According to Boy Scouts of America statistics, the average age of a Scout when he earns the organization’s highest rank of Eagle Scout is 17. However, there are exceptions like Nathan Reynolds, a Buckeye Valley student, who earned his Eagle Scout rank at 14.
What was Reynolds’ drive to beat the odds? He said at first it was a friendly little competition among friends, then it became a matter of sibling rivalry to earn his Eagle Scout rank at a younger age than his brother, Joe Reynolds, who earned his rank at 16.
“I was originally trying to beat Joe by at least a month or two,” Nathan Reynolds said. “Then I wanted to see if I could get it at the same age as my grandpa.”
Nathan’s grandfather, Ron Robinson, 74, of Dayton, earned his Eagle Scout at the age of 14 in 1959.
“The drive for me was we lived in this little town and back then we didn’t have basketball and stuff like we do today,” Robinson said. “Boy Scouts, man! That was our only activity. That was it. There were only about five or six guys in town, and Scouts was our whole livelihood back then.”
Putting his youth into perspective, Robinson said the only activities available were Scouting and baseball. He said if they wanted to play a game of baseball, they had to recruit the older girls at the park to have enough players for two teams.
“We had to have at least five on a team,” he said. “We only had like six guys, so we needed four or five girls to have enough to play teams.”
Reynolds’ father, Ryan Reynolds, earned his Eagle Scout rank back in 1991 when he was in Scouting, so he understands what it takes to achieve the rank.
“It’s not easy to make Eagle,” Ryan Reynolds said. “But, it is fun.”
Earning the rank of Eagle Scout takes many hours of activity in leadership roles, working on merit badges, learning physical and social skills, camping, and service projects.
Scouters must achieve the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life; earn at least 21 merit badges, 17 of which are requirements for Eagle rank, out of the 135 badge activities offered; participate in leadership roles within the Troop; and plan, manage and conduct an Eagle service project approved by a Scout Master board of review before turning 18.
Nathan Reynolds said he attended four Scout camps throughout the years to earn the majority of his merit badges.
“I’d get all of my requirements for merit badges done before camp, and I’d get five or six merit badges at every summer camp,” he said. “Once I got Life Scout, I started to work toward Eagle. It took a little over a year.”
Nathan Reynolds said his project involved creating a reading garden at St. Mary School in Delaware.
“We dug out the area a little bit and filled it with smooth river rocks and furniture,” he said. “We used a rototiller and hand shoveled the dirt away.”
Now that he has earned the highest possible rank, Nathan Reynolds said he plans to hang out, do the fun things, and hit all of Boy Scouts of America’s high adventure camps.
“It’s called a grand slam,” Ryan Reynolds said.
“I’ve been to Sea Base (in the Florida Keys),” Nathan Reynolds added. “It’s a lot of dudes on a pretty small boat, but we went island hopping and snorkeling at times and it rained almost every night.”
Boy Scouts of America operates the high adventure camps of Sea Base in the Florida Keys, Northern Tier High Adventure Base in Minnesota, Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, and Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
Nathan Reynolds said the worst night of his life was earning his Wilderness Survival merit badge when one night he had an unwelcomed sheltermate.
“It was so uncomfortable, there was a bunch of animals running through our campsite and I got a mouse in my shelter,” he said. “Someone had a snake.”