Tag Archives: scouting

Proud Mom of an Eagle Scout


I remember the first time he donned the blue uniform of a cub scout.

He was eight years old and strutted into the church building proudly wearing the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America. The next ten years were filled with campouts, high adventure, summer scout camp and weekly gatherings, as Rusty worked to fill his sash with merit badges.

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Scouting became a source of growth and place of friendships as hours were poured into this “extracurricular activity” that was so much more than an extracurricular activity. Unlike the many good activities there are for our children to be a part of, this activity was more than a babysitting service or a social outlet. Under the leadership of great men, Rusty grew into a great man. He learned skills far more valuable than fire building or rafting. It was while he was fire building and rafting he learned how to lift others, problem solve, be a team player, lead, stand for what is right, honor his country, and be a man of character.

Scouting grew my boy into a man that any mother would be proud of. He has learned valuable life skills and developed the character strengths spoken of in the Boy Scout law as he lives the Boy Scout oath:


It was his goal to earn his Eagle. This is an achievement only earned by 4% of Boy Scouts worldwide. It is an honor that requires a high level of commitment, dedication, time, effort and drive.

“Periodically, we read about a young man becoming an Eagle Scout and we know we should be impressed – but why?

If you have never journeyed through the life of a BSA Boy Scout you most likely only have a general idea of what is required to earn the coveted Eagle Scout Award. Furthermore, you are not versed in the detailed intricacies, and at times, the all-consuming day-to-day Boy Scout experience. A young man does not become an Eagle Scout within a few months; it takes years.

Advancement through the seven required ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle is not something one can teach in a short amount of time.

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Each rank is broken down into increments requiring the scout to master the skills of personal care and safety for one’s self, indoor sustainability, outdoor survival, and the ability to work with others; whether as a team or as their leader. Until the scout displays proficiency for what is required within each rank he is not able to advance.

The 21 required merit badges – 13 Eagle specific – are also challenging. Have you ever hiked 20 miles, listed the six functions of government as noted in the Preamble to the Constitution, or made a timeline of the history of environmental science in America? The Eagle Scout has. He had to accomplish tasks and learn large amounts of information to complete his Eagle required merit badges. These badges cover the spectrum of physical fitness – within the individual’s capabilities – to knowledge necessary for any college bound student.

Extensive service hours and service projects, along with living by the Scout Law: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent….

And hungry!

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This is the life of a Boy Scout.

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So, the next time you read of a boy who has just received their Eagle Scout Award – be impressed. This award was not handed to him, he earned it. It will not be one of those items packed away with the other trophies of his youth, but instead will be displayed in his daily actions and its quintessence will forever live in his heart.”

Chicago Tribune

While it is an elusive honor overall, Rusty has been blessed to have the example of many Eagle Scouts in his life, including his father, which only increased his drive to work to earn this rank himself.

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That desire, coupled with fantastic Scout leaders who have been a driving force in helping many young men earn this honor, led to the big day when Rusty and two of his fellow troop members received their Eagles.

This occurred the Saturday before Christmas. Despite being fully immersed in Christmas mode, the mothers of the other two Eagle Scouts (Bobby and Nate) and I met at the church to decorate for the ceremony.

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We collaborated our efforts, gathered our scouting decor, and transformed the gym into a venue reflective of the Scouting program,

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And one that honored these three boys and all their hard work!

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That evening we returned to the church to watch as the boys in the troop received dozens and dozens of merit badges earned over the course of the previous six months. It was hugely impressive and a testament to some amazing scout leaders and some hard working young men!

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When all the merit badges had been handed out it was time for the three boys receiving their Eagle to step forward and take center stage.

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Each boy shared with the room the details of their personal Eagle Scout project.

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One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit  the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.

Rusty’s Eagle Scout project was to build an outdoor riding area for Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non profit organization that pairs recued horses with special needs children through a therapeutic riding program. His project took the troop two long days of back breaking work but was a great blessing to that non-profit organization that could now increase the amount of sessions that could be offered each week.

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This project was completed a year ago but Rusty still had two Eagle-required merit badges that had to be earned for him to meet all his requirements. Rusty earned those with his troop this fall and was able to stand before family and friends on December 22nd to receive his award.

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Among those there to celebrate his achievement were his fellow Eagle Scouts, leaders, troop members and their families, Grace and Molly and Mimi Joy.

