Boy Scout Troop 155 had quite a run from 2010-12, with eight members achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
The eight young men became close as they grew physically, mentally and morally over the years and decided to celebrate the achievement at a single Court of Honor.
The ceremony took place on a recent Sunday afternoon at Troop 155’s base, Saints United Lutheran Church, at 3200 Ryan Ave. in Mayfair.
“We’ve known each other all our lives,” said Charles Swan, one of the honorees. “It’s really like a second family. It’s been a good experience mainly because of the people involved.”
Ronald Woodward, another of the honorees, explained that the eight have a special camaraderie and fellowship.
“It’s an extended family. I grew up with these guys. I know I can trust them,” he said.
To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, a boy needs to be active in his troop; earn a variety of merit badges; demonstrate that he lives by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law; receive recommendations from people he knows; assume a position of responsibility; and plan and develop a service project that is helpful to a religious institution, school or the community.
The following Troop 155 members achieved the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America:
• Andrew Cassidy, 20, a Feasterville resident and art history major at Temple. He redesigned and added shelving at the food bank at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Feasterville. The food bank now has increased capacity and is able to help more people.
• Jerome Dopkin, 19, a Lexington Park resident and math major at the University of Pittsburgh. He painted a fence, resurfaced steps and installed a drainage system at Saints United Lutheran Church.
• Kevin Leonard, 19, a Mayfair resident and student at Community College of Philadelphia. He organized and managed a drive that collected more than 300 coats, 100 blankets and other winter clothing items for the poor and homeless who visit St. Francis Inn in Kensington. “A lot of people are homeless and don’t have coats and blankets,” he said.
• Jason McAteer, 20, a Holme Circle resident and sports business/medicine major at Kutztown. He traveled to the Far Northeast-based Aid for Friends and helped prepare 200 meals for homebound elderly people.
• Charles Swan Jr., 20, a Lower Mayfair resident who works full-time in the heating and air conditioning field. He collected more than 200 used cell phones that were shipped to the California-based Shelter Alliance for recycling. The proceeds were forwarded to Women in Transition, an organization that helps battered women in Philadelphia.
• Colin Sawyer, 18, a Mayfair resident and international relations major at Georgetown. He organized and managed a group of volunteers that beautified an area of Pennypack Park near Austin Meehan Middle School. They painted over graffiti, picked up beer cans and bottles and removed debris on trails following Hurricane Irene.
• Brandon Wagner, 18, a Mayfair resident and student at Millersville who plans to become a meteorologist. He organized and managed volunteers who sanded and painted the railings of Saints United Lutheran Church. They also weeded and placed mulch in a garden.
• Ronald Woodward, 18, a Tacony resident who works for a food processing equipment manufacturer. He remodeled the Feast of Justice food pantry room at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The job included painting, cleaning the carpets and repairing the damaged ceiling.
City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Kevin Boyle presented citations to the new Eagle Scouts. Henon was joined by his 9-year-old son, Zachary, who is a Webelos scout. His 11-year-old son, Matthew, is also a Webelos scout.
Boyle said it was an honor for the community to have “eight distinguished young men” be a part of it.
The Rev. Ellen Anderson, pastor of Saints United Lutheran Church, spoke of the Scout Law. A Scout is described as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
“If the world followed this Scout Law,” she said, “we would have no problems.”
Since Troop 155 formed in 1930, there have been 39 members who’ve become Eagle Scouts.
Statistics show that only 3 percent of Scouts go on to achieve that rank.
Also at the Jan. 6 ceremony, Nancy Ward was presented with the Ranger Award and the Silver Award, along with flowers, for her participation in Venturing, a Scouts program for boys and girls age 14 and older.
The Eagle Scouts thanked their families, fellow Scouts and Scoutmaster Don Wallace. A reception followed the ceremony.
The young men all agreed that summer camping trips were a highlight of their Scouting experience.
“I like being outdoors. I like being able to do all sorts of things. More people should be involved,” Brandon Wagner said.
The Eagle Scouts would recommend Scouting to young boys.
“It’s a unique, one-of-a-kind experience you can’t get anywhere else,” said Andrew Cassidy.
“You make friends, there are activities to do, you learn a lot and you keep out of trouble,” said Jason McAteer.
Colin Sawyer, who had perfect attendance throughout St. Matthew Elementary School and St. Joseph’s Prep, said involvement in Scouting and achievement of the rank of Eagle Scout looked good on his high school and college applications.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “You’re hanging out with a bunch of your friends and at the same time helping people and learning.”
Classes resumed for Jerome Dopkin, and he canceled a bus trip back to Pittsburgh to be able to attend the ceremony.
“It’s been the same core group of kids. It’s a solid group. We came up together. We’re like a second family,” he said.
Dominic Aquilino, a Boy Scouts district director, said the Scouts are often unseen faces behind good deeds such as their food collection efforts for the needy each November.
Usually, their reward is the good feeling they have inside. After achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, their reward is celebrated publicly among family, friends and fellow Scouts.
“They’ve made an impact on society and will continue to make an impact,” Aquilino said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org