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Once Cubs together, now they're Eagle Scouts

July 11, 1999

Eagle ScoutsBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




SMITHSBURG - Five Cubs forged friendships in the den, scouted different paths, and soared together again as Eagles.

In 1987, first-graders Justin Martin, Jake Williams, Chris Peiffer, Ken Buckler and Josh Lyons started a five-year stint as Cub Scouts in Old Forge Elementary Den 4, Pack 108.

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Today, the 1999 high school graduates share Scouting's highest honor.

"Basically, you get out what you put in," Williams said. "We put in a lot and we got Eagle Scouts."

Smithsburg residents Peiffer, 17, and Martin, Williams and Buckler, all 18, and Hagerstown resident Lyons, 18, separated in 1992 to attend different Boy Scout troops, they said.

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ScoutsChuckling at memories of young Williams bungling the words to the national anthem, and accident-prone Buckler's antics at Scout camp, the group said they didn't think then that they would one day reunite as Eagle Scouts.

"It's pretty weird," Martin said. "Jake and I wanted to be the first," he added.

They were.

Martin and Williams were awarded their Eagle badges in October 1995; Peiffer and Buckler obtained their badges in June 1997 and January 1999, respectively; and Lyons was awarded his Eagle badge in February of this year.

The Scouts said hard work paves the road to Eagle, but the rewards are many.

"It's the honor of it," Williams said. His friends nodded in agreement.

Martin said he aimed for Eagle status when he joined the Boy Scouts, but was then unaware of the scope of that goal.

Peiffer said he had second thoughts at one point, but that his parents pushed him to continue.

"It was time-consuming and tedious," he said. "I didn't know if I could do it at first, but I didn't want to quit."

"I wanted the challenge of doing it," Buckler said.

"I just kept getting the stuff and I made it up there," Lyons added.

Reaching Eagle Scout is a building process, according to 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 and Family Life.

Martin said earning such "boring merit badges- the ones you have to do but don't want to," presented one of the greatest challenges for him.

Not all the badges were drudgery, the Scouts said.

Williams enjoyed flying a small plane to obtain his Aviation patch. Peiffer said he liked building his own shelter to earn his Wilderness Survival badge.

Buckler capitalized on his natural awe of space to earn his Astronomy badge; and Martin enjoyed the 185-mile biking trek along the C&O Canal towpath to obtain his Cycling badge.

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

The five Eagle Scouts described themselves with some of the terms which epitomize Scouting- traits such as "dedicated, confident, perseverant, courageous and well-rounded."

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

"That's when the glory started," Williams said.

He and the other Scouts said they enjoyed serving as troop leaders. Buckler said he hopes to continue mentoring to younger Scouts.

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

The Scouts said the project proved the most challenging aspect of earning Eagle status.

The group contributed a total of nearly 600 hours for community improvements.

Williams put forth some 65 hours to add a drop ceiling and hang drywall as part of his renovations to a room in the Smithsburg Town Hall.

Martin spent about 120 hours constructing an 8-foot-tall free-standing, colonial-style bulletin board at Fort Frederick.

Lyons spent 135 hours tearing down and rebuilding a 200-foot segment of fence at Antietam National Battlefield.

Peiffer contributed about 150 hours to the renovation of the large community room at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Smithsburg.

Buckler's efforts were also directed at that church. He spent about 120 hours remodeling the kitchen.

In addition to the project, 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.

Less than 1 percent of all Boy Scouts achieve Eagle status. The Mason-Dixon Council awarded Eagle badges to 21 Washington County Scouts in 1997, and 22 in 1998, registrar Mandy Jerin said.

"It's hard work but it's worth it," Lyons said.

As their paths prepare to diverge again, the Scouts said the Eagle badge will prove a helpful companion on their journeys through adulthood.

Potential employers recognize the "rarity of the honor" and Eagle Scouts' dependability and leadership skills, Buckler and Peiffer said.

They will rely on these traits as they work their way through college, they said.

Buckler plans to major in computer science at St. Mary's College, and Peiffer will start his math studies at Hagerstown Community College in the fall.

Williams said the communication and decision-making skills he learned while earning his Eagle badge will help him tackle a psychology degree at Gettysburg College.

Martin said his Eagle Scout status helped him gain several engineer internships, including one with the City of Hagerstown. He will attend West Virginia University in the fall, and may pursue an engineering degree, he said.

Lyons left Hagerstown to join the U.S. Navy on June 30. He said his Eagle Scout status raised him a rank.

"All the skills you learn in scouting are put to good use in the military," he said.

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