By Sue Moore
“Scouting is about more than just building a campfire or tying a knot. It’s about becoming a leader and learning to challenge yourself every day,” said Clayton DeVries. As a member of Troop 254 in Schoolcraft, he had just earned his Eagle Scout rank, the highest honor a young person can attain in scouting, along with Scott Macfarlane, Matthew Dickerson, Cole Richter and Jared Lynch.
The Boy Scout Court of Honor was held at the Schoolcraft Masonic Lodge at the end of November to finish the journey of these five boys to become Eagle Scouts. The leaders of their troop were there to commend them, including Scoutmaster Scott Macfarlane, Assistant Scoutmaster Steve Dickerson and committee member Phil Marks.
It takes completion of 22 merit badges to become an Eagle Scout according to Marks, who often acted as a counselor to the boys as they were pursuing their dream. Twelve badges are required. One is first aid: If a boy is out in the wilderness and gets hurt he needs to know how to patch himself up. There are 118 possible merit badges, some of which Marks characterized as “growing” opportunities.
Marks had a major influence on the five boys. He and the elder Macfarlane came on board for Troop 254 early in 2007 and helped to grow the troop through outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking and other high-adventure sports. He also volunteered as equipment coordinator to make sure everything got back into the scout trailer in good condition.
Cole Richter said he “joined Scouts looking for some hobbies. I not only gained some hobbies, I learned a love of outdoors and found lifelong friends.”
The younger Macfarlane said, “Being in Boy Scouts has just made me a better person. I’m more caring and empathetic because of what I’ve learned with Scouts. It’s made me believe in working for change to make things better.” His dad, Scott, has been scoutmaster since his son was a Tiger Cub and is an Eagle Scout himself, having achieved this as an Escanaba resident. He is now an industrial hygienist for Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, having lived in Schoolcraft for the last 12 years.
Matthew Dickerson, whose dad, Steve, has been assistant scoutmaster during his growing up years, said, “I decided to join Engineers Without Borders because of my experience with Boy Scouts. I want to go to another country to help others, and I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do that without my scouting experience. I know that I can survive on my own in almost any conditions.”
There is lots of competition for kids’ time these days, Marks said, which makes it an even greater accomplishment to become an Eagle Scout. “Boys go through the same phases no matter their background. It never changes. At 11 they are full of it, at 12 they settle down a little bit, at 13 and 14 the hormonal instincts start to kick in, at 16 they start driving cars and at 17 it’s all about girls. To become an Eagle Scout like these young men did, I ask myself, ‘How the heck did they do that?’”