December 12, 2012 - Having one Eagle Scout in the family is very impressive.
THREE GENERATIONS OF EAGLES – Charlie, Spencer and Tom Christen pose together at Oxford American Legion Post 108 on Monday night. That’s when Spencer received his Eagle badge, medal and certificate. His grandfather, Charlie, became an Eagle Scout in 1943 while his father, Tom, earned the Eagle rank in 1978. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Having three generations of Eagle Scouts in one family is downright astounding and definitely worthy of note.
On Monday night, Oxford High School junior Spencer Christen formally received his Eagle Scout badge and medal, making him the third generation and fourth person in his family to achieve this distinct honor.
His father, Oxford resident Tom Christen, 50, earned his Eagle badge in 1978 while his grandfather, Charlie Christen, 84, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned his in 1943. His great uncle, Joseph Christen, Jr., was an Eagle as well.
"I wanted to make them proud," said Spencer, who's a member of Boy Scout Troop 108 and has been involved in scouting since age 8. "I get to live up to what they did – and it's a lot of fun."
Spencer is the 16th Eagle Scout to come from Troop 108, which is sponsored by Oxford American Legion Post 108.
"I think it's wonderful," Charlie said. "I'm very proud of him. I think Spencer has got a lot out of it. It helps a boy to come out of his shell and be a leader. It meant a lot to me to become an Eagle and these days, I'm still proud to tell people I was an Eagle Scout."
"I'm pretty excited for him," Tom said. "To me, being an Eagle Scout is something that nobody can ever take away from you. It's an accomplishment that not every kid has achieved. A lot of kids that go through scouting don't get it. It says something about the person. There's a certain respect that goes with it. Obviously, I'm proud of Spencer and what he's accomplished."
Becoming an Eagle Scout isn't easy.
In order to earn the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America, a scout must be active in his troop and in a position of responsibility for a period of at least six months after earning the rank of Life Scout; demonstrate that he lives by the principles of Scout Oath and Law; and earn 21 merit badges in a variety of areas.
A scout must also plan, develop and serve as leader in a service project that helps a religious institution, school or his community.
Spencer's service project was to construct an outdoor storage shed for Upland Hills School in Addison Township. He's a graduate of the independent school.
"I like building things," he said.
A scout must do all of the above and successfully complete a board of review process before his 18th birthday in order to join the elite ranks of the Eagle.
Spencer will turn 18 in May.
Charlie earned his Eagle rank just five days prior to his 15th birthday.
"I was a busy guy," he said. "We had a very active scout troop."
Spencer indicated the most valuable thing scouting's taught him over the years is the importance of follow-through – once a project is started or a commitment is made, it must be seen through to the end.
"It teaches you a lot of good life lessons," he said.
He's also learned tolerance, how to be creative, proper communication skills and the importance of being considerate to others.
Because of all this, Spencer said he's "definitely more into helping other people."
As member of the National Honor Society at OHS, he recently helped out at a Christmas party for local senior citizens put on by the Rotary Club of Oxford.
"I loved doing that," he said. "It was a lot of fun."
Although it's been many years since either of them has worn a uniform, Charlie and Tom haven't forgotten the lessons scouting taught them.
For Tom, who works as a director of sales and engineering for an exhaust system supplier, scouting taught him how to "treat people right and the value of helping others and being a good citizen."
"It instilled values in me that I've carried throughout my life," he said.
Tom also learned how survive in the woods, deal with the elements and "take care of yourself."
"There's a lot of things that you get exposed to in scouting," he said. "You learn how to cook, (administer) first aid, use a compass – a lot of different aspects of life that on a normal basis, you might not have the opportunity to learn about."
For Charlie, who's a retired architect, scouting instilled in him a "very large interest in life."
"It takes 21 merit badges to become an Eagle Scout and with each one, you're delving into things that you didn't know about before or sometimes, never even heard of," he said. "It makes a person a little more whole. I think Spencer will know a little bit more than some boy next to him that has not been a scout."
Charlie believes every boy "needs something like" scouting to "help him along the way" in life and avoid temptations like drugs and "things of that nature."
"It definitely helped me," he said. "I looked at what I was and I felt proud. I felt good about it all."
When he's not busy scouting or studying, Spencer participates in three high school sports – soccer, golf and skiing.
Following high school, Spencer plans to attend college, earn a degree in aeronautics, then enter the United States Air Force where he hopes to become a pilot.
It seems only natural that an Eagle would want to spend his future soaring through the sky.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.