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The parents of the Eagle Scouts were then called to the front.

As part of the ceremony each Eagle Scout is given three pins, in addition to the medallion that is placed on their breast pocket and handkerchief that is tied around their shoulders.

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These three pins are pinned by the Eagle Scout on the lapel of the mother, the father and a person they consider a mentor,

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As a way of acknowledging the loving support that assisted them as they worked toward the goal of Eagle.

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Rusty chose to gift his mentor pin to Pete Grundberg, a man who has had an incredible influence on Rusty, both as a scout and as a young man. Pete’s dedication to troop 558, and his never ceasing effort to mold these young men, has led to many scouts earning the rank of Eagle. His influence has been great and it was a joy watching Rusty honor Pete as his mentor.

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He definitely deserves the recognition!

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Pete is one of many men who have been influential in Rusty’s scouting journey. It takes a tribe to raise a scout and how grateful I am for this amazing tribe of leaders and young men that are troop 558.


It has been an amazing ride with an epic conclusion!

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Congratulations to our newest Eagle Scouts! We are so proud of your achievement!

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One Step Closer to the Eagle




It has been 9 years since Rusty first donned the blue and gold uniform of the Cub Scouts. Since then he has spent endless hours learning skills, earning merit badges, camping, hiking, building fires, attending Scout Camp, and participating in service projects, all with the end goal of earning his Eagle.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill.

And we are proud to say that Rusty is one step closer to joining the 4 % who have earned that rank.

One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit  the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.

As Rusty considered possible projects he decided to approach the good people at Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization that he and his sisters volunteer at two mornings a week to see if they had any possible work projects on their wish list that he and his scout troop could bless them with.

Our family was introduced to Ready Yourself Youth Ranch a year ago as a possible resource for the older kids as we navigated the challenging/explosive behaviors that Ozzie was presenting at the time. Our family based therapy team thought the ranch could be a place of refuge that the older kids could escape to on hard days and allow them to benefit from the therapeutic affects of serving and blessing others.

My kiddos fell in love with the ranch and since that day have committed themselves to waking up early two mornings a week and driving to the ranch to care for the horses from 7:00- 9:00 am. Their responsibilities include feeding/watering  the horses, moving them to the pastures, grooming horses, and mucking stalls.

It not the most glamorous work, but my kids love it. They have found a place of refuge and peace among the dusty stalls of Ready Yourself Youth Ranch…

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And they aren’t the only ones.

“Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is a non-profit, Christian ministry that connects horses in need of rescue with children dealing with challenges and difficulties who need to learn about the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ. In 2010, the founders and directors, Micheline and Mathew Barkley desired to combine her broken childhood and his equestrian experience to rescue horses and mentor children facing conflicts and challenges of their own.  When God blessed them with fifty acres of land, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, they gathered a dedicated group of volunteers and mentors to bring their faith, time and talents to make RYYR a place where God’s love and grace enables horses and children to trust and love again.

Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is for children, ages 6 through 18, who are dealing with challenges and difficulties. We connect one child, one horse, and one mentor for ninety minutes of interactive experience, free of charge. Learning to care for and ride rescue horses, many who have come from environments of abuse or neglect, increases a child’s trust, faith and love. The overall aim of our session program is to love and encourage children which in turn will foster hope and joy.”

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When Rusty approached Micheline (the owner and visionary of the ranch) about projects on her wish list she quickly produced a list of possible projects Rusty could undertake for his Eagle Scout project. He decided that he would present the plan of constructing an outdoor riding arena for the ranch to the board to get approval. Once he received approval the dates were set for his Eagle Scout project.

The project took two Saturdays.

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The support of many made lighter work of what would have been a very arduous task!

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Dozens of fellow scouts, leaders, siblings, and friends from church answered the call and showed up ready to work.

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It was quite the undertaking but the arrival of many helpers was inspiring.

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Rusty couldn’t have done it without the generous support of so many helping hands.

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Here are photos of the many happy helpers and the project they tackled over the course of two Saturdays:

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In Rusty’s attempt to bless others, he too was blessed.

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We are so proud of this young man we call “son.”

A BIG “thank you” to all who have helped mold Rusty into the man he is today.



