When Eagle Scouts get busy, a whole community benefits.
Just ask officials at Virginia Cross Elementary School, Northwood High School, Peasant Hill United Methodist Church and the Moncure Fire Department — each sporting bright new landscapes thanks to the efforts of four young men who have made Scouting part of their lives.
Lifelong friendships were forged under the iconic fleur de lis emblem of Scouts BSA when four boys got their start in Scouting a decade ago. A week from Saturday, on May 21, they’ll spread their wings and soar when they receive their Eagle rank in a special ceremony at the United Methodist Church in Pittsboro.
On a recent mild evening, Logan Quinlan, Peter Droese, and twins Andrew and Anthony Trotter gathered at the Harold Boone Scout Hut in Pittsboro before the start of the Troop 93’s regular weekly meeting. Decked out in their uniforms, they showed off sashes emblazoned with dozens of merit badges, accumulated over years of Scouting.
Assistant Scout Master Mack Thorpe made a lap around the room, plucking ball caps off heads one by one as the Scouts grinned and smoothed down unruly hair.
All four will graduate at Northwood High School on June 10.
Making a trail through Scouting
“I actually got into Scouting before I was even born,” said Quinlan, who said he believes his Scouting journey was predestined. His older brothers were in 1st grade when they followed the lure of adventure and joined a local Cub Scout troop. By the time Quinlan came along, his entire family was hooked, and Scouting had become part of their family life. By achieving Scouting’s highest rank, Quinlan follows the path forged by his brothers, who are Eagle Scouts too.
Twins Anthony and Andrew Trotter joined Cub Scouts as 1st graders. Peter Droese entered a little later in life, signing up as a Webelo when he was in the 4th grade.
To reach the Eagle rank, Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges, which do not come easily — some take as long as a year to complete, and they must complete all the requirements by the time they are 18. The BSA offers 137 different badges, rewards for a seemingly endless quest to learn skills and practice good works. In addition to the traditional Scout badges like first aid, camping and citizenship, the organization keeps up with the times. Today’s modern Scouts can learn game design, digital technology, computer science and other tech badges.
Quinlan, who has 39 badges, lives on a family farm and is an officer in the Northwood High School chapter of Future Farmers of America. He knew early on that he wanted to build a chicken coop for his FFA club at the school for his Eagle project.
“I built the coop to help further the education of the future farmers in our community,” he said.
The coop has a walk-in nesting box attached to an enclosed pen that feeds into fenced-in run to keep the chickens safe. He stocked the coop with a small flock of laying hens from his own family’s farm.
Droese, who has earned 26 merit badges over his nine years in Scouting, revived the cemetery at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church in Siler City.
The ancient cemetery is home to graves dating back more than 200 years. According to the Cemetery Census website, the first burial in that cemetery was in 1831. Many stones were broken and dirty, and Droese recruited other Scouts and adults to help clean and repair them.
“There’s a cemetery repair shop here, and I went up there to talk to them and they told me what materials to use and kind of how to do the restorations,” he said.
On one of Droese’s workdays, he experienced gratitude firsthand.
“I was out cleaning stones, and someone came to visit the grave of a family member and talked to me for about 20 minutes about how much better the cemetery looked,” he said. “And that was before I had even started any of the repairs.”
Andrew Trotter, who has 35 merit badges, refurbished the landscaping around the Moncure Fire Station #14, installed a flagpole with a lighting system and added an U.S. flag retirement box — a receptacle members of the community can use to drop off tattered, old, worn-out American flags destined for their final retirement. Retired flags are usually honored in a special ceremony and then destroyed according to guidelines in the U.S. Flag Code.
He installed the box in 2021, and the community is already putting it to good use.
“After the first month of having the box down at the station, I checked on it and there were over 45 flags in there, waiting to be retired,” he said. “We retired those, and now there are 28 more flags in the box.”
