21st century Eagle Scouts: more than fire starters


Ethan Israels

The determined scout gathered up his papers and confidently walked into the meeting with his plans to aid in a local project to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The board of directors for the nursing home fired question after question regarding the scouts plans to conduct his project. The scout calmly referred back to his plans and answered every question sent his way. After half an hour or so the meeting was adjourned. With that, his project was approved and he was on his way to becoming an Eagle.

  Achieving the highest rank in all of Boy Scouting entails more than just camping, fire starting, and knot tying. While these are some of the over 325 requirements that an Eagle Scout must fulfill, earning the rank of Eagle Scout means much more.

  Since 1912, boys around the world have worked to attain the top rank in scouting before they turn 18  where their membership as a scout is over. The award of Eagle is rare as just over two percent of boys who enter scouting earn the rank.

  West Ottawa’s senior class  beat those odds. This senior class alone will graduate six Eagle Scouts, and they are responsible for much more than starting  fires. An integral part of earning the rank of Eagle is planning and leading an Eagle Scout Service Project or Eagle Project. Since the completion of a project was added as a requirement in 1965, every Eagle has led one, including the Eagle Scouts at WO.

  Sr. Karl Heindlmeyer from Troop 157 attained the rank of Eagle in May 2015. Heindlmeyer’s Eagle Project consisted of clearing barbed wire, removing scrap metal, and helping beautify Upper Macatawa Natural Area, which is managed by Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. Like almost all Eagle Projects, his required an immense amount of planning. “You have to factor in planning for a lot of different moving parts, and you also have to… take into consideration like a million different schedules and try and make them all kind of coincide,” Heindlmeyer said. Heindlmeyer also meet with park officials, contacted community scrap businesses, and visited the site on numerous occasions. All totaled, his project took him and his volunteers a total of approximately 139.5 man hours.

  Heindlmeyer will take with him the leadership skills gained from his project as well as outdoor skills that he learned as a scout. He also recognizes that Scouting was his firm foundation growing up, “Scouting was the constant drive toward becoming a man. Not being shy just because you are not as old as someone.”

  Along with Heindlmeyer, Troop 157 has Eagle Scouts Robby Abbaduska, Ben Hahn, and Devon Davis graduating this year.

  Sr. Garrison Osborne from Troop 43 earned his Eagle in April 2016. Osborne’s Eagle Project “was part of a bigger project… for the Resthaven Music and Memory project, which was designed to improve the lives of the residents with Alzheimer’s disease. My project was to interview the residents there to figure out what kind of music they like. Then, [my job was] to aid the staff with downloading music to iPods. The second part was designing and building charging units for charging and storing iPods, headphones, and information folders,” Osborne said. In order to accomplish this, Osborne coordinated over 20 volunteers on separate days to help interview the residents as well as build the charging docks for these iPods. Osborne also designed his own charging bays for special use in the Music and Memory project. Osborne’s project consisted of over 40 hours of work.

  “Scouting has definitely improved my confidence, my social skills, and my outlook on how the world is supposed to be. It makes you realize that there is kind of a balance of people doing stuff for you, and you doing stuff for other people. You shouldn’t do all the service just for the benefit of yourself, but for the benefit of other people.”

  Along with Osborne, I am also an Eagle Scout from Troop 43 graduating this year.

  These six Eagles have reached the top of the scouting mountain. The path to attaining the rank of Eagle looked a little bit different for everyone, just as scouting has done something unique for all of the Eagles. Now, these West Ottawa Eagles join the ranks of Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Astronaut James Lovell, Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, President Gerald R. Ford, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Olympic track star Willie Banks. Who all, of course, could start a fire.

Eagle Scout Karl Heindlmeyer
Eagle Scout Karl Heindlmeyer
Eagle Scout Ethan Israels
Eagle Scout Ethan Israels