Preparing to soar with the eagles

Posted in: Society
By Kaye Collier
Nov 1, 2012 - 8:35:58 AM

THIS IS THE PLAN, GUYSSome adolescents in this area undoubtedly spent fall break with their families, enjoying trips to the lake or to Grandma’s. Others probably took advantage of the unseasonably-warm days to bike, skateboard or—brrr—swim (it wasn’t all that warm).
Then there were those who camped out in techie land, talking, texting, Facebooking or playing video games.
Or reading. Yeah, sure.
But how many 14-year-old boys do you suppose sacrificed their fall break to benefit their community by sprucing up a city park?
To be exact, four.
The designer of this project was Seth Hodges, a young man who had joined the BSA as a Cub Scout at age 6 and almost immediately set his sights on becoming an Eagle Scout.
Considering his age at the time and the requirements for attaining this rank, Seth had set a lofty goal for himself. Only about five percent of Boy Scouts meet the demands for accomplishing this task, but the first-grader was a determined young man.
One of the requirements is to plan, organize, lead and supervise an extensive service project that demonstrates the seeker’s leadership capabilities and dedication to duty.
The project must benefit a religious institution, a school or his community. It cannot benefit the BSA in any way, cannot have any commercial overtones, and cannot be solely a fund-raising endeavor.
After submitting his Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, the next steps will be participation in a scoutmaster conference and an appearance before an Eagle Scout board of review composed of adult Eagle Scouts from the Last Frontier Council. Seth will undergo extensive questioning from the board, and he must provide acceptable responses.
Significance
The rank of Eagle Scout has been achieved by more than two million young men nationwide since its inception.
This may seem like a large number, but the fact that the rank was introduced more than a century ago, combined with the reality that the BSA has attracted a vast number of young men within that time frame—these things put the highly-regarded honor into better perspective.
The rank is for life. Eagle Scouts are expected not only to be role models for other scouts, but to continue to exhibit the same qualities of leadership in life that they demonstrated in scouting.
Because of this expectation, Eagle Scouts are disproportionately represented in the military and its academy graduates, as well as in academia, business, politics, the major professions and the clergy.
In fact, those who enlist in America’s military may receive promotions in NEW LEASE ON LIFErecognition of their achievements.
A few of the more notable Eagle Scouts are astronauts Neil Armstrong and James Lovell; former president Gerald Ford; producer/director Steven Spielberg; Gen. William Westmoreland; statesmen Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld; former FBI director Louis Freeh; and businessmen Sam Walton and Ross Perot.
When he makes Eagle Scout, Seth will be in heady company.
Getting there
For his own Eagle project, Seth decided to make improvements to Redbud Park. Many of the park’s structures were weathered, peeling and rusting. He figured refurbishing these items would have a positive impact on his community because of the popularity of the site.
The preparations actually started on October 6, when Seth and fellow-scout Dakota Freer scraped, sanded and applied primer to the footbridge. The next day, Seth and his grandparents put in another 4 ½ hours.
Then during fall break, he and three other scouts—14-year-olds Zach Himes and Jordan Kraft, along with 13-year-old Jacob Wise—gathered in the park on Saturday morning. When Seth and his grandfather, Thomas Reed, who is a scout leader for Troop 4434, arrived early, the air was still quite frigid. But by the time the crewmembers arrived, it was shirtsleeve weather.
The project chiefly involved painting a number of the accoutrements at the park. Seth and his granddad had made arrangements with the city of Marlow in advance. The city provided the paint, Seth’s family furnished the tools and equipment, and the four strapping teens supplied the manpower.
The boys scraped, sanded and painted six picnic tables, including the framework, and replaced a seat on one. Furthermore, they applied a new coat of paint to the supports and handrails on the footbridge, as well as to the benches lining the park’s arched bridge.
To ensure that none of the boys took the term “fall. . .
break” too seriously, Grandpa Tom painted the pole supporting a basketball goal.
Quintessential
Boy Scout
In the eight years since he joined the Boy Scouts of America, Seth has received numerous awards while advancing through the ranks, including the coveted Arrow of Light, the greatest honor a Cub Scout can achieve.
He is currently a Life Scout with BSA Troop 4434 in Duncan and is committed to completing all of the requirements for Eagle Scout.
One of these is to earn 21 merit badges; Seth has 25. He has also been inducted into the Order of the Arrow, an elite group within scouting equivalent to an honor society.
In addition to camping, rock-climbing, swimming, canoeing and fishing with his troop, Seth enjoys honing his marksmanship skills with rifles, shotguns and handguns. He is remarkably skilled with the tomahawk and knife, and his accuracy with a bow and arrow is above-average.
Scouts are encouraged to adopt community-service projects, both individually and collectively.
Seth’s have involved giving the parking posts at Redbud Park a new splash of paint; spreading wood chips at the Hideout and the Duncan library; placing U.S. flags on the graves of veterans; working the concession stands at such activities as rodeos, bullriding events and concerts; serving at his troop’s annual pancake breakfast; assisting the Marlow Samaritans; and helping other senior scouts with their own projects.
Altogether, Seth has served as chaplain aide of his troop for 24 months, having been elected by his peers four different times. In this capacity, he presents devotionals and leads in prayer, not only at troop meetings, but also at camping events that have attracted up to 15 other troops.
His grandmother, Yvette Reed, indicated last week that Seth has no qualms whatsoever about addressing a group, whether large or small.
“To me,” Seth noted, “Eagle Scout is an honor that is earned through hard work and perseverance. Though it is not easy to earn it, those who apply themselves to the work and complete the work are successful. Those that earn the rank are looked up to by younger scouts as both role models and teachers.
“Eagle Scouts have learned the very heart of boy scouting itself to get to where they are,” he continued. “They learn survival skills, building skills and camping skills to get the rank. Even then, Eagle Scouts may have more to learn and to pass on to the younger generations than they thought they could.
“Also,” he concluded, “Eagle Scouts may find it easier to receive jobs and the respect of those around them.”   
Other interests
Son of the late N’Keigh Hodges, Seth has a younger sister, Julie Macedo of Duncan. After his mother’s death, the Reeds sought and were awarded guardianship of their grandson.
A freshman at Marlow High School, Seth is a straight-A student who played percussion in the middle school band for three years.
He has received martial arts instruction at Dressler’s Academy in Duncan for the past six years, where he is a purple belt in Bushido-Kai karate. He has also spent two years in Brazilian Jujitsu training.
(In other words, don’t mess with him.)
He is active in the youth group at the First Baptist Church; and in his leisure time, he enjoys reading and playing video games with friends.
Seth plans to attend college and ultimately enter the field of science in some capacity. Considering his level of commitment to any task at hand, he should find success in whatever he chooses to do.