Stephen completed his final requirement to become recognized as an Eagle Scout back in January, but wanted to wait until the late Spring to have his Eagle Court of Honor (ECOH in scout-speak) outdoors. The scheduling and the style of the ECOH is typically arranged in a cooperative fashion between the Eagle’s family and the troop.
Stephen indicated that he’d rather have less pomp and circumstance and more of a “family” feel to the program by meeting informally outside. Besides, scouting is a program that normally happens outside, too.
As a family, we considered going to a scout camp, or renting a local park pavilion, but in the end settled for meeting on the front lawn of our church and chartering organization — First Baptist Church of Hackensack, NJ (a General Association of Regular Baptist Churches or GARBC fellowship member). This would assure that guests could easily locate our ceremony, have ample parking and seating. We also would be able to use the church facility in case of poor weather.
About a half hour prior to the start of the program, scouts set up chairs for adults and spread a tarp for younger scouts to sit on the grass. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, a gentle breeze came to refresh the guests and participants.
We began by having Stephen welcome everyone to the ceremony and then introduce the Master of Ceremonies for the evening – Scoutmaster Emeritus (Troops 777 and 2678) Eric Maynard. Eric had his own welcome for the group, including his remembrance of participating on Stephen’s Eagle Scout Board of Review. Specifically how Stephen passed Eric’s “every Eagle applicant must either cry or sing” test by doing both (ha, ha — a little scout humor, there!)
Following a flag ceremony and pledge of allegiance, Pastor Kevin McGuinness of Cornerstone Bible Church offered an invocation. Pastor McGuinness has been Stephen’s biblical worldview teacher for several years through North Jersey Home Schoolers Association.
Scoutmaster Farrell provided an overview of the challenges associated with becoming an Eagle Scout (typically about 325+/- specific requirements, community service projects, demonstrating leadership within the unit, etc.) and Scoutmaster Maynard read selections from various letters of commendation and encouragement that were sent to Stephen from teachers, family and mentors upon learning of his accomplishment.
Here are several select quotes from letters received:
- Michael P. Farris, the Chairman of Home School Legal Defense Association commented that “…there is nothing more important than a willingness to serve those you have been given the responsibility of leading, as I am sure you have learned by your participation in your Eagle Scout project. Thanks to your hard work and leadership, it sounds like your church is enjoying a beautiful new sound room.
- A local scouting celebrity and fellow Eagle Scout, Bob Stroup offered these thoughts: the Eagle Scout rank not only requires hard work, but patience, leadership and a desire to succeed. So that being said, do not be surprised or intimidated when you are expected to prevail when others have failed…from today on, you are an example to other scout, please remember to guide them in their scouting careers just as you have been helped…I have faith in you, you will do great.
- Bill Genberg, a mentor and committee chair at Troop 777, recognized that while being thrilled at achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, “it is a greater joy in seeing and hearing of your faith in Christ, which is evident in your speech and life. In a society where there is a lack of strong moral convictions and obvious Christian character, it is encouraging to see you grow as a godly young man who has a proper worldview and desire to make a difference in your community.
- Jeff Baldwin, a Christian author and lecturer at WorldView Academy, offered these words of encouragement and admonition: “Thank you for setting an example for younger students who may be tempted to settle for the comfortable or the path of least resistance. Great things are not achieved half-heartedly; anything worth accomplishing will come at a high price. Younger students growing up in a world of “reality” TV and the “easy” answers Google provides can quickly lose sight of the sacrifice required to stand in a fallen world. Your efforts remind them otherwise.
Scoutmaster Andrew Vigario (Troop 777, Montville, NJ) delivered a charge to Stephen as a new Eagle Scout — to be vigilant as he continues to walk the trail of service to other people throughout his life.
Troop 113 Committee Chair, Bob Stroup, conducted the award ceremony where Stephen placed a “Eagle Scout Mother’s Pin” and an “Eagle Scout Father’s Pin” on his parents lapels prior to receiving his own Eagle Medal, pinned in place by his mom.
Stephen took the opportunity to thank various mentors that helped him materially complete his scouting trail from Tenderfoot to Eagle, including: Scoutmasters Maynard and Vigario, Committee Chair Bill Genberg (Troop 777) and Mr. Harmon Williams who was Stephen’s mentor from Toastmasters – a youth leadership program built around public speaking proficiency.
Pastor Eric Wohner, of First Baptist Church of Hackensack, offered closing reflections from God’s word and then a benediction.
David T. is a Life scout at our troop who will participate in his Eagle Scout Board of Review this coming Monday evening. Once that’s completed, he can submit his application to the National Council for approval in a process that will take about six weeks. As we congratulate Stephen, we also look forward to David’s turn to be in the spotlight as he will start planning his ECOH shortly.
We’re hopeful that other Star and Life scouts within our troop will finish up their merit badge work and complete their service projects soon so that we can continue to execute these special ceremonies.
Isaiah 40:28-31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.