Sophomores in scouts navigate path to Eagle ranking


OUT OF RANGE Jacob Perkins ‘25 backpacking on a trip last summer to Philmont, part of a mountain range owned by Boy Scouts of America in New Mexico. “My favorite part of scouts is when you’re an older scout, you can do High Adventure,” says Perkins. “This trip was 14 days of intense backpacking and I plan on backpacking for 21 days this summer too.”

Eleana Zhuang, Lifestyles staff

“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” That is the Scout Oath that Ayaan Ahmed ’25, Jacob Perkins ’25, and Lauren Sheffield ’25 try to live up to every day. Scouts have weekly meetings and monthly campouts, but it is also full of other opportunities that these three sophomores have taken advantage of.

“Scouts is an organization where young kids from across the world come together,” said Ahmed. “It’s about having fun, becoming a better person, and learning new things.”

A big aspect of scouts is the desire for merit badges which is a prominent part of each meeting. Through the process of earning these badges, scouts learn a variety of skills, from cooking to learning about the United States government.

“You have a merit badge counselor for every merit badge and the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) have many pamphlets of requirements you need to complete in order to get the badge,” said Sheffield. “For example, we are learning about photography right now and my dad is the counselor because of the sports photography he does for Greenhills.”

For Perkins, his troop goes with a method called the edge method, a four-step technique that helps scouts not only earn a merit badge, but also retain the skills that they learn.

“Older scouts first teach us how to do the skill, demonstrate it in front of us, guide us through it, and lastly have us do it on our own,” said Perkins.

The time commitment for most scouts is about one to two hours, but Ahmed has taken up a leadership position that requires more time and effort for his troop. 

“Scouts is really about leadership in young people which is why the adults are only there to supervise,” said Ahmed. “As a leader, I plan and run meetings, and plan what we’re doing at campouts that happen once every month.”

Perkins shares a similar experience with Ahmed where he spends extra hours outside of meetings to plan. 

“I lead meetings so when we start, I organize and make sure everything is running smoothly,” said Perkins. “Having a leadership position also means I have separate meetings with other leaders and during that time we plan future meetings and campouts.”

In 2019, Boy Scouts of America made their program available to girls. Now, girls can start troops that are subsections of the boy’s troops. Although the program is still referred to as Boy Scouts, both boys and girls earn the same merit badges and achieve the same rank. Sheffield decided to join after the pandemic, resulting in a late start for her in the scouting community. 

“I started at the beginning of ninth grade, but most people go through cub scouts when they’re in seventh grade,” said Sheffield. “I heard about it from one of my close friends who is in a troop that needed new members.”

Sheffield’s troop is very small, with only six people, when usually most troops have 15-20 people. This has led to some limitations for her and her troop. 

“We usually work on merit badges together during meetings and sometimes we plan other trips, but my troop has a hard time going on them because of the size,” said Sheffield. “I would rather have more people but I can’t do much about it. We bond better but it also leads to potential new tensions which are gonna happen with every group.”

Ahmed’s favorite part of scouts is ​​the Mackinaw Scout Service Camp, a limited opportunity that only a select number of scouts get to experience. This requires him to stand in a position called parade rest for two to three hours like a soldier. 

“We are a part of the governor’s honor guard which is very official and the governor of Michigan came out to shake hands with some of us,” said Ahmed. “We help out tourists when they come out and ask for directions. There is a long flight of stairs where we help people carry their stuff up. We’re also supposed to know the history of Mackinaw Island before going, so we tell people about it as well.”

Ahmed, Perkins, and Sheffield have had different experiences with scouts, but one goal is the same for all three of them: to achieve the Eagle Scout rank. Once they achieve the Eagle, they hope to continue until the end of high school. 

“Once you turn 18 you cannot be a scout anymore,” said Ahmed. “You can come back as an adult leader though, hopefully, I will get Eagle this year, and then I can stay on as a leader and come back as an adult leader.”