Charles E. Shoemaker⁄The Gazette
Eagle Scout Maximilian Lockwood (left) of Silver Spring,
Life Scout Chris Ingeholm (center) of Colesville
and Scoutmaster John Wnek of Mount Airy
talk Saturday afternoon at People’s Community Church in Silver Spring.
Sean Riley just reached the rank of Star in Boy Scout Troop 1441, but he is already looking ahead to becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting.
‘‘It’s kind of neat,” said Riley, a 15-year-old sophomore at The Barrie School. ‘‘It opens lots of doors for jobs and stuff. It shows your commitment with things.”
When it comes to making Eagle Scout, Riley is in the right place: Troop 1441, based at Colesville Presbyterian Church, has had at least four members reach Eagle Scout each of the last six years, said longtime Scoutmaster John Wnek.
The troop’s Eagle Scout production has remained constant despite averaging 40 members every year since 2000, Wnek said.
By comparison, only three scouts out of 100 nationally reach Eagle, according to the Boy Scouts’ National Capital Area Council, which includes Troop 1441. In the Boy Scouts’ nearly 100-year history, only 2 percent of the more than 110 million boys who have become Boy Scouts have reached Eagle rank.
In 2006, five members of Troop 1441 became Eagle Scouts: Richard W. Klingner, Andrew Brimmer, Maximilian R. Lockwood, David Murphy and Tim Gallahan. Wnek said he expects about five more this year.
Current and future Eagle Scouts pointed to Wnek, who has led the troop for 26 years, as the reason for so many accomplished scouts.
‘‘Mr. Wnek is a great scout leader and very dedicated,” said Riley. ‘‘He’s really organized and tries to get everyone moving.”
Wnek, in turn, singled out the structure of the troop. ‘‘It’s the program we run,” he said. ‘‘We set a tone and style to make them want to achieve. They can try themselves and fail if they have to.”
To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must meet requirements in leadership, service and outdoor skills. As a scout advances up the ranks — from Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class to Star to Life to Eagle — he must earn at least 21 merit badges, 12 of which are required. The required badges cover areas such as first aid, personal fitness and citizenship in the community, nation and world. Badges can be earned from a scout’s first day in a troop.
The higher the rank a scout has, the more responsibility he must take in service projects and the more leadership roles he must assume within the troop. Everything culminates in the Eagle Scout project, for which a scout is entirely in charge of work to benefit a nonprofit or religious organization.
Once the organization the scout has helped signs off on the project, which must take at least 100 hours to complete, the scout writes up a report on his work. A project review is then done by a district scouting board (Troop 1441 is part of the Paint Branch District). If approved, the scout officially becomes an Eagle Scout. A scout has until the day before his 18th birthday to reach the rank of Eagle.
Over the years, the Eagle Scout process has remained mostly the same, with some badges changing to reflect the times. (A ‘‘family life” badge, for example, is a recent, required addition, Wnek said.)
Daniel Hanlon, 17, is planning his Eagle Scout project, which will be painting lines in the parking lot at Colesville Presbyterian Church. Hanlon, a junior at James Hubert Blake High School, is trying to secure supplies, donations and final approval from the church. ‘‘It’s not [hectic] at the moment,” said Hanlon, adding he hopes to complete his project early this summer.
Wnek, a former Boy Scout who did not reach the rank of Eagle Scout himself, stresses ‘‘wings before wheels” to his charges, meaning he wants them to become Eagle Scouts before they get their driver’s license. ‘‘Cars and girls seem to distract guys for some reason,” he said with a laugh.
But the accelerated timeframe also gives scouts two years to take leadership roles, he added. Wnek also knows his scouts are pulled in many different directions with school and extracurricular activities, so he teaches them time management skills.
Christopher Tabisz has been using those skills during his first year at the University of Maryland, College Park, and credits Wnek. ‘‘He worked with us and knew what needed to be done, so we learned the most in the least amount of time,” Tabisz said.
Tabisz, 19, has two uncles and two cousins who are Eagle Scouts, but he was unsure he wanted to join the family tradition until halfway through his scouting career. ‘‘I thought maybe I could make it, so I pushed myself,” he said.
Tabisz achieved Eagle Scout on June 11, 2004. His project was refurbishing the playground at Forcey Memorial Church in Silver Spring.
‘‘I couldn’t believe it,” he said of becoming an Eagle Scout. ‘‘It took a couple of months to sink in.”
But the lessons learned on the way last much longer. More than six years after becoming an Eagle Scout, Matt Hanlon, Daniel Hanlon’s older brother, still tries to live by scout law, the 12 traits all scouts should exhibit, including trustworthiness, loyalty and courteousness.
‘‘I try to treat everyone equally and fairly and have good core values,” said Matt Hanlon, 23.
Even when the Eagle Scouts finish up their time in the troop, Wnek still sees some during their college breaks. Some even stop by the troop’s weekly meeting at Cannon Road Elementary School.
‘‘I’m pleased at their success. I’m pleased at their progress,” Wnek said. ‘‘I feel like I’m doing something.”
Famous Eagle Scouts
Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr., former secretary of the treasury and former U.S. Senator
Bill Bradley, former U.S. senator, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame
Dr. William C. DeVries, surgeon and educator, transplanted first artificial heart
Former President Gerald R. Ford
Robert M. Gates, current secretary of defense
H. Ross Perot, founder, Electronic Data Systems Corporation and former presidential candidate
Donald H. Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense
Source: Boy Scouts of America
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007
Troop 1441: Where many Eagles soar
At least four members have earned scouting’s highest rank in each of the past six years
by Danny Jacobs | Staff Writer