Trio's works earn Scouting's highest honor

March 11, 1999

Eagle ScoutsBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

The gold plastic card Mike Thoerig plucked from his wallet can't be used to charge anything.

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Like the patch on his tan uniform, the card is a token, a symbol of a lifetime of hard work.

Thoerig and two of his friends were awarded the rank of Eagle Scout on Feb. 19 at a Court of Honor ceremony in a Hagerstown church.

Chris Moats, of Fairplay; Seth VanCour, of Sharpsburg, and Thoerig, of Clear Spring, all 18, have spent more than half their lives working to earn the highest Boy Scout honor.


They have scaled mountains, rappelled off towers, explored caves in rock quarries and sparked flame from flint. They have earned reputations as solid citizens, leaders and family members.

And they've kept their senses of humor.

Take their description of their secret initiation into the Order of the Arrow, a prestigious Scout organization that performs service projects.

"It's slavery," Moats said.

The troop leader "works you to the bone" for a full day to "make you a man," VanCour said.

"You get like one orange slice for lunch," Moats said.

"And four corn flakes for breakfast," Thoerig added.

Why do they endure such trials?

"Our parents live vicariously through us," said Moats, son of Victor and Loretta Moats.

Moats and VanCour were both 8 years old when they became Cub Scouts. They both attend Williamsport High School and are members of Hagerstown Troop 265.

VanCour's parents, Fran and Cathy VanCour, were Cub Scout den leaders.

VanCour, who recently joined the U.S. Army on the delayed entry program, said he follows in the footsteps of his Eagle Scout father and three older brothers.

Thoerig, a Clear Spring High School senior and a member of Hagerstown Troop 65, said his parents, Michael and Linda Thoerig, enrolled him as a Tiger Scout when he was 7.

Reaching Eagle Scout is a building process, said Bob Holsinger, executive of the Tuscarora District of the Boy Scouts of America.

Eagle Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges, 11 of which are required and 10 optional, Holsinger said. Some of the mandatory badges are First Aid, Personal Fitness, Family Life, Citizenship in the Community and Environmental Science.

Moats said some badges take up to three months to earn. He, Thoerig and VanCour agreed that the Environmental Science badge was the hardest.

The Scouts had to spend hours at a time in the woods, noting such things as wildlife species and soil types, Moats said. Then they had to record their findings in 500-word essays, he said.

Not all badges were hard work, the Scouts said.

VanCour flew a Cessna airplane to obtain his Aviation badge. Thoerig honed his skills making lean-tos and fire from sticks to earn his Wilderness Survival badge. And Moats said he used different techniques to save "drowning victims" for his Life Saving badge.

Eagle Scout hopefuls also must demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout oath and law in their daily lives, Holsinger said.

Moats, Thoerig and VanCour used some of the adjectives in the Boy Scout Oath to describe themselves.

VanCour called himself "a leader, friendly and honest."

Moats said he is "trustworthy, loyal and helpful."

Thoerig described himself as "imaginative, resourceful and charismatic."

Eagle Scout candidates must attend troop meetings for six months as Life Scouts, and serve six months in leadership positions within their troops, Holsinger said.

While Life Scouts, they must plan, develop and find funding for a service project that is helpful to a religious organization, school or community, he said.

"The project seems to be the most monumental step they have to perform," Holsinger said.

Thoerig repainted buildings at Children's Village in Hagerstown. Moats built safety guards for playground equipment at Washington Monument State Park. VanCour rebuilt steps leading to a pavilion at that park.

Eagle Scout candidates must participate in a Scoutmaster conference, at which their progress is reviewed, and recommendations are made for a Board of Review, Holsinger said.

The final step is an appearance before the board, a panel of adults who examine the Scout's history, and ask him questions, Holsinger said.

Only one-half of 1 percent of all Boy Scouts achieve Eagle status. Holsinger said the Mason-Dixon Council awarded Eagle badges to 22 Scouts in 1997 and in 1998.

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