He is who he is thanks in part to leaders (both current and past) who have taught Rusty scouting survival skills and basic life skills that will benefit him as a man. We are grateful for the wonderful troop of boys who have grown up with Rusty, and the many friends and families who have cheered Rusty on as he has blossomed from a silent and timid little boy into a confident and caring young man.

It truly does take a village to raise a son…or at least an incredible Boy Scout troop.

How thankful I am for troop 558!

Smooth Sailing- Part 2



It has been a week now since the boys rolled back into town after their road trip/ sea trip adventure. As the days pass more and more stories of heroism, shenanigans, and the thrill of everyday chores when living on the high seas are shared. I continue to relish in the stories that are being revealed as time passes and have been jotting down notes so as to try and do a decent job retelling their story of adventure…a tough task when the writer wasn’t there to experience it herself.


Their time on the high seas quickly settled into a routine of sorts. Their days typically began around 6 or 7 am, when everyone rolled from their sleeping bags to begin their day.


Just like at home their day was filled with trivial tasks like teeth brushing:



And food preparation:123_1519962637018


Typical tasks that take on an atypical slant when done in the unusual confines of a sailboat.


Breakfast varied day to day but was typically a hot meal of some sort, prepared by the scouts with the assistance of Keith who graciously pitched in as sous chef.



Lunch occurred during the busier part of their day and as a result was usually a grab and go meal like sandwiches or snacks.

Dinner was another hot meal, prepared after the events of the day. As the sun set and the cabin darkened the addition of head lamps helped the scouts get dinner on the table.


Their meals were largely built around the pantry items they stocked at the start of the trip with the addition of seafood caught through the day.



Much fishing occurred each day and the troop was able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, feasting on meals of Jack Crevalle, Grunt, and lobster.




Yes, you read that right.

While we were home eating spaghetti and grilled cheese the scouts were feasting on fresh lobster.

Their captain explained that scattered through the waters of the Florida Keys are hundreds of lobster traps, many of which are ghost traps. Ghost traps are lobster traps that  have lost their distinctive buoy that brands that trap as belonging to a particular fisherman. After the most recent hurricane many lobster traps lost their markers and are now considered ghost traps; unclaimed by any fisherman, sitting on the ocean floor, catching and not releasing the lobsters within. The boys found a few of these ghost traps during their sailing adventure.


If ghost traps couldn’t be found in the waters nearby there was always the means of catching lobster with nets and a tickle stick. The boys would snorkel down to a hole in the rocks and prod the hole with a stick while positioning a net at the entrance of the hole. If it was the hiding place of a lobster they would come scuttling out, right into the net.


The caught lobster then had to be measured to ensure its maturity and if it was big enough it would end up in the supper pot.


Only on a Sea Base adventure do teenage boys add fresh lobster to their Kraft macaroni and cheese and call it dinner.


I was a tad jealous when I saw the pictures!


It seemed their days revolved around meals and sailing. The task of sailing their 44-foot sailboat fell mainly on the Boy Scout’s shoulders. They had an experienced captain to teach them the ropes and guide them along, but aside from the guidance they received from the captain 90% of the tasks were performed by the boys while the men sat back and enjoyed the ride.


As Crew Chief Rusty was given the responsibility of managing and assigning tasks, something far outside his comfort zone. He later confessed that he found himself often choosing to do the necessary tasks rather than assign jobs to others because it was more within his comfort zone. I see this is an area where we could use some work, but I can’t blame him. I am much the same way. I would rather be a hard-working Indian than a chief any day of the week.

Luckily, he was blessed with an awesome crew of guys who were more than willing to take on any task assigned to them. It was really a great group of boys and leaders.



Following a predetermined route, troop 558 made their way from Sea Base out into the ocean and onto Marathon Keys, their stop halfway through the trip. To leave the bay they had to pass under a drawbridge. With a mast reaching 40 feet in the air their boat didn’t fit under the bridge, so they had to wait for the scheduled hourly draw that lifted the bridge up into the sky and allowed the tall sailboats to pass underneath.

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As they sailed they had the opportunity to stop and snorkel at reefs along the way. The experience was neat and they saw some awesome sea life. Their only regret was that they sailed during a week of high winds which resulted in big waves and silty water. Which made swimming and snorkeling a bit of a challenge.


On Monday they arrived at Marathon Keys. They were scheduled to dock there for the night, fill the water tank, shower, restock supplies, and perform the service project that they were assigned by Sea Base, which was cleaning the restrooms and bath house.


