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Boy Scouts elevated to Eagle status at ceremony

posted Aug 30, 2008, 9:23 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856   [ updated Aug 30, 2008, 9:42 AM by Boy Scout Troop 856 ]
 
Keith Dill, right, 18, a member of Boy Scout Troop 369, has his Eagle Scout award pinned on by his mother, Phyllis Dill, as he is sworn in as Eagle Scout during a ceremony at St. John Lutheran Church in Summerfield.
SUNSET HARBOR - The collective noun for a group of eagles can be aerie, congregation or convocation. On Saturday, Adam Gikiere, Keith Dill and Daniel Walther faced a congregation in a convocation celebrating their elevated position as Eagle Scouts.

The three are scouts of Troop 369, chartered to St.John Lutheran Church in Sunset Harbor. During a ceremony at the church, they were formally awarded scouting's highest rank.

Each scout acquired 21 total and 12 required merit badges and completed a significant project. The path to Eagle for all three began in first grade.

Dale Gikiere, the troop's scoutmaster for one year and a scout leader for eight, has mentored the troop including his son, Adam, and said the troop has "grown up together."

NEW BENCHES

Adam, 14, a freshman at Belleview High School, gathered 28 merit badges on his path to Eagle and said personal fitness was the most difficult, due to tedious record keeping, and "swimming was most fun." He enjoys bicycle motocross and reaching goals before his brother, Alex.

Adam discovered a need for new benches to replace rotting ones at an outdoor stage area near Lake Lillian in Belleview. He gained permission from the city's public works director, Dennis Monroe, to install new benches as his Eagle project.

The 32 renewed bench seats are each 10 feet long and are arranged in a semi-circular, stadium style design. The seats allow viewing of the water tower area, the stage for events such as Belleview Founders' Day and Nine Mile Pond, and are used by others enjoying outdoor activities.

"We're glad to participate in the Eagle Scout program," Monroe said.

BUILDING BRIDGES

For their Eagle projects, Keith and Daniel each installed a wooden bridge on previously undeveloped property at Carney Island County Park and Recreation area, providing the public with expanded access to walking trails.

Keith, 18, a graduate of Forest High, is headed to Central Florida Community College. Of his 36 earned merit badges, he found personal management the most difficult and climbing and rappelling the most fun. He also enjoys computer games and electronics.

"This (Eagle rank award) will be a way to show employers and colleges my belief structure," he said.

"We appreciate the scouts," said Clarke Allen of Marion County Parks and Recreation. "The projects help the park. Carney Island has over six miles of walking trails, on 700 acres."

The first trail at the park "was originally the service road for the orange grove," Allen said, explaining that the property was previously owned by Minute Maid/Coca Cola and was once the site of orange groves.

The county park, which has undergone significant expansion, now has cookout pavilions that can be reserved, and improved boat launch areas. The completion of the bridges allows public use of about 20 acres of property that was previously isolated.

"It made the new trails possible," said Allen. The new trails are for more experienced hikers.

Designing the bridge and making it sturdy enough to handle weight loads as required by park maintenance was an exercise in engineering, which Keith hopes to pursue in his studies.

Daniel, 18, a West Port High alumni, is looking to enter the United States Air Force. He said he found the extensive record keeping of personal management the most challenging and white water canoeing and kayaking the most enjoyable of the 35 merit badges he earned. He participated in the Challenge of Outdoor Personal Experience at Camp Shands in Melrose and said his hobbies are computers and working on cars and other mechanical pursuits.

LIGHTER MOMENTS

Along with many hours of work and fundraising by the three scouts to complete their projects, there were some lighter moments along the trail to Eagle.

Daniel said an "exploding" bottle of sunscreen once permeated his backpack and scout manual. Keith got sick from drinking a fruit punch drink made with too much "red" content. At 2 a.m. during a camping trip, he began throwing up red, which his fellow scouts mistook for blood. After a commotion, a paramedic coincidently on hand resolved the fruit punch crisis.

Adam's fate on one camping trip revolved around a punctured tent. He had turned in during a rain storm and during the night realized that large holes in the floor had allowed the tent to flood. Already uncomfortable from sunburn, he retreated to a picnic table, where he was bitten repeatedly by mosquitoes. The moral of the story, he said, is "Choose your tent wisely."

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