Freshman achieves prestigious Eagle Scout ranks

Long hopes to mentor his troop-mates as they attempt to reach they achieve Eagle status.

courtesy of Liam Long

Long hopes to mentor his troop-mates as they attempt to reach they achieve Eagle status.

It is a coveted award representative of a boy scout’s honor in his actions towards others and his community. It is an award so dignified that it takes an average scout  17 years to achieve. With only four percent of scouts ever fulfilling the requirements of going up seven ranks, earning 21 merit badges, developing a project with a minimum of 150 man hours, and much more, becoming an Eagle Scout is feat in the eyes of most. While most scouts struggle to earn the award just as their 18th birthday creeps over the horizon, freshman Liam Long won’t have to worry. He just earned the highest scout rank in August.

Since the average age of scouts who earn the rank of Eagle is 18, Long’s feat of achieving the rank at age 14 is remarkable. “I achieved Eagle so early because I saw the people in my troop achieving it a day before their 18th birthday and making it a final part of their scouting career. This inspired me to be the youngest Eagle Scout in my [268th] troop and to then help others in my troop achieve the rank by being an active Eagle,” said Long.

Throughout his scout career, Long has found and pursued diverse interests. Though metalwork and welding may be what he’s working on next, he has dabbled in a vast number of activities through his achievement of earning an astounding 33 merit badges-some of which can take close to a year to complete on their own. “I really loved the Scuba merit badge because I was PADI certified, but my real favorite was the Hiking merit badge because I got that at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I hiked 70 miles with my crew up and down mountains at almost 12,000 feet!” said Long.

However, the pinnacle of his achievements lay within all the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout: the project. This daunting undertaking requires extensive research, must benefit an organization or a community, and the scout must demonstrate strong leadership ability throughout the project. “I designed and built, with the help of my troop, five two-tiered shelves for the local food shelf, PRISM. I was volunteering at PRISM for RKVC and I noticed that they didn’t have any way to display the produce so I came up with that idea,” said Long.

This is no easy task, as a scout must do extensive planning and meet with an Eagle advisor on a regular basis to make sure the process is going smoothly, which it rarely does. Setbacks are a part of the experience and serve as essential, though infuriating, teaching points-Long’s being paint stains on his dad’s newly sealed asphalt. “The most challenging part of the whole process was keeping track of all the requirements and making sure everything was moving forward. It is easy to get stuck,” said Long.

With many scouts earning their Eagle Scout so late in their scouting career, few are able to remain active in their troops once they reach age 18. This means that experienced scouts won’t be able to help the younger ones earn merit badges and advance ranks in the troop, but Long will be able to remain active in Troop 268 for a long time. “I want the younger scouts to see an Eagle who doesn’t just age out but one who can encourage them and be a part of the troop,” said Long.