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Nationally, about 6 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. For Woodbury's Troop 60 that number is more than 20 percent.

In the last year Troop 60, which is based out of Lutheran Church of Peace in Maplewood, has had seven, of its roughly 30, scouts achieve the rank of Eagle, and another four are well on their way.

"They have stayed in, stayed active through their high school years and they have a willingness to put in that extra work," said Woodbury resident Mike Bradley, scoutmaster for Troop 60. "These kids have the fortitude to carry on."

In order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts must fulfill numerous criteria, including attaining 21 merit badges, participate in various outdoor activities while demonstrating leadership.

Additionally, Boy Scouts must also plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project that is helpful to any religious institution, any school or the community.

"It's difficult," Bradley said, "and becoming an Eagle Scout should be difficult."

The Eagle Scouts in Troop 60 are: Woodbury High School seniors Zach Wild, Nathan Arason and Seth Langer; Stillwater Area High School senior Dennis Toenjes; Woodbury High School junior Gavin Bradley; Math and Science Academy sophomore Vincent Ledvina; and Woodbury High School sophomore Ashray Gupta.

"It's just a very good group of boys that have all enjoyed the boy scouting experience," Bradley said.

Being a Boy Scout

Some of the skills and values developed through Boy Scouts include trustworthiness. loyalty, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, cheerfulness, thriftiness, braveness, cleanliness and being reverent.

Boy Scouts is also about getting outdoors, Bradley said.

Bradley first became involved with Boy Scouts in 2009 when his oldest son Gavin joined Cub Scouts as a pack leader. After Cub Scouts, Bradley became involved with Troop 60, ultimately becoming scoutmaster.

For Bradley, seeing his scouts grow and mature from the time they enter Boy Scouts in fifth grade until they graduate high school is one of his favorite things about being a scoutmaster.

"Just watching them turn into responsible young leaders is something really neat to see," he said. "They're going from rambunctious kids to mature young adults — it's really an incredible thing to watch."

Earning their Eagle

Even though the idea of becoming an Eagle Scout is talked about in Boy Scouts, Bradley said, it's not really something that the scoutmasters push on the scouts.

"We don't expect all the scouts coming in to become Eagle Scouts," he said. "As young scouts we're not really focused on that rank advancement because we're focused on having fun, getting outside and really enjoying one another and the experience that scouting gives."

That doesn't mean that Boy Scouts aren't thinking about it though.

"They become aware of Eagle Scouts right away," Bradley said. "They see that their peers are working hard and attaining that rank and they can see that it's possible for them to do it."

When a Boy Scout first starts thinking about going for the rank of Eagle Scout the first step is to pair him up with an Eagle Coach, who is typically an adult who has seen the process through previously.

With the help of their Eagle Coach, a Boy Scout then starts thinking about possible projects.

"Sometimes it's about wanting to help a certain organization, or sometimes it's about doing something that you're passionate about," Bradley said. "They start to understand what it takes to do these projects and how it benefits the community."

Even though Bradley is willing to help guide his Boy Scouts through their projects, it really comes down to them to plan everything themselves.

"The role of the Eagle Scout is to be the project manager," he said. "Everyone looks to the Eagle Scout to guide them through the whole process."

Many Eagle Scout candidates will work on multiple projects in order to help each other.

The projects completed by the Troop 60 Eagle Scouts are as follows:

• Gupta planted 25 mid-size trees in the Bailey's Arbor neighborhood.

• Wild planted 30 trees around a park near Woodbury High School.

• Toenjes painted the youth house and garage at Lutheran Church of Peace.

• Langen built a storage cabinet for Joseph's Coat in St. Paul.

• Arason constructed birdhouses for chimney sweeps at the Warner Nature Center in Lake Elmo.

• Ledvina designed a recycling program at Math and Science Academy in Woodbury.

• Bradley's son Gavin constructed a pergola at the Woodbury campus of Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church, in order to stop people from climbing up on, and vandalizing, the church's roof.

In addition to the project itself, each Eagle Scout also has to complete a portfolio of their project that includes the specifics of the project, an application for the rank of Eagle Scout and letters of recommendation among others.

"Doing the Eagle project is sometimes easier than doing the paperwork," Bradley said.

After completing the project and the paperwork an Eagle Scout candidate will next go before a board of review, which will determine whether or not he achieved the Eagle Scout rank.

Each Eagle Scout then receives an Eagle Court of Honor, a celebration recognizing his achievement.

Bradley said he is very proud of his seven Eagle Scouts for their achievements.

"They face a lot of pressure in school that it's not cool to be in Boy Scouts, so to stay in scouts is impressive," he said. "But all of a sudden when you become an Eagle Scout, the recognition of that even impresses their peers."

Troop 60 will potentially be getting more Eagle Scouts this year now that four of the troop's Life Scouts are working on their projects.

Those scouts are:

• Woodbury High School sophomore Akul Seshadri, who is repairing trails and erosion control at Pilot Knob Hill in Mendota Heights;

• Math and Science Academy sophomore Siddharth Godavarti, who is is doing a project at a Hindu temple in St. Louis Park;

• Joe Kaminski, who is constructing a patio and other landscaping under the pergola at the UMC;

• and East Ridge High School senior David Bertrand, who is constructing a gagaball pit at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.

Bradley said he can't say enough positive things about the scouts in Troop 60 and the lessons they have learned through Boy Scouts.

"Through the scouting process, the boys learn how to lead, but more important than that is that they learn how to follow," he said. "There's a reason why employers like to see Eagle Scouts on their resume because to get to this point these boys have to do things that other teenagers just don't do."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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