Statistically, only about four percent of all Boys Scouts go on to become Eagle Scouts. Apparently, Monticello’s current Boy Scout troop doesn’t like conforming to averages: Troop 270 smashed that statistic in 2012, with 11 boys-a full one-fifth of their 52-member troop-earning their Eagle Scout award last year.
Dating back to its first Eagle Scouts in 1964, Monticello’s Troop 270 has never had more than five scouts become Eagle Scouts in a year, which only occurred in 2001, and typically between one and three local scouts achieve this milestone per year.
The road to becoming an Eagle Scout is filled with 21 merit badges and an Eagle Scout service project that puts the scout in a leadership position to complete a project that betters the community in some way.
Some of the other requirements include holding positions of responsibility and embodying the Scout Spirit, which means to follow the Scout Oath in daily life.
A scout must then go through a board of review, made up of local and non-local members of the Boy Scouts Association, to make his case for becoming an Eagle Scout.
Out of the group of new Eagle Scouts, two have taken their place in a family tradition. Nick Simondet is the fourth son in his family to become an Eagle Scout, and he even saved one of his older brothers’ Eagle Scout project as his own project.
The playground his older brother built at St. Henry’s Catholic Church was set to be torn down, but Simondet used his project to bring the playground back up to snuff so it could be saved, including moving it to a location allowed by building code and putting a sandbox around it.
Troop leader Sue Stone said Simondet is fondly referred to as the troop’s longest-running member, since he attended Boy Scout meetings and events while still in-utero.
Another 2012 Eagle Scout, Connor Gerads, is the third in his family to achieve this scouting milestone, and he joked that following older brothers into scouting means you must also up the ante on planning a more extravagant Eagle Scout project than predecessors in the family.
“I definitely won, that’s all I’m going to say,” he said with a smile.
Some of the community projects the scouts completed for their Eagle Scout project included repairing the Monticello Help Center, creating a Peace Pole at St. Henry’s Catholic Church, which is meant to create global awareness for peace, and several projects related to restoration of Lake Maria State Park or the Bertram Chain of Lakes Park.
Out of all the things a scout does to become an Eagle Scout, the young men admit that the Eagle Scout project itself is not usually one of their favorite projects to complete. They say it is stressful to be leading a project, and that “nothing ever looks the same as it did on paper.” The project requires a lot of patience to go through all the proper channels to get it approved and completed.
There’s a lot more to scouting than the Eagle Scout project, of course, and the group of 2012 Eagle Scouts turns boisterous as they describe what they love most about their scouting experiences. Some list-topping adventures are the “High Adventures,” which scouts are able to do every other year. These include either Sea Base, where the scouts lived on a sailboat for seven days off the coast of the Bahamas or Florida Keys, or Fillmont, which is where they live in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico for 10 days with only their 50-pound backpacks. One is definitely more work, the other more play, Stone said.
“For all around Boy Scouting, Fillmont is where it’s at,” said Austin Brandjord.
“With Fillmont, you’re also able to brag a lot more,” Joe Fasen added, though they all agreed Sea Base was a great experience as well.
The Scouts said they also enjoy their bi-annual trips to the Boundary Waters, where they test their abilities to carry two backpacks and a canoe at the same time to prevent having to make the portage more than once, a trip to the Black Hills and taking part in The Order of the Arrow.
Order of the Arrow is a group within Boy Scouts of scouts who embody cheerful service to others, and they meet up at a camp in Stearns County for untold adventures.
The 11 new Eagle Scouts either graduated last spring or will be graduating a few months from now, leaving their younger troop members to pick up the reins and hopefully following in their record-setting footsteps. Wherever the future takes them, these scouts will likely be prepared-as is their motto-for whatever life throws at them. After all, they have earned what has come to be called the “Ph.D of Boyhood.”
Freelancer Meghan Gutzwiller covers education and the Monticello School District.