While so many young boys join Cub Scouts as kids, very few stay the course and earn the prestigious rank of an Eagle Scout.
The requirements are rigorous: candidates must earn at least 21 merit badges and create and execute an extensive service project.
Those who do reach the Boy Scouts’ highest rank are in an elite group of men, many of whom go on to be famous leaders in their field. At least 40 astronauts, movie director Steven Spielberg, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are all Eagle Scouts.
Recently, Yulee teen Billy Appleton joined their ranks after an official “Court of Honor” was held to induct him. Appleton talked to us about the long road to become an Eagle Scout and he offered some advice for young boys just starting out as Cub Scouts.
Q: How many years have you been a part of Boy Scouts?
A: I was in Cub Scouts for a year in 2002, and I joined the Boy Scouts in 2007.
Q: How many merit badges have you earned over the course of those years?
A: 28 merit badges
Q: What was the toughest task you faced in your journey to become an Eagle Scout?
A: My peers would pressure me to quit, because they said it was “gay.”
Q: What was your favorite challenge?
A: My favorite challenge was to strive to be in first place in all of the obstacle courses and races, and I did pretty well at that.
Q: Tell us about your Eagle Project.
A: My Eagle project consisted of an in-ground fire pit with pavers surrounding it in the shape of a cross, with four benches around the pit. The project was constructed with the Men’s Group at Living Waters Church in mind. The pit will be used by the church and school.
Q: What would your advice be to a little guy just starting out in Boy Scouts?
A: Don’t listen to people that discourage you, telling you to quit and that you are “gay.” Only you can decide your future, so do what you think is best for you, and if someone says, “scouts is gay” simply reply, “Do you know what it takes to become an Eagle Scout?”
Q: What else would you like people to know about Boy Scouts? How has it shaped your life?
A: Boy Scouts can open many, many doors for you. Before scouting, I was not such a good kid, but with the help and guidance from my Boy Scout leaders I have become a successful man, and I have learned a lot of useful things and life-saving skills.
Q: What is your goal for the future (ie. in career/leadership)?
A: My goal in life is to earn a degree in mechanical engineering, join the Navy and go through BUDS/SEAL training and become a Navy Seal Officer, and have a beautiful wife and two kids.
FYI: Billy was the first scout from Troop 701 to make the rank of Eagle. If you’re interested in learning more about enrolling your own child in Troop 701, log on to troop-701.com. You can also call Scoutmaster Mike Harris at 904-310-9529 or email him at email@example.com.