Boy Scout 516 celebrates first Eagle Scout recipient

More than a decade has passed since he first joined his local Cub Scouts, and now he has reached the mountain peak, and for those who hiked with him, the view is unlike anything they have ever seen before.

Boy Scout Troop 516 gathered at Valley Forge Freewill Baptist Church Sunday afternoon to celebrate one of the troop’s biggest milestones in its four years of history: its first-ever Eagle Scout.

Over 30 scouts attended 17-year-old Cory Lawson’s Eagle Court of Honor.

“It is really special,” Scoutmaster Ricki Dykes said. “There are so many times where you know they are going to get there, then there are so many times you have to work with them.”

The title of Eagle Scout is one of the hardest achievements in the Boy Scouts of America program. According to Dykes, only about 2 percent of scouts actually reach this rank, and the process takes many years.

Because the rank is difficult to achieve, scout troops like 516 hold a Court of Honor in order to highlight the accomplishment and what it means for them going forward.

“It is a great award for many different people,” Lawson said. “I put a lot of hard work into it, and I really hope I can continue my Scouting career.”

The BSA structures its programs not just to teach knowledge or skills, but also life lessons and leadership skills, tests that become more difficult as scouts progress through the program.

Lawson’s journey through Scouting required him to obtain 21 Merit badges in order to qualify for the Eagle rank, 13 of which are mandatory for everyone while the rest are “electives” a scout can choose based on personal interest. The former include learning about cooking, local, state and federal governments, personal fitness, financial management and more.

“It has been a long journey,” Lawson said. “It only gets harder. You have to stay dedicated. You have to show a lot of leadership.”

Before Sunday, he was serving as the Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 516, a youth leader who helped make Troop-wide decisions with adult leaders.

“He has worked with me from the very beginning of the adventure,” Dykes said.

When Troop 516 started in 2014, the group consisted of two to three boys and a handful of adult leaders. Today, the troop is the only Boy Scout troop to remain in the Carter County region, and currently has over 30 members.

“I saw him come from this little shy young man to a wonderful leader,” she said. “We pretty much taught him the skills, and then he was senior patrol leader for two years because we just had a few boys.”

Despite the small beginning, both Lawson and the troop have grown since then, and now a crowd of people gathered to celebrate his accomplishment.

In many cases, earning the Eagle rank means leaving the troop to continue on towards adulthood, but Lawson said he has decided to stay for a while longer.

“My scoutmaster really wants me to be the Junior Youth Assistant Scoutmaster,” he said. “I am going to be doing the same thing I am doing now, helping boys showing up to meetings and teaching merit badges.”

Lawson is a rising senior at Elizabethton High School and will graduate spring of next year.

“I know the joy of being a parent, and now I know the joy of being a Scoutmaster,” Dykes said. “I know Cory is going to make a difference in the future.”

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