By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Joseph Guggenberger is walking through the halls of North Andover High School – and running with his cross country teammates – with a bit more confidence this year.
Guggenberger, 16, earned Scouting’s highest rank earlier this year. A member of Troop 81, based at the Congregational Church of Topsfield, he received the badge at a court of honor in June.
The single most challenging requirement for earning the rank of Eagle Scout is developing and leading a community service project. Guggenberger and 25 Scouts under his direction built four benches for the MSPCA–Nevins Farm in Methuen. They completed the project last November.
Besides building the benches, Guggenberger raised $1,500 for the materials, he said.
He remains active in his troop as a junior assistant scoutmaster. He has also served as an assistant patrol leader, patrol leader and senior patrol leader.
In addition to Scouting, Guggenberger has been a member of the Sea Cadet Corps for the past year. He told The Eagle-Tribune he hopes to enter the Naval Academy after graduating from North Andover High in 2015.
If he does not get accepted at Annapolis, he said, he plans to enroll at a college or university that offers an ROTC program.
Guggenberger is literally a young man on the run, participating in cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring. On the track, his specialties are the mile and 2-mile runs.
Guggenberger comes from a Scouting family. His father, Kurt, is an Eagle Scout and “talked fondly about his Scouting experiences,” his mother, Anne Marie, said. Joe began his Scouting career as a Tiger Cub, she said, and stuck with it all the way to his Eagle court of honor and beyond.
“Fortunately, Joseph liked it,” she said of her son’s time as a Scout. She credits Scouting with providing “moral character building” and leadership training for young men.
A few weeks after his court of honor, Kurt and Joseph Guggenberger, a father-and-son Eagle team, headed for the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and completed a 2-week trek through the outdoors.
That experience instilled more confidence in this young man who aspires to become a naval officer.