Anthony Trotter, who has 37 badges, built and installed three benches for the outdoor playground at Virginia Cross Elementary School in Siler City. He also repainted the U.S. map on the outdoor basketball court at the school, where students learn and identify the states that make up our country, he said.
“When I decided my project would be to install benches at the playground, the problem I ran into was that the school didn’t want them to be made out of wood,” he said. “So, we decided to make them out of Trex, which is a plastic composite.”
This is the first time Thorpe can remember having four boys in Troop 93 experience their entire Scouting journey from beginning to end and reach their Eagle rank together. After they receive their Eagle badges, they will join a long line of local Eagle Scouts, raising the total to 79. Troop 93 is a member of the Eno River District of the Occoneechee Council, headquartered in Raleigh. David Lorbacher is the scoutmaster.
In addition to celebrating four newly minted Eagle Scouts, the Troop itself is reaching a milestone.
“Troop 93, which was chartered on March 17, 1947, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year,” Thorpe said. “We are planning a big celebration.”
Boy Scouts of America was established in 1910, and more than 2.25 million young men have made Eagle, including famous Americans like Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon; Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winning film director; and Stephen G. Breyer, associate justice of United States Supreme Court.
In 2019, the BSA organization was rebranded as Scouts BSA to allow girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Troop 93 does not have any female Scouts yet, Thorpe said. But when they do join, they must operate under the same requirements as boys to become Eagles.
In addition to progressing through the Scouting ranks, earning merit badges, and completing community projects, prospective Eagle Scouts develop leadership skills, and they learn to take responsibility for significant accomplishments — none more significant than their final project.
From beginning to end, prospective Eagles engage in comprehensive planning, execution and follow-up. This includes raising money to pay for materials and finding people to donate labor when needed.
To make an arduous task even more daunting, the boys worked on their projects during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted their fundraising efforts.
“I didn’t want to bring everybody together for fundraisers because of the shutdown, so I just asked for donations through Facebook and other things like that,” Anthony Trotter said.
Droese funded his project from money he has earned as a lifeguard, camp counselor and at his job at Marco’s Pizza in Pittsboro. He reckons between applying for his project and reporting on its completion, he filled out more than 60 pages of reports.
“You have to write a proposal, and that’s probably 30 pages of information such as a rough estimate of materials, planning, all that other stuff,” he said. “Then after you finish, you report back on any difficulties, project changes, fundraising efforts, financial information, photos and the people who volunteered, and that’s another 30 pages.”
Beyond the tangible successes associated with Scouting come the aspects that really matter — the ones not visible to the naked eye like leadership, camaraderie and growth.
Those qualities are not lost on Quinlan, who values his role as a mentor to younger Scouts.
“I was a senior assistant patrol leader, helping the younger kids get acclimated to Scouting, helping them learn their requirements, achieve rank,” he said. “It makes me feel good helping other Scouts get closer to Eagle.”
For these Scouts, their leadership paths became epic journeys where lifelong friendships were forged, even across time zones.
Andrew Trotter names two ways Scouting has changed his life.
“Scouting helped me create friendships I’ll probably keep for the rest of my life,” he said. “And through Scouting, I’ve learned the importance of having patience, because to get everything completed, it takes 10 to 12 years, and you can’t rush through it.”
In a young person’s life, big events can seem like endings, but they are not. Instead, they are new beginnings.
This summer, when these four friends receive their high school diplomas and their Eagle Scout badges, they will close the door on their childhood and cross the threshold as adults.
Droese and the Trotters plan to enroll at Central Carolina Community College. Quinlan is building a local demolition and removal business and plans to begin training for a career as a firefighter.
Scouting has gotten into their blood. It has become an essential part of who they are, and they can’t imagine their lives without it. They may even become Scout leaders themselves one day.
As they move on from this place in time, get jobs, start families, one thing they won’t shake is the unbreakable bond they have formed as they persevered to become Eagle Scouts together.
And in the end, that may be their most valuable reward.
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