On becoming an Eagle Scout

Gavin Horoszewski '18  became an Eagle Scout this summer. He talks about working towards a goal for 10 years and the responsibility and personal growth he found along the way.

I have been a Boy Scout for almost 10 years. For someone who’s almost 18, that’s a really long time. It’s most of my life, as a matter of fact. Although I was just a Cub Scout, which is Scouting’s introductory level for boys in grades K-5 for the first 3 1/2 years, I’ve spent these past six years working toward the rank of Eagle Scout. Becoming an Eagle Scout ─ the highest achievement in Scouting ─ is something that must be done before you turn eighteen. Once you become an adult, you lose the opportunity to earn the rank. As for me, I did it with three-and-a-half months to spare, so I wasn’t rushing to turn in paperwork at the last minute.

    To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, I had to earn 21 merit badges, each of which take 5-20 hours and consultation with an adult counselor, complete all 6 other ranks, hold a position of leadership for half of a year, and plan and carry out a project that benefits the community. The bottom line is that becoming an Eagle Scout is something that not too many people have done. Since the rank was created in 1911, only 2 million out of all 100 million boys to have ever been Boy Scouts were able to earn this rank.

    If people know anything about what an Eagle Scout is, it is the idea of the Eagle Scout Service Project. I’d imagine that you’ve probably seen a number of them around. They’re most often found in or near parks, schools, and churches. I can tell you from experience that completing the project is not a quick and easy process. My project was a deer exclusion fence which I had installed in the Ronald R. Rogers Arboretum in West Windsor, NJ. Why would the public benefit from a deer exclusion fence in a stand of preserved trees? In 2012, during Hurricane Sandy, a half-acre of large trees in the Arboretum were blown down. Over the course of the next few years, the woods’ deer population were eating everything larger than a small shrub, preventing significant regrowth in that half-acre. This gave me the idea of keeping the deer out of the clearing to allow for new growth. This strategy has been used successfully in a few other locations in the U.S. Already, in the 9 months since I installed the fence, there is a noticeable difference between the height of the plants inside the fence and outside it.

However, the Eagle Project isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. As rewarding as it is to be making a difference for future generations, what really matters is that I learned how to deal with planning and managing a complex undertaking and the people and resources necessary to complete it. This really stretched me out of my comfort zone, but isn’t this what Peddie teaches us? The hard work I’ve done in my academically rigorous classes, and the personal growth I’ve experienced through my time on the Track team and in my classes have helped me become someone who could accomplish this. I would also like to thank the Peddie School for allowing me some Saturdays to attend important Scouting events.

    Scouting is a learning process throughout the journey from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout. In my experience, the more I matured and ranked up, the more responsibilities I had. I had to learn how deal with those new responsibilities every time I was given them. Of course, the levels of responsibility I was given were gradually built up in increments, so it’s not as if an 11-year-old me was suddenly thrown into a situation of immense responsibility that I couldn’t handle. The Eagle Scout Project is a great example of how Scouting is a learning process. The specific physical product at the end of an Eagle Project is great, but the best thing is knowing that I can create & manage a project and lead a group of people to get it done. Like so much we do in high school, becoming an Eagle Scout is about reaching high to become something more.