By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 —
Boy Scouts of all ages and locations gathered at Camp John J. Barnhardt Thursday evening for the first-ever Gathering of the Eagles for this area. The event was sponsored by the local Central North Carolina Council National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) Committee. It was held in honor of the 100 year celebration of the Eagle Scout Award.
The ceremony included food, fellowship and awards, culminating with the bestowing of the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award. Keynote speaker for the evening was Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley.
Local NESA Chairmen Ryan Mills was in attendance, having helped to organize the event.
“This is our first-ever gathering of the Eagles for this council. In honor of the event, we’ve been hosting camp tours throughout the day, from four to six. Tonight we’re celebrating the 100th year anniversary of giving out the Eagle Scout Award; the first one was awarded in 1912. The Boy Scouts of America just turned 100 only two years ago,” Mills said.
Todd Walter, the local NESA Council executive, was also at the gala of Eagles.
“I’m so excited about tonight,” Walter said.
“We’ve been talking and talking, trying to get something organized. I think there were over 200 RSVPs, but I believe we will have more than that here tonight.
“I can’t imagine how many Eagles we have here tonight. The leadership positions in this community held by Eagles is profound. Eagles are not for themselves, but for their community. Ryan Mills has been a driver in all of this. He’s owned this thing. I’m so grateful to him for his efforts and to Mayor Whitley for being our keynote speaker.”
Before the evening’s festivities began, Greg Thomas, the emcee for the night, helped to warm the crowd up by playing a little game. By asking for a show of hands, Thomas requested the eldest Eagle Scouts identify themselves and from there, Thomas wheedled out the senior Eagle in attendance. Funny enough, Mayor Whitley was the senior Eagle Scout present, at age 79. Thomas played the same game for the youngest Eagle, identifying him as 14-year-old Marshal Brady. The youngest and eldest Eagles stood before the crowd in an interesting juxtaposition of ages and answered Scout trivia questions.
As Whitley took the dais to speak, an image appeared on the overhead: a picture of Whitley’s former troop. Whitley identified some of them as Ed Crutchfield, former CEO of First Union, and Bill Grigg, former CEO of Duke Energy.
“I still have my copy of the Boy Scout Handbook,” said Whitley as he addressed those assembled.
“It was first published in 1910. This copy is from 1944, when it was only 50 cents. This book is one of the best sellers of all time, second only to the Bible. I believe the lessons in this handbook are like those in the Bible...
“I became an Eagle 64 years ago. But, what does being an Eagle Scout mean to you? It means you wanted to achieve, you wanted to be somebody and you worked for it. You learn to love and respect the flag, country and fellow man. Eagle Scout isn’t an achievement, it’s a way of life.”
Following Whitley’s address, Thomas announced the recipient of the 2012 NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award.
“He has been listed as a Scout for the last 57 years. He achieved his Eagle Scout on Feb. 1, 1962. He was a former Scout Master of Troop 5 ... He is a lifetime member of Kohl Spring United Methodist Church and has served as mayor of Mt. Pleasant ... It is my honor and privilege to announce the recipient of the inaugural NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award as Troy Barnhardt.”
“I doubt I can speak,” Barnhardt said.
“It only takes an hour a meeting. I love it. My father taught me well. I love scouting. I don’t know what else to say.”
Barnhardt did comment that he had 15 Eagle Scouts in his family, an accomplishment of which he’s proud.
For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, visit scouting.org.