Five friends reach Eagle status together
Obtaining Eagle Scout rank is the Mt. Everest of Boy Scout achievments. The final mountain to climb, Eagle Scout status is the toughest challenge of any Boy Scout's career, but thanks to hard work and determination, five local friends earned the accolade Sunday, June 18, at Resurrection Parish in West Linn.
Hailing from West Linn and Wilsonville, Troop 396 members Gregory Gandy, Joseph Dierckes, Charles Dierckes, Kevin Reed and Evan Kohne will join a special group of teenagers.. Nationwide, only 6 percent of Boy Scouts earn Eagle rank, which requires a minimum of 21 merit badges and 13 Eagle-required badges.
The final obstacle for any prospective Eagle Scout, however, is the Eagle community service project, which benefits an organization in the troop's proximity. Each Scout conducted their own unique project, connecting with community organizations to identify a need and then working with their troop to devise an action plan.
Gandy, a senior at Wilsonville High School, completed a landscaping project at Resurrection Parish for his Eagle project. Reed, a senior at West Linn High School, built a compost station and irrigation pipe rack for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District's CREST Center, and WLHS senior Kohne dismantled and replaced an unsafe wooden walkway at Oppenlander Field in West Linn. Joseph Dierckes, a junior at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, built and installed shelving in the band room at Athey Creek Middle School, and his brother Charles Dierckes, a senior at La Salle, refurbished the cross-country running track at Athey Creek.
Each project took months to organize and execute, but the future Eagle Scouts say it was work worth doing.
"It involved meeting with the director, asking what she wanted, and then following up with designs with how the shelving was going to look, how many instruments could be stored and so on," Joseph Dierckes says of his project. "It took a lot of planning in terms of drawing what I was going to build, budget, materials, figure out where the funds were going to come from, and then tools and what I would need to build the shelving."
"The whole process took about six months. I had some help from the church and they helped procure plants and things like that," Gandy says. "For me, it was getting all the materials and everyone at the same place at the same time that was most challenging, but it was really rewarding when it was finished."
While the five Boy Scouts are spread across three different high schools, they've known each other for years. There have been many meetings, badges and Scout trips over the years, which the group of friends say has made the journey to Eagle status that much more enjoyable.
"It's been wonderful to work with them, go on campouts, go to meetings and be able to collaborate," Joseph Dierckes says. "We've learned a lot and had a lot of memories and experiences I will never forget. Last summer we went on a 50-mile hike with the guys and we spent a week out there. It was just us and a couple adults, and it was one of those experiences that I'm never going to forget."
"Our patrol, we've been together since I started scouts," Reed says. "Most of us were in Cub Scouts together and we grew really close together. Some of them are lifelong friends, so to get Eagles at the same time is a really big payoff for us to celebrate together."
Reed will attend Western Oregon University in the fall, Charles Dierckes will enroll at the University of Washington to study bioengineering and both Gandy and Kohne will attend Willamette University. Reed has earned 27 merit badges and spent more than 75 nights camping during his time in Scouts, serving as patrol leader, troop scribe, troop historian and senior patrol leader during that time. Charles Dierckes started out in Scouts in Bratislava, Slovakia, coming to Troop 396 in 2010, and says his most notable badge is the Scuba Diving merit he earned at summer camp.
Kohne says his favorite Boy Scout memories are performing campfire skits, and he served twice as senior patrol leader and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Gandy joined Troop 396 when he was 11, and says his favorite memories include completing the Boy Scout mile swim in Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho and participating in a 50-mile hike last summer in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area in Washington.
Joseph Dierckes — the only junior of the bunch — will spend next year finishing out his high school career. He plans to mentor younger Scouts and increase his leadership before he graduates.
"Being able to share my experiences is definitely invaluable, but I definitely want to be a leader in the troop," Joseph Dierckes says. "I have experienced certain things in terms of planning, what we need to do in nature and what has to get done. I have some wisdom I do want to share, and taking a leadership role will help with that."
The four graduating Boy Scouts say leadership is the biggest thing they'll take away from their experiences. Whether it's surviving a 50-mile hike in treacherous conditions or taking the reins on an ambitious Eagle project, taking command and coming prepared are traits they've learned along the way.
"It's almost like a shortened version of growing up, moving up in Scouts and seeing yourself going from a student to a teacher," Kohne says. "And also just the qualities and skills that scouting brings each student. That's what I'll remember and take away from Boy Scouts."
"The big thing that I've learned and have noticed is that Boy Scouts helped me appreciate working hard," Reed says. "That's something I don't know that I would have learned with Scouts, and also cooperation and working with a team. A lot of times my patrol and I didn't see eye to eye, but we worked together and succeeded as a team."