By Paul Lonardo
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States. Founded in 1910, today there are more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers.
The mission of the Boy Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills.
Of all the Boy Scout ranks, Eagle Scouts hold the highest regard. Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy path, and there are many requirements to be met before the honor is bestowed upon a candidate. Becoming an Eagle Scout means that a young man has proven himself to be an individual who embodies the characteristics that makes Scouting so special, and has been with the Boy Scouts of America for a significant period of time, progressing through the various ranks and satisfying all the rank requirements, represented by the earning of various merit badges. Only five percent of Boy Scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Troop 1 Georgiaville has recently promoted not one, but two boys to the rank of Eagle Scout. John G. Fontaine, Jr. and Bryce A. Moroni are both seniors at Smithfield High School, and have been participating in scouting since they were in first grade together. One of the things that makes this story so special is that they have been friends as well as scouts for so long. Their troop is small, led by Scoutmaster Peter Wood, who is an Eagle Scout himself, so although this is an individual achievement it is shared by everyone.
The Eagle Scout rank must be achieved before the age of eighteen, and both these boys have a younger brother in the troop, both of whom are working toward becoming Eagle Scouts themselves. It is certainly a family affair, as John’s father, himself an Eagle Scout, is the Boy Scout Committee Chairman, while Bryce’s mother is a committee member, both volunteering a great deal of time to the troop as a whole.
Bryce always enjoyed being outside camping. When he was young it was just about being fun, but as he got older he appreciated the skills that he learned and developed in scouting. He realized that most kids his age didn’t know how to do the things he did, and it gave him a great sense of pride. “Even something like changing a tire,” Bryce says, “in Boy Scouts an Automotive Maintenance Merit Badge taught us everything we needed to know about a car and basic repair work.”
For John, becoming an Eagle was very important.
“I’ve always had the intention of becoming an Eagle Scout since my father was an Eagle Scout before me,” John says. “And I just wanted to be like him a lot of ways because he’s a fantastic person.”
In the last few of years, John admits that to achieve his goal he had to work on his ranks with a bit more focus, but it was all worth it. And while he enjoys the satisfaction of this accomplishment, and sense of relief that it is behind him now, he does not look at his reaching the Eagle Scout ranking as marking the end of the scouting program for him.
“I plan to continue to help out with my scout troop in the future,” John says. “No doubt about it.”
Bryce feels the same way. With a younger brother in the same grade with John’s brother, he wants to stay involved. “I want to help preserve the heritage and culture that has been passed down for over a hundred years,” Bryce says. “I believe both of us are very thankful for what we learned in the Scouts, and we definitely want to do our part to pay it forward and make sure that younger boys get that experience, as well.”
Bryce and John completed their board of review earlier this year, and have already officially earned the Eagle rank, but there will be an actual ceremony, when they will be having their Court of Honor and given their Eagle Scout badge, which takes place on Friday, March 29 at the St. Michael’s Church Parish Hall at 7pm.
For Bryce Moroni and John Fontaine, two new Eagle Scouts from Smithfield, they are just beginning their adult life, and we wish them luck. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world today, but it is a fact that the benefits bestowed upon young people who earn the rank of Eagle Scout is considerable. College admissions officers recognize this award and consider it in their decisions. Being an Eagle Scout won’t make up for poor grades, but it will give a boy an advantage. Many employment recruiters look for Eagle Scout on a resume, as employers seek the very traits that an Eagle possesses. And every branch of the U.S. Military allows Eagle Scouts to enter at a higher rank and pay grade than people who aren’t Eagle Scouts.
Boy Scouts, however, don’t earn their Eagle Scout rank for accolades and benefits. They do it because they are living the Scout Law every day.
To learn more about scouting or how to join the Boy Scouts visit: www.scouting.org