Few Scouts ever reach Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America Organization. Even rarer is a family with three teenagers earning the rank of Eagle Scout.
And even more remarkable: Two of those siblings are girls who are part of the first-ever group of female Eagle Scouts.
Three members of the Becker family completed the lengthy list of Eagle Scout requirements last year: Aiden, age 16; Evelyn, age 15; and Elisabeth, age 14.
To reach the Eagle rank, Scouts have to earn 21 merit badges, take on extra responsibility in their troop, and complete a service project. All three Beckers completed projects to benefit the school they previously attended, Columbia County Christian School.
Though the Beckers all now attend Scappoose High School, their family is still closely connected to the school through their church, Warren Community Fellowship.
CCCS is a small private school operating out of Warren Community Fellowship buildings. For nearly a decade, the school has been working toward moving to new facilities. The Beckers' projects improved land that the school currently uses for outdoor education, on a parcel that will eventually house the school building.
For his project, Aiden Becker created a quarter-mile trail along the property. After Christmas 2019, Aiden collected old Christmas trees and ran them through a wood chipper, creating bark chips to line the trail.
Aiden Becker came up with the project idea in consultation with Scott Winegar, a fellow church member, and husband of CCCS administrator Beth Winegar, who is leading the relocation of the school. Scott Winegar said teachers at the school had asked for a path around the property where students could exercise and learn in view of local ecology.
Aiden Becker was still working on his project when the pandemic hit.
"It made things a lot slower. I couldn't have other Scouts, other than my family and my beneficiary's family, help me," he said.
Aiden Becker passed his board of review, which is the final step to becoming an Eagle Scout, in September.
The Scouts BSA program is open to kids 11 years and older, but many participants start out in Cub Scouts, which is for kindergarteners through fifth-graders.
Aiden Becker said he started in Scouts roughly four years ago, meaning that even as a middle-schooler, he was older and less experienced than many of his fellow troop members. He said the absence of older Scouts to guide him was initially a struggle, but he found guidance from higher-rank Scouts who were slightly younger.
Soon after joining Scouts, Aiden Becker learned about the Eagle Scout rank and decided he wanted to work toward it. He was motivated in part, he said, by wanting to leap ahead of other scouts who had been in the program for longer.
He said he initially joined because he liked camping. When he joined, girls weren't allowed in the Scouts program.
"I kind of wanted to do it to do something to get away from my family, and then they all joined," Aiden Becker quipped.
Both Evelyn and Elisabeth Becker said they wanted to join Troop 5294 after seeing their brother's involvement. Their parents, Amanda and Larry, also got involved in the troop, serving on various committees.
Amanda Becker had been involved in Cub Scouts in the past, two decades ago, when the two oldest of her seven children were young kids.
Amanda Becker said the experience has brought the family closer together.
"I have watched each of them grow and mature in so many ways" through Scouts, she said. "There were times they may have wanted to give up when things were hard, but with encouragement, they kept going."
Elisabeth and Evelyn Becker joined the troop on Feb. 1, 2019, the first day that girls were eligible to join troops nationwide.
Evelyn Becker said she wanted to become an Eagle Scout since she joined the troop.
Elisabeth Becker said that she wanted to try her best to become an Eagle Scout, but wasn't sure she would. But as she got closer, reaching the Life Scout rank that is second to Eagle Scout, she realized the top rank was within reach.
Evelyn Becker's Eagle project was to install a fence on the school property, between the walking trail and a ditch.
Elisabeth Becker's project was to build a pedestrian bridge along a path CCCS students walk to get to different facilities used by the school. The terrain required that students walk in the roadway for a short distance, but her bridge allows the students to stay off the road.
The family affair was a particular asset given the COVID-19 pandemic. Aiden Becker's project was already in the works when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but all three kids had to adjust their plans during the pandemic.
Typically, Scouts can plan big work days where other troop members assist. But because of the pandemic, the Beckers had to do most of the work with only their immediate family and Scott Winegar.
"I expected to need to prod them, but I did not. They were self-motivated and set their own standards," Winegar said. "The weather was nasty. It's the kind of thing that would dissuade the average teenager from doing that, and all three of them just stuck with it and worked really hard."
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