By Valerie Werkmeister
Parents often have dreams for their kids. Doctors or lawyers or maybe a successful businessman are a few career paths they may hope to see their son set foot on. But have you ever heard someone say, ‘I want my son to be an Eagle Scout.’?
It’s a shame too because so many of the qualities people often complain are missing in today’s society are instilled in Eagle Scouts. Boy Scouts take an oath to be kind, loyal, reverent, helpful, cheerful, clean, brave, trustworthy, friendly, courteous, obedient and thrifty. Perhaps if there were more Eagle Scouts, the world would be a better place.
A recent study conducted by Sung Joon Jang, Byron R. Johnson and Young-II Kim of Baylor University found that, ‘Duty to God, service to others, service to the community, and leadership traits are especially strong in Eagle Scouts.’
They also found that Eagle Scouts are more likely to be committed to setting and achieving personal, professional, spiritual, and financial goals. In addition, Eagle Scouts exhibit higher levels of planning and preparedness than do other scouts and non-scouts. Finally, Eagle Scouts are more likely than other scouts or non-scouts to show they have built character traits related to work ethics, morality, tolerance and respect for diversity.
It is often said that if two qualified applicants apply for the same job, but one is an Eagle Scout, he will be the one chosen for the position. It is no coincidence that the traits and skills he learned to attain the Eagle Scout rank are what gave him a better advantage over a non-scout.
Troopmaster Mitch Wagner of Poseyville Boy Scout Troop 387 is doing his part to help boys achieve this great honor. Over the years, Wagner has had 18 boys who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Dalton Epley, 16, and son of John and Kim Epley of Poseyville, will be the nineteenth scout to achieve this rank. Dalton must appear before the Buffalo Trace Council in Evansville to present his final paperwork before his Eagle Scout rank is official.
The Epleys are a true scouting family. John serves as an assistant troop master and has served as a den leader in Cub Scouts since Dalton started as a Tiger Cub.
“When I went to the Cub Scout round-up at school to sign up Dalton, I told Kim I wasn’t going to be a leader. I swore I wasn’t going to be a leader. Well, when I came home and Kim asked how it went, I told her, ‘I’m a leader,’” he laughed.
Kim has also served as a den leader in Cub Scouts since Dalton was in fourth grade. She also serves on both committees for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Dalton recently completed his extensive project that took 412 man hours to complete. To begin the process, Dalton met with Wager to discuss his idea that including constructing two new sidewalks at North Elementary School in Poseyville. He prepared drawings, took measurements and got quotes for the cost of the project. It was Dalton’s responsibility to complete paperwork and prepare a presentation to deliver to his local scout committee for approval.
Once the committee gave their blessing for Dalton to move forward with this project, he presented his idea again to the Buffalo Trace Council in Evansville. Following their approval, he discussed the project with MSD of North Posey Superintendent Dr. Todd Camp. The school corporation agreed to pay for the materials of the project while Dalton was responsible for coordinating and scheduling labor hours from the scouts within the troop.
New sidewalks were constructed on the east side of the school building and in the front on both sides of the front steps. A small patio area was also constructed near the side entry doors. The project began shortly after the school year ended on May 28. After a few days of rainy weather, the project was completed on June 14. The project required 15 yards of concrete.
Throughout the project, Dalton exhibited leadership skills as he guided and instructed his crew of both adult and youth workers. Wagner along with his father, John, Brian Reynolds, Matt Tepool, Rick Fark and Ellis Fenwick were among the adult leaders Dalton consulted and was advised by throughout the project. Dalton often had as many as 10 scouts assisting on a daily basis until the project was completed.
When asked what scouting has taught him, Dalton responded that he has learned responsibility and developed leadership skills. He served as a senior patrol leader for a year and was the youth in charge of the troop.
He enjoys the benefits of scouting and has been able to meet many new friends throughout the years. He has valued the new experiences he has been able to take part in through various camp-outs, excursions and summer camp. He has been able to do high adventure sailing at Roy C. Manchester Camp in Kentucky for the past two years, something he would not normally get to do in his everyday life.
This summer, he will travel with the troop to a new summer camp near Louisville, Ky., where he will learn blacksmithing skills, take part in cast iron cooking and ride an ATV throughout the week.
Both Kim and John are proud of Dalton’s achievements and understandably so. Only four percent of scouts have achieved the high rank since it was first awarded in 1912.
Not all boys stay in scouts long enough to achieve the rank. Dalton and his parents have witnessed that firsthand. Of the boys he started in Tiger Cubs with, Dalton is the only one who remains. Four boys crossed over at the same time as Dalton, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, and many of them quit shortly after their first year.
John is also proud that his son completed what he did not. John was also a Boy Scout, but he stopped at ‘Life Rank,’ the final rank before Eagle Scout.
“I’m a Life Scout for Life and there’s nothing I can do about that now. When Dalton became a Boy Scout, I knew I wanted him to succeed and achieve his Eagle,” he said.
John was also surprised and very proud his son chose such a large project.
“The size of this project… the magnitude of it. I told him he didn’t have to do all of it, but he was sure he wanted to complete the entire thing. He shocked me that he wanted to do it. The whole thing makes me proud,” John said.
Kim has also observed positive changes in her son through his responsibility positions in scouts.
“He’s a part of something good and the opportunities and friendships he’s made are good for him. He took command of this project and helped the younger scouts. That’s what Boy Scouts is all about. He’s given back what scouts have given to him,” she said.
By Valerie Werkmeister