ILION — Elijah Brink is one of the newest Eagle Scouts with the Boy Scouts of America — an achievement that’s easier said than done, he said.
The rank specifically requires each scout to earn 21 merit badges and plan, develop and lead a community service project. With the latter, the community projects logged by Brink and his fellow Leatherstocking Council members involved more than 10,000 service hours collectively.
Their efforts did not go unrecognized.
The Leatherstocking Council's newest Eagle Scouts were honored Saturday with a reception at Francesca's Banquets & Catering in Ilion. The Leatherstocking Council represents the counties of Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Otsego, Schoharie and Delaware.
"A lot of people think that it’s an easy road," said Brink of Troop 50 in Sauquoit, "But when you get first class, it gets pretty difficult to rank and get all the merit badges and things. But once you do, the sense of achievement is overwhelming."
Brink, 18, is one of 66 members of the Leatherstocking Council to achieve the Eagle Scout rank this year. More than a few dozen attended Saturday's ceremony, including 15-year-old Leon Zong of Troop 4 in New Hartford.
"One of the main things in Scouting is leadership," Zong said. "They plow that into us from the beginning where we have to listen to our leaders and lead by example, and that stuff will all help us in the workplace."
The number of scouts to earn the rank of Eagle Scout has remained relatively steady for much of this decade, with 57,147 such scouts in 2010 compared to 55,186 in 2016, according to scoutingmagazine.org.
The trend also holds true locally, said Tom Labayewski, the Leatherstocking Council's field director. With the Boy Scouts of America moving last year to allow girls to join, however, Labayewski said he is seeing a bit of an increase in popularity with Scouting.
The Leatherstocking Council welcomed its first female members with the Cub Scout program that started this fall, while the organization will expand with older girls next month.
"I think it's great because I have a daughter interested and waiting to join. It just gives families more options," Labayewski said. "I think probably two and a half, three years from now, you're going to see some young ladies in this crowd as they earn their Eagle Scout award."
Contact reporter Greg Mason at 315-792-5074 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Mason).