EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 3, 2013

The Essence of Earning Eagle

Area Boy Scouts cite their greatest challenges on the road to scout's highest honor

Andover Boy Scout Troop 76 Scoutmaster Don Milligan said it took him many years to realize “what a big deal” it was for him to earn the rank of Eagle Scout back in 1952.

“I got my badge on my 15th birthday and at the time, it really didn’t mean a lot,” Milligan, 75, recalled of how he once downplayed one of the greatest accomplishments of his young life.

“It was something I became more proud of when I got involved in scouting as an adult leader. Yeah, I think it’s a big deal now. That’s why I push it on the troop,” he said.

“When I have (an Eagle Scout) court of honor, I give a little talk. I try to catch the kids’ attention and the parents’ attention too, because the parents are just as important as the kids when it comes to earning the Eagle badge. The kids need their support,” he said.

In 25 years as scoutmaster of one of Andover’s oldest scout troops, he’s had 54 of his scouts — including his two sons, Craig and Eric — earn the rank of Eagle.

Six members of Troop 76 were among the 188 scouts who were honored Friday night by the Yankee Clipper Council during its annual Eagle Scout recognition banquet held at the Wyndham Boston Andover.

“It means a lot to me because it’s hard work,” said Ross Barton, 19, one Troop 76’s newest Eagles. He noted building a handicapped accessible bridge along the hiking trail at West Parish Meadow as the toughest challenge of his Eagle Scout journey.

“It’s something I’m proud of, not just for myself — but for my parents too, because my parents encouraged me and helped me a lot,” he said.

Most of the Eagle Scouts interviewed Friday night said the greatest challenge they faced on the road to Scouting’s highest rank was organizing and completing the mandatory community service project.

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