On Aug. 1, 1912, Arthur Eldred became the first Boy Scout to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.

Throughout the past century, more than 115 million boys have participated in Boy Scouts, and more than 2.1 million have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Golden Spread Council, Boy Scouts of America, serves the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. The council has recorded more than 4,000 Eagle Scouts from this region, with an average of more than 50 boys earning the rank each year for the past several years.

During 2012, more than 5,500 boys and young women will participate in scouting programs throughout Golden Spread Council. There are many requirements a Boy Scout must complete in order to achieve the Eagle Scout rank. He must first work his way through scouting’s other five ranks (each of which requires numerous badges, community service, leadership, and activity), be actively involved in scouting and earn 21 or more merit badges (including certain specified merit badges, like Citizenship in Community, First Aid, and Personal Management). He must also organize and execute an Eagle Scout leadership service project, which serves as an opportunity to implement the leadership skills he has learned for the benefit of an area organization other than scouting.

The national average of time spent on each Eagle project is an impressive 185 hours. Each Eagle project requires hours of preparation, develops leadership and character, builds camaraderie among those involved and benefits the community. A few of the agencies in our area that have benefited from an Eagle Scout project include The Salvation Army, High Plains Food Bank, United Way of Amarillo & Canyon and Habitat for Humanity.

Lastly, before his 18th birthday, the Eagle candidate must complete a final Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review, both of which are designed to test traditional scouting skills, ensure good character and determine what the scout learned on his journey.

“Becoming an Eagle Scout was one of the guiding influences of my life,” said Bill Gething of Pampa, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1947. He has continued to be active with the Golden Spread Council and has 73 years of consecutive scouting service.

Recent University of Texas graduate Andrew Altman said, “Being an Eagle Scout is not only an honor but a responsibility to continue exhibiting the values and ideals that scouting has instilled in me. By the virtue of being an Eagle Scout, I can honestly say that this achievement has been my foot in the door to many opportunities that I might not have otherwise had the chance for. This award is as widely recognizable as any honor society, military achievement or scholastic accomplishment, and it is something I will remain proud of for the rest of my life.”
Countless anecdotes suggest the experience of becoming an Eagle Scout changes an individual for life. Recently completed formal research backs up this belief.
Two years ago, Baylor University was awarded a $992,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to research the impact of scouting and the Eagle Scout rank. The study, “Merit Beyond the Badge,” found Eagle Scouts regularly held leadership positions in their jobs and community, demonstrated exceptional organizational skills, fostered positive relationships with others and contributed time and money to those in need.

This research gives credence to a frequently used phrase in scouting — “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”

Some of the most well-known Eagle Scouts in our nation’s history include: President Gerald Ford, film director Steven Spielberg, Pulitzer Prize winner Harrison Salisbury, EDS Corp. chairman H. Ross Perot, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and astronaut Neil Armstrong. In our community, we are blessed to have Eagle Scouts like Pat Hickman, chairman of the board of Happy State Bank; Mark White, managing partner of Sprouse Shrader Smith; and Ron Boyd, owner of Duncan & Boyd Jewelers.

Mayor Paul Harpole, a longtime support of scouting and past President of the Golden Spread Council, said “Our community has benefited from scouting for many years. It’s not hard to look to various leaders in business, church, community and nonprofit ventures to find leaders with a background in scouting, many of whom are Eagle Scouts. We’re fortunate to live in an area where boys are encouraged to develop leadership skills, further their personal faith and become participating citizens through scouting. I’m proud to be involved in the Boy Scouts of America.”

Looking to the future, the region looks forward to seeing the great things the future generations of Eagle Scouts will contribute to our community, nation and world.