It’s not unheard of, but it is rare — a dozen Eagle Scouts taking their oaths at once.
How does a Boy Scout troop produce so many Eagle Scouts?
Teamwork, of course.
Troop 181 of Lenexa swore in 12 Eagle Scouts in a ceremony Sunday night. The troop counts 40 active members.
The group of Eagles was big enough to get the attention of Kansas state Sen. Julia Lynn, a Republican from the 9th District, and commanders of veterans’ organizations, who attended the ceremony and presented the Scouts with certificates of citizenship Sunday, too.
Troop leaders credit the success rate to the boys’ growing up together and working toward the goal as a team.
“They’ve kind of just kept each other going,” said troop leader John Speckin.
Only about 4 percent of Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout. To get there, they must earn 21 merit badges and complete an independent community service project, among other requirements.
The Scouts have been together for years, and formed a tight-knit group through school, sports and Scouting. Nine of them went to grade school together, and several played on the same football and track teams in high school.
Troop 181 made an effort to help the boys keep playing sports while staying involved in Scouts at the same time.
Both require time and energy — and there’s school to think about, too. But the troop didn’t want to see Scouts drop out because they had other commitments.
“For us, it’s not either-or,” said Speckin. His son Andrew, for example played football and lacrosse while working toward his Eagle rank.
“We work it out so they can do both.”
Take the Feist brothers, Darin and David, who became Eagles together. They also both wrestle and play football for St. James Academy. Some of their teammates also became Eagles on Sunday.
It’s not always easy, Darin said. The troop leaders understand about the occasional missed meeting or campout during football season, but its up to the Scouts to finish the Eagle requirements on their own. For his community service project, Darin cleaned and landscaped an area at Holy Trinity Catholic Church where the troop meets.
“You really have to do it yourself,” Darin said.
For the Feist brothers, like many of the Scouts, it’s a family tradition. Their father, troop leader Doug Feist, and their two older brothers are Eagle Scouts. They have two younger brothers, too, who Feist hopes will grow up to be Eagles.
Including brothers, fathers, grandfathers and guests, there were dozens of Eagle Scouts at the ceremony Sunday.
It might not seem like that big of deal to some of the boys now, Feist said, but they’ll appreciate it later in life.
Jeff Bierbaum could attest to that, as he watched his son Matthew on Sunday. Bierbaum got his Eagle decades ago, but it still comes up in conversation, and he’s often surprised at how positively people respond to that. And at work, he’s watched it make a difference in job interviews.
“It opens the door,” he said. “It shows you’ve got a high level of character, some dedication and commitment.”