Not all teens would spend hours planning to fix up a family cemetery or historic church, but two did recently to earn Eagle Scout rank.
Hunter Brown and Aiden Nicholson, both members of Palestine’s Troop 440, completed their projects last fall and passed the Eagle Board of Review in April.
Each boy met the requirement by speaking in front of three adults from the district about their projects and what they learned. The review is the last step in becoming an Eagle Scout, an award that recognizes service and leadership.
Brown’s project involved washing gravestones, filling holes, and clearing limbs at the old Link Family Cemetery in Montalba, and he had a plan that meant recruiting help.
He developed leadership skills by procuring funds for supplies and equipment and assigning duties to 18 volunteers from age 11 to adult.
With plenty of help and the use of a tractor for moving dirt and tree limbs, cleaning the cemetery took less than four hours.
“I learned to lead a group of people toward a common goal,” said Brown, 15, a sophomore at the University Academy of Palestine.
Nicholson, also 15 and a freshman at Palestine High School, chose to fix up the Pilgrim Church in Elkhart by building a new pulpit and a sign in front of the church as well as repairing chinks between the logs.
Nicholson is a descendant of the Parker family, whose most famous members are Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped during a Comanche raid, and her son Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief.
“My family’s had a lot of history with that church,” said Nicholson. “We have a lot of family members buried out there. It’s kind of an honor.”
A branch of the Parker family settled the area and built the “Old Pilgrim” church in 1833, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas.
Another branch settled at Fort Parker in Limestone County, where the Comanche raid occurred. The survivors later settled at Fort Houston in Anderson County.
Nicholson’s older brother Ian also completed an Eagle Scout project at the Pilgrim Church.
Two other scouts still working on their Eagle Scout projects are David Oliver and Ian Niedecken. Oliver is improving the playground at Grace Church, while Niedecken plans to build blessing boxes, where donors can leave canned goods and nonperishable items for those in need.
The new Eagles will gain their wings in a future court of honor ceremony at a date yet to be determined. Oliver and Niedecken will likely participate in the Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.
Scoutmaster Scott Nicholson said scouting teaches maturity, life skills, and personal and financial management.
“Scouting’s about a lot more than learning to tie knots,” Nicholson said.
In his own life, earning the Eagle Scout badge helped the elder Nicholson learn first aid skills and get into college. For the teens, however, learning skills and earning the Eagle Scout merit aren’t the only reasons for doing their service projects.
“It’s not about completing Eagle,” said Brown. “It’s about all the fun you had along the way.”