Ten members of Greenwood’s Boy Scout Troop 4200 recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

This is the second-largest group to achieve the rank in about 15 years, said Floyd Melton, district committee chairman.

“Eagle Scout is the highest rank and the best achievement a Scout can achieve,” Melton said. “It stays with them for the rest of their life. It’ll stay on your resume forever, and what it stands for is that you don’t quit. You have determination.”

Those honored during a recent Eagle Scout ceremony held at First Presbyterian Church were Ethan Clark, Cavitt Cookston, Carter Huddleston, Turner Vaughn, Penn Camp, John Riley Poe, Charlie Stewart, Turner Haynes, Dhruv Patel and Arnav Thakur.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program. According to Scouting Magazine, since its inception in 1911, only 4% of Scouts have earned this rank.

The Greenwood troop, however, has had a much higher rate of success when it comes to Boy Scouts earning the rank of Eagle, according to Melton.

“I’ve always said this, and I firmly believe this: To become an Eagle Scout, you need four things. You need a good troop. You need good parents. You need friends in the troop with you, and you have to have determination,” said Melton. “You can get an Eagle Scout without one of those things. You may, but it’s very difficult, without two of them. But more than that, there’s no way you’re getting an Eagle Scout. We strive to make sure all four of those things are present.”

Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges, with 13 required.

In addition, “You have community service work, and the biggest thing at the end is the Eagle Scout project,” said Melton.

A lot of work goes into each Eagle Scout project, from planning to paperwork to getting permission and approval for the project. Then comes the project and hours of hard work. Each prospective Eagle Scout assembles a group of other Boy Scouts and leads the group in completing the task.

“They’ll spend 100 to 250 hours on a project easy,” said Melton. “It’s a great experience, and it’s actually what keeps a lot of kids from getting Eagle Scout because it becomes so daunting. But once the kids understand and start working on it, it goes pretty well.”

Dhruv Patel, a 14-year-old Pillow Academy student, worked on a project at Stribling Park, where he painted the gate and the park sign.

“I feel like I did something really good for the community and to represent Greenwood,” he said.

Eagle Scout project

Dhruv Patel works on his Eagle Scout project at Stribling Park.

Getting started on his project took some time.

“It took a while,” Patel said. “It took a week or so to get it prepared. It took a lot of work to do it.”

For some of the Scouts working on their Eagle projects in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic added some difficulty.

Melton said it was impressive that the Scouts found ways to safely work on their projects.

“It added a whole other layer of planning to be safe,” he said. “They always have to consider the safety aspect of whatever project they’re doing. It added another element to the safety aspect.”

Patel, who worked on his project in the summer, said the pandemic slowed him down a bit.

“I couldn’t call that many people” to assist with the project “because we had to keep 6 feet of social distancing. That was a problem,” he said.

After achieving Eagle, Patel said, “It feels good. A lot of hard work went into it. I’m glad I did it.”

He added, “I wanted to help out in the community, and I wanted to do it at a young age to show that you can be whatever age and accomplish something like this and to help out with the younger Scouts who want to become Eagle Scouts.”

John Riley Poe’s Eagle Scout project was also at Stribling Park.

Poe started his project in preparation for the 2020 spring baseball season, so he was able to complete it before the pandemic arrived.

The 14-year-old Pillow Academy student organized the assembling and installing of picnic tables at the fields.

The tables were purchased by the Junior Auxiliary of Greenwood for the Greenwood Exchange Club’s youth baseball program.

Eagle Scout project

John Riley Poe, center, works on his Eagle Scout project with assistance from his fellow Scouts Penn Camp, left, and Dhruv Patel.

“His crew put them together, and put them on the concrete pads at the fields,” said Poe’s mother, Tricia Poe.

Tricia Poe said her son worked “hours and hours” planning out the project and then completing it.

“I am very proud of him,” she said. “It was a long commitment. It did take a lot of work, on top of him taking honors classes at school.”

She said that the time and hard work John Riley, and the other Eagle Scouts, put into earning the highest rank showed that they were “determined to complete a task, and it was a long task.”

Ethan Clark, 19, had at one point quit the Boy Scouts.

“I never really thought that I’d ever get Eagle Scout,” said Clark. “There are not many people who get it. That’s why I got out of Scouts. I just didn’t think that was something I could do.”

But when some of his friends achieved the rank, Clark realized it was an attainable goal, and Melton encouraged him to get back in the Scouting program.

Now an Eagle Scout, Clark said, “It’s a great accomplishment. There’s been a lot of people who have told me it looks good on a resume, and I’m proud of myself.”

Clark is a 2020 Pillow graduate and attends East Mississippi Community College, where he is studying electrical technology.

For his Eagle Scout project, Clark cleared the brush surrounding the Pillow Academy sign at the east side of the entrance to where the grass can now be mowed. He completed the project in summer 2019.

For Boy Scouts members who may feel like achieving Eagle is too hard, Clark said, “Keep after it, and stay on the path.”

Penn Camp’s Eagle Scout project was very meaningful to him.

He did landscaping work on the side of his church, First Presbyterian, surrounding its sign. He mulched, planted flowers and Japanese boxwoods, and added brick pavers.

“It was my church and something I believe in and that I think is important to how I live my life and do things on a day-to-day basis,” said the 14-year-old Pillow student. “That was something I was pretty proud of for my church and myself, to tie my project to something I feel like is very important to me.”

He completed his project during summer 2019.

His mother, Allyn Camp, said she and her husband, David, “are very appreciative of the Scout leaders’ dedication and the time they give freely to help our boys achieve the rank of Eagle.”

Eagle Scout project

Penn Camp completed his Eagle Scout project in summer 2019. He landscaped at his church, First Presbyterian. After finishing the project are, from left, John Riley Poe; Camp; Larry Crawford, who helped oversee the project but has since passed away; and Charlie Stewart.

Now that he’s an Eagle Scout, Penn Camp said, “I feel like I’ll have more respect from other Scouts and people later on in life when I go to try to find a job.”

Many Eagle Scout projects over Troop 4200’s almost 60 years of existence are visible throughout the city.

“If you look around Greenwood, you’ll see a ton of Eagle Scout projects over the years,” said Melton.

“A lot of things you learn for the first time in Scouts, that are taught to you correctly with 100 years of thought going into it, from balancing your checkbook to camping to personal fitness, all sorts of different things,” he added. “I’m proud of our community for supporting the troop this long and putting as much effort into our kids for generations now.”

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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