as of this writing. (Watch it below)

Nominees are selected based on album and digital singles sales, radio play, tours, streaming, and social media presence. Here’s a complete list of the awards Imagine Dragons won last night: Continue reading

How did the Eagle Scout do in ‘The Amazing Race’ finale?

Talk about great odds. Eagle Scout Connor O’Leary and his dad, Dave, had a one in three shot at winning $1 million in last night’s season finale of The Amazing Race.

Appropriate to any discussion about odds, the 35,000-mile race around the world ended in Las Vegas.

As I mentioned last week, Connor, 22, earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005 as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council. But could he and his dad become the first parent-child team to earn the title of The Amazing Race champions?

Find out after the jump. Spoilers, of course, follow.

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Father-son team on ‘The Amazing Race’ includes Eagle Scout

He’s already earned Scouting’s highest honor, so racing donkeys in Italy, dancing in Malaysia and becoming a barber in Seville, Spain — all with a million bucks on the line — seems like a cake walk for Connor O’Leary.

Connor is the younger half of the “David & Connor” father-son team competing for $1 million on the Emmy-winning CBS reality series The Amazing Race. The 22-year-old earned the Eagle Scout Award in 2005 as a member of the Great Salt Lake Council.

We’ll find out whether Connor and his dad can win it all in the show’s season finale, airing at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) Sunday, May 18, on CBS.

Connor has impressed viewers this season as he and his dad traveled 35,000 miles to far-off destinations including China, Sri Lanka, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Maryland mom raised all seven of her sons to become Eagle Scouts

Talk about setting the bar high.

Mary Agnes Lewis, 86, was honored by the Baltimore Area Council earlier this month as its first Eagle Scout Mom of the Year.

Her accomplishment? Helping all seven of her sons achieve the Eagle Scout Award.

She received her award — “a very shocking surprise,” she called it — at the council’s second-annual Eagle Scout Mom Thank You Reception.

I can’t wait to see who they give the award to next year, as seven Eagles in one family isn’t something you find every day.

Lewis and her husband, Fred, have 10 children, and all seven boys earned Scouting’s highest rank. As reported in this article in the Baltimore Sun, the youngest son is now 42 and the oldest 62. They live as far away as Arizona. But during the Eagle Mom reception, each talked about his Eagle project as if it had just been completed. And each expressed his gratitude to the woman who made it all possible.

On Mother’s Day, what a great reminder that almost everyone who earns the Eagle Scout rank, myself included, had the help of a phenomenal mom to get him there.  Continue reading