Local Scout John Clark soars to Eagle
Michael Hardy / (email@example.com)
A member of Troop 814, Clark has worked hard to achieve this special honor that places him among an elite group. While 2,151,024 Scouts have attained the rank of Eagle since 1912, only about five percent of boys who join Scouts actually reach Eagle, and, over the years, only one other member of 814 has made this amazing accomplishment. The Eagle Award, which a Scout can seek after completing the ranks of Tenderfoot, First and Second Class, Star and Life Scout, requires the completion of 11 regular merit badges and 12 Eagle Merit Badges. Each badge represents a significant time commitment and personal investment from the Scout and his troop and family. Clark’s sash sports a whopping 43 badges, each a testimony to the hard work and dedication he pours into scouting. His favorite badge is the Veterinary Medicine Badge, which interested him profoundly and may represent his future career.
The pinnacle of the many requirements for Eagle Scout is the completion of an important Service Project. Clark said that his project was the most difficult part of his path to Eagle, as he faced the challenges of “getting everyone to work together. I had to facilitate cooperation.”
That challenge of leadership is part of the Eagle project because this is not a project that the potential Eagle Scout carries out on his own. Rather, it represents a significant investment from his troop and leaders who are part of the process. Clark’s project was one that looked both backward to the past and ahead to the future. There had been a small nature trail in Crossnore, winding down into the ravine behind the post office and First Baptist Crossnore, but the trail was unmaintained, and Clark “saw that steep bank, and I knew it was a hazard.” Now, thanks to hours of work from Clark, with the help of Troop 814, the trail has been stabilized and made safe for those who wish to explore a lovely little corner of Crossnore. It also has new signs at either end, and landscaping, including fencing, that makes it both safe and attractive. Though his fellow Scouts and leaders helped with manual labor and encouragement, Clark also had to work with community leaders and other stakeholders to make his project a reality.
“I had the idea, but I had to talk to land owners, with Eagle Coaches, with the Scoutmaster,” Clark said. He also received help and encouragement from the Crossnore Community Enhancement Association, which was delighted with Clark’s interest in making the community even more attractive and safe.
That encouragement was often vital, as the Eagle project paperwork alone can prove daunting. “The booklet is about 50 pages,” Clark laughed. “I had to submit my plan to make a plan, my plan for plans, the plan itself, lots of planning.”
Despite the challenges, Clark’s project, which he officially undertook this spring, is now a reality, and he hopes that it will continue to expand to be a source of pleasure and nature education for visitors and residents in the future, creating a lasting legacy beyond his accomplishment.
Continuing the Scouting legacy is very important to Clark, whose four younger brothers and many fellow Scouts look to him as an example as well as an inspiration. As an Eagle Scout, “I’ll always be expected to be the Senior Scout, to know and do the most, to have the most knowledge and experience, as well as the most expectations from others.”
His years of Scouting have given Clark many life-changing experiences, including his first year at Bud Schiele summer camp, an “unforgettable” trip to Washington D.C. and his first Klondike Derby on Grandfather Mountain. Just this past weekend, Clark and his fellow members of Troop 814 participated in the Derby again; for many of them, it was their first experience at the exciting competition. For Clark, it was his fifth, and last, Klondike Derby, at least as a participating Scout. Though he will no longer take part in some of the experiences of being a Scout, he looks forward to his new leadership role and to encouraging his fellow troop members, many of whom are planning for their own Eagle advancement in the coming years. To those he is mentoring, Clark’s advice is to “stick with it,” even when the paperwork is tedious or the project gets frustrating. “Keep your eyes on the prize,” Clark offered to other aspiring Eagles, who, like the community, will doubtlessly benefit from his determination and vision in creating a lasting project for the community.