Local view: John Bennett achieves Eagle Scout rank

Phillipston is proud to announce that John Bennett from Boy Scout Troop 39 has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. His award was presented on Jan. 8 in a ceremony at the Congregational Church of Phillipston.

How many of you know how Boy Scouting came to America? And what inspired someone to bring the organization here?

Boy Scouting has an interesting history and its goals have been maintained for over 100 years. It was started in England in 1908 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell who was a highly honored Major General in the Army. When he retired from his military service, he thought about how young boys could benefit from an organization that gave them opportunities to grow physically and mentally, an organization that could help them grow into strong manhood, one with a goal to help other people at all times.

Eagle Scout John Bennett pins his Mother’s Recognition pin on his mother, Christine Bennett.
Eagle Scout John Bennett pins his Mother’s Recognition pin on his mother, Christine Bennett.

Slowly and carefully he developed his Scouting ideas, and wrote a handbook that he named Scouting for Boys. The slogan in it strongly emphasized "Do a good turn daily." That slogan is what brought Boy Scouts to America.

In 1910, when American publisher William Boyce was on a business trip in London, a young boy approached him asking if he could help carry his heavy luggage. Mr. Boyce appreciated the help as it was a lengthy walk to his hotel. He expected the boy was assisting him in hopes of receiving some payment. However, when he went to pay, the boy refused to take it. The boy told him he was a Boy Scout and Boy Scouts liked doing a good turn to help people.

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Mr. Boyce asked him about Boy Scouts and was so impressed that he went to visit Baden-Powell to learn more about it. When he returned to America, he brought the Boy Scout plan with him, and since then about 110 million Americans have participated in the Boy Scout program.

The Boy Scouts have ranks just as the military does, and Eagle is the highest rank. It takes focus, commitment, organization, and work to become an Eagle. He has to achieve 21 badges; 14 of them are required badges. They are designed to help the Scout achieve essential diverse skills that will help him reach his highest potential and become a man who will be a benefit to his family, community, and country.

The Eagle Scout has to earn badges that teach first aid, including doing proper CPR; badges where he has to learn how governments work locally, nationally, and internationally; badges that require his physical fitness development such as swimming or hiking; badges that develop an appreciation of nature and caring for the earth; badges that emphasize the importance of cooperation and responsibility in one's home and community; badges that teach real life applications such as good personal care and money management; a badge on camping, something Boy Scouts do a lot of, and those experiences lead to good social growth, fun, and opportunities to incorporate a lot of activities taught in the other badges. All of the badges are ones that pave a good life path.

State Rep. Susannah Whipps and state Sen. Anne Gobi present citations to Eagle Scout John Bennett.
State Rep. Susannah Whipps and state Sen. Anne Gobi present citations to Eagle Scout John Bennett.

Bennett's Eagle Scout project

To culminate the lengthy process of meeting the Eagle requirements, an Eagle must do a project that will benefit his community. John Bennett made a fine stone fire pit where retired American flags can be burned. He conducted the first burning last November on Veterans Day in a ceremony that honored our country and the veterans who risked their lives to preserve our freedom.

The pit is conveniently located on 2A at the Phillipston Fire Department. People can put worn-out flags in a Flag Retirement Drop Box that was previously built by Eagle Scout Ryder Choquette. The box is located at the fire station where the flags are stored until the next burning ceremony.

The community appreciates and looks up to the Eagle Scouts who created a means for residents to respectfully retire their flags. Captain John Seamon said people are being very responsive in turning in their worn-out flags.

John Bennet honors Eagle Scout Al Rose with a Mentor pin.
John Bennet honors Eagle Scout Al Rose with a Mentor pin.

Colleges and work places recognize the exceptional achievement of Eagle Scout; it can give an applicant an advantage over other applicants. And, there's an automatic advancement in rank if an Eagle Scout joins the military. The rank of Eagle is an achievement that benefits a person forever.

It's not an achievement, that says, "I was an Eagle Scout." Like the Marine who is always a Marine, the Eagle Scout is always an Eagle Scout. John Bennett can forever proudly state, "I am an Eagle Scout."

Carole Gariepy is a Phillipston resident and author of “Dragging Gerry around the World” and “Why Go There?”

This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Phillipston's John Bennett achieves Eagle Scout rank