The troop is sponsored by First United Methodist Church of Marietta, where an Eagle Scout Court of Honor was convened on Sunday afternoon. Daniel Dupree, 18; Zachary Fisher, 19; Joshua Lee, 15; Preston Olds, 17; and Alex Runge, 16, were presented with Eagle Scout medals in front of their families and friends at the church.
All of them completed at least 21 merit badges and planned, developed and gave leadership to others in a service project that benefited their community. Only 5 percent of Scouts attain Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America.
Since 1996, Dupree and Fisher, Marietta High School graduates, have endured the challenging and lengthy process of becoming Eagle Scouts. They began as Cub Scouts together and were the last of their original group of six friends to make it to Eagle.
“It’s been an extremely long path,” Dupree said. “The project is possibly the most terrifyingly large thing that I’ve ever created. But, it is very relieving.”
Three of the Scouts planned and completed their required Eagle projects on the church’s grounds. Dupree is responsible for the 40-foot wide prayer labyrinth located behind the church. Identifying all of the trees in the new church park, Park on Polk Street, marking 35 of them for a walking trail, and constructing a bulletin board, was Lee’s project. Olds built an outdoor classroom that can be easily accessed in the park.
Fisher and Runge built and installed several benches and picnic tables, respectively, at Hickory Hills Elementary School in Marietta.
“It helps you develop your leadership skills,” Megan Ryan, Atlanta Area Council Boys Scouts spokeswoman, said of the Eagle project that has been completed by 2
million Eagles Scouts in 100 years.
“Some Scouts will go out to a park, for example, and lead several of their Scouts on a particular project. So if it’s cleaning up a particular area or building park benches, it’s that Eagle Scout’s job to basically go and recruit his friends, fellow Scouts and members of his patrol to achieve a certain service project.”
When the Rev. Dr. Sam Matthews, senior minister at Marietta FUMC, heard that the Scouts finished their projects on time and under budget, he said he didn’t know “whether to hire them at the church or elect them to Congress.”
Only 5 percent of those who become Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank, according to the National Eagle Scout Association. A Scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service and outdoor skills to become an Eagle. Of the 120 merit badges, he must earn 21 to qualify for Eagle Scout.
“It is something that is very, very unique,” Ryan said.
In 2009, the Atlanta Area Council awarded 527 Eagle Scout medals, a new record for the Council, which oversees 13 metro-Atlanta counties. Of those, 139 were awarded in Cobb. Since January, 63 Scouts in Cobb have become Eagle Scouts.
Tim Sanders, a Marietta FUMC men’s group member, said the church has a long and proud history of Eagle Scouts. There have been 110 Scouts from the troop to attain Eagle dating back to 1911. On Sunday, the five young men were presented with their Eagle Scout medals and other gifts. In return, they presented their mothers and fathers with Eagle pins during the ceremony. Afterwards, a reception with cake was held in their honor.
“It feels good that all the hard work I’ve had over the years has finally paid off,” said Runge, a Wheeler High School student. “I know definitely it’ll help later in life.”
Alan Dupree, Troop 277 scoutmaster, told the newly minted Eagle Scouts that people will expect more from them from now on.
“The torch you carry is not only yours, but ours also,” he said.