December 04, 2013 - Keegan Konkle is now part of a rare breed.
Eagle Scout Keegan Konkle (right) received his medal and certificate Friday from Blake Streeter, scoutmaster for Oxford Boy Scout Troop 366. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
On Friday, the Oxford High School junior officially became an Eagle Scout during a Court of Honor ceremony held at Oxford United Methodist Church.
"I feel really honored because I know not a lot of scouts get here," said Konkle, 16, a member of Boy Scout Troop 366 and a resident of Brandon Township.
"He's one of the best scouts we've had in our troop in a long time – always helpful, courteous," said Troop 366 Scoutmaster Blake Streeter. "I've enjoyed his company and having him at the camp-outs to help with the younger scouts as they were learning the skills."
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America.
Earning this rank is not a common or easy thing to do as demonstrated by the fact that approximately 7 percent (or 57,976) of all Boy Scouts earned this honor in 2012.
Since 1912, more than 2 million Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout rank.
To achieve this, a scout must rise through the ranks; serve six months in a troop leadership position; earn 21 merit badges (12 of which are required) in a variety of areas; and successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review process.
A scout must also plan, develop and serve as leader in a service project that helps a religious organization, school or community.
For his Eagle project, Konkle erected a flagpole surrounded by a colorful garden full of native plants at Camp Wilderness, the youth group campsite located at Independence Oaks County Park in Independence Township.
A scout must complete all the requirements before his 18th birthday in order to join the elite ranks of the Eagle.
"I would say 16 is the magic (age) to get your Eagle (rank)," noted Konkle, who will turn 17 in January.
That's because as many scouts get older and receive their driver's licenses, they become interested in other things and begin to view scouting as a part of childhood, not adulthood, he explained.
But that didn't happened in Konkle's case.
He's the second member of his family to attain the Eagle Scout rank. It was seeing his uncle Mike Boyd's Eagle medal that first inspired him to pursue it.
Konkle has been involved in scouting since he was a second-grader at Daniel Axford Elementary School.
"Everybody was so excited to do stuff and it just felt like a great group to be a part of," he said. "It kept me from playing video games all the time, which I'm sure my parents are happy about."
His favorite part of scouting has been the outdoor experience, specifically hiking, shooting and camping.
Konkle particularly enjoyed the 60-mile "high-adventure backpacking" experience he completed as part of a group back in August at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.
"They drop you off and you hike your way back to base camp or to another pickup point," he said. "You spend six days carrying your own food, following the trails. You have to know how to navigate with a compass and map."
Konkle said the experience taught him that "you need to rely on people more than you think."
"You have to really care for each other," he said.
Konkle earned a total of 24 merit badges while pursuing the Eagle rank. Each signifies his mastery of certain outdoor skills or areas of personal interest.
His favorite merit badge is the one he earned for shotgun shooting. That's not surprising considering he enjoys turkey and duck hunting.
Earning this badge involved learning firearm safety, the role of hunting and the laws governing the sport and how to clean and care for a shotgun. It also involved enhancing his shooting skills and increasing his accuracy.
Overall, Konkle said scouting has taught him to always be polite to others.
He believes this is important because "not a lot of people are polite" in today's world.
Scouting also apparently taught him honesty and humility because even though the Boy Scouts' motto is "Be prepared," Konkle freely admitted, "I'm never always prepared."
"I know it's made me a better person," he added. "I don't know where I'd be without scouting."
Konkle highly recommends scouting to young boys and girls looking to better themselves, make friends and become more active.
"It's just a great all-around experience," he said. "You can't say it's not fun until you actually try it. Some people think it sounds really boring, but it really is a lot of fun."
Outside of scouting, Konkle plays soccer for the OHS junior varsity team and competes with the track and field team in the discus throw and shot put events.
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.