Tuesday morning, they were back on the water and on the second leg of the trip taking them back toward Sea Base.


During the day, while they sailed from snorkel sight to snorkel sight,


most of the troop congregated in the cockpit around the scout who was at the wheel. This became the “living room” of their home away from home as they sat and chatted while sailing along.



Some would use the travel time to troll for fish.


While on the water they were privy to many wondrous sights including dolphin, barracuda, eel, puffer fish, sea turtles, and one shark sighting…



Not to mention the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that would bookend their days.



 Each night the sun would start sinking beneath the horizon around 6:00 pm and by 8:00 pm these weary scouts and their leaders were tucked in sleeping bags and falling asleep to the rocking of the waves.


Now that’s the life!


Kayaking Merit Badge


“A great American, John Wayne, passed away many years ago. One of his last public appearances was at a dinner. He was riddled with cancer and knew he was close to death. The purpose of the dinner was to benefit a land purchase for a Scout Reservation called John Wayne Outpost Camp. At this dinner, Wayne recited the Scout Law. Then he did something unusual, he said the twelve points of the Scout Law are “nice words”. “Trouble is,” he continued, “we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age, I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him, with a few things I have picked up in more than half a century since I learned it.”

Then Wayne proceeded to explain the importance of the Scout Law, breaking it down for the guests at the dinner, much like he would have for his grandson.”

TRUSTWORTHY The badge of honesty. Having it lets you look at any man in the eye. Lacking it he won’t look back. Keep this one at the top of your list.
LOYAL The Very word is life itself, for without loyalty we have no love of person or country
HELPFUL Part sharing, part caring. By helping each other, we help ourselves, not to mention mankind. Be always full of help — the dying man’s last words.
FRIENDLY Brotherhood is part of that word. You can take it in a lot of directions – and do – but make sure and start with brotherhood.
COURTEOUS Allow each person his human dignity which means a lot more than saying, “yes ma’am” and “thank you sir”. It reflects an attitude that later in life you wish you had honored more… earlier in life. Save yourself that problem. Do it now.
KIND This one word would stop wars and erase hatreds. But its like your bicycle, it’s just no good unless you get out and use it.
OBEDIENT Starts at home. Practice it in your family. Share it with humanity.
CHEERFUL Anyone can put on a happy face when the going is good. The secret is to wear it as a mask for your problems. It might surprise you how many others do the same thing.
THRIFTY Means a lot more than putting pennies away, and it is the opposite of cheap. Common sense covers it just about as well as anything.
BRAVE You don’t have to fight to be brave. Millions of good, fine, decent folks show more bravery than heavyweight champs just by getting out of bed every morning, going out to do a good day’s work and living the best life they know how against the law of odds.
CLEAN Soap and waters help a lot on the outside. But it is the inside that counts and don’t ever forget it.
REVERENT Believe in anything that you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you are just biding time.

All three of my boys participate in the scouting program. Rusty is a Boy Scout second class, Ozzie is a Blazer Scout, and Tyler is in Cub Scouts.

The attributes spoken about in the Scout Law are ones we value and encourage in our own children. I can’t think of a better model for living than this model laid out for the young men in the Scouting program.

Toby was very involved in the scouting program as a youth and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Every Wednesday the boys meet with their scout troop at church. We have encouraged them to actively work toward earning their own rank of Eagle Scout and have set the guideline that our sons can’t get their driver’s license until they have earn their Eagle. (The girls must earn their personal progress medallion…a spiritual goal based program offered through our church… before they can get their driver’s license)

We are blessed to have great boys in our boy scout and cub scout troop. We are also blessed with GREAT leaders that my boys enjoy and respond to. In a  world where trustworthy, kind, loyal, courteous men often go unnoticed or are even mocked, I am grateful for good men leading my sons by example…

faithful Scout leaders that reinforce the values we teach at home and make the experience fun.


This past week Rusty’s Boy Scout troop finished the last of  the requirements needed to earn their Kayaking merit badge. The initial skills were learned and practiced in the pool of a family at church. 🙂  Rusty LOVED working on this merit badge (what boy wouldn’t)?! They spent the last few Wednesdays preparing for the final task:

going down to the local river and applying the skills they have been studying. Rusty enjoyed being on the water. It was a perfect evening for it with nice weather and little wind.

Here’s a look at their time on the water…