EDGEMERE – Six individuals were promoted to the rank of Eagle Scout during a ceremony on Aug. 19 at Hughes Memorial Presbyterian Church in Edgemere.
Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in the Scouts BSA (formerly called the Boy Scouts of America). The six individuals in Edgemere to earn the prestigious award were Nick Duncan, John Fisher, Brenden Schoeberlein, Brice Thon, Nelson Vilche and Oscar Vilche. All six belong to Troop 427.
“As with all of our scouts that make it to Eagle, it’s a huge accomplishment,” said Chris Dernoga, scout master of Troop 427.
“They start very young. All of them have been in scouts for a long time. It takes a lot of perseverance and fortitude to make it as far as they did.”
To become an Eagle Scout, scouts are required to earn at least 21 merit badges, including badges for first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, cooking, physical fitness, emergency preparedness or lifesaving, environmental science or sustainability, personal management, swimming or hiking or cycling, camping, and family life. Scouts are also required to be active in their respective troops for a minimum of six months as life scouts.
“They have to have various leadership positions in the troop,” Dernoga said about the necessary requirements for Eagle Scout. “They all have to perform not just the Eagle Scout project, which is very involved, but service all along the way. The fact that they all stood up here as Eagle Scouts shows the fortitude and perseverance that they have.”
Duncan described receiving his Eagle Scout badge and officially receiving the title as surreal.
“It’s been eight years coming, Duncan said. “It’s kind of weird seeing it happen.”
Duncan said that his older brothers both are Eagle Scouts, and they had told him in the past how great it is to be Eagle Scouts. He decided to follow in their footsteps.
Duncan’s call to service isn’t ending any time soon. He enlisted in the United States Navy, and will be a corpsman (hospital medic) after completing basic training.
In addition to receiving his Eagle Scout award, Thon was recognized for completing the American Legion Boys State program, a participatory program where each participant becomes a part of the operation of their local, county and state government. During this week-long program, participants are familiarized with legislative sessions, court proceedings, law enforcement presentations and also experience band, chorus, assemblies and recreational activities. Thon said he completed the program in 2017.
“It was more so teaching you about the government, a learning experience,” Thon said.
“It also teaches you how to march in step and how to work with others. There were others where, at first you didn’t get along, but over time we all grew a brotherly bond and worked together to get the goal done.”
The presentation began with a separate award ceremony. Dernoga was awarded with the District Award of Merit by the Baltimore Area Council Chesapeake District. The award is presented to registered adult volunteer scouters who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level, according to the Baltimore Area Council’s website.
“It’s probably an award because I’ve been around for so long,” Dernoga said. “I was a scout when I was young, and I ended up working for the Boy Scouts at a camp. I knew how important the program was and how well the program does shaping the lives of kids. When I had my kids, I wanted to get involved and get them involved, so I got back involved in cub scouting and boy scouting.”
Dernoga said he began as a cub scout when he was in the first grade. He became an Eagle Scout when he was 18 years old and worked at a Scouts BSA camp while in college. He took a short break, he said, but became involved again when his oldest son entered the first grade.
“When you think of scouting, you think of camping with tents and backpacks and all that stuff, and that’s kind of how we teach things,” Dernoga said. “But, it’s the other things you learn along the way. It’s the leadership. It’s the self-reliance. It’s the independence. It’s all those skills that you learn along the way. All that camping and outdoors and all the cool stuff that you do, that’s how you learn those skills. I don’t know of a better program to teach them.”
Scouts BSA is open to all youth between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. Those who are interested or are seeking information can visit the program’s official website at www.scouting.org.