MINOOKA — Scouting skills proved handy in the case of a canoeing mishap.
Alex Youngquist of Shorewood owes a debt of gratitude to fellow Boy Scout Patrick Wilkins of Channahon. When their canoe capsized in May 2011, Wilkins was able to pull Youngquist to the safety of the shoreline.
For his efforts to assist Youngquist from a difficult situation using his scouting know-how, Wilkins was awarded a heroism award from the National Boy Scouts of American Court of Honor.
Even though this incident took place in 2011, Wilkins, 18, received his medal during the annual Eagle Scout Reception on Jan. 5, 2013, at the Bolingbrook Country Club. Wilkins joined 68 Eagle Scouts at the reception from the Rainbow Council BSA, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout during 2012.
Wilkins’ act of bravery happened during Channahon Troop 444’s canoe training on a whitewater rapids facility in Yorkville in May 2011. Wilkins was 16 years old at the time.
When the boys were traveling through a stretch of eddies, Youngquist, then age 12, and Wilkins’ canoe hit a rock and turned over. Wilkins was able to hang on to the canoe, but when he realized that Youngquist was struggling in the water, he pushed off the canoe, swam to Youngquist, grabbed the younger scout and swam against the current, towing Youngquist to the island in the river. He pushed the younger scout up on the bank.
The two waited there for adults from the troop to maneuver another canoe to pick them up.
In the true spirit of scouting, Wilkins said he didn’t think about any award.
“I just did it, to do it," he said. "I knew Alex was tired after all the canoeing. He’s younger and smaller than me.”
Alex’s dad, John, said that it is the troop leaders who deserved the thanks.
“Don’t get me wrong, the troop leadership at the time promotes the buddy system and helping each other out," John said. "The training and the way they handled themselves, he (Patrick) knew what to do and how to do it.”
"We are as proud that Patrick earned his Eagle Award, as we are that he earned this (heroism) award," John continued.
Patrick's mother is Maria. He is a student at Minooka High School.
According to the BSA website, “The Heroism Award is awarded by the Boy Scouts of America to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrates heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at minimum risk to self. The action taken … must put into practice Scouting skills and/or ideals.” The BSA awarded 121 Heroism Awards in 2011.
The Eagle Scout rank is the highest rank that a youth member of the Boy Scouts can attain. The requirements include leading a group in a community service project, which requires a significant amount of time and planning.
Other requirements for the Eagle rank include earning merit badges in citizenship and first aid areas, and participating in troop activities. Only 5 percent of youth involved in scouting earn this prestigious rank.
Keynote speaker for the event was SO1 Zachary Duffy, U.S. Navy, Eagle Scout, class of 2004, graduate of Troop 464 in Minooka, who talked about how he uses his scout training and the scout oath to live his daily life and perform his duties as a Navy specialist. He encouraged the young people attending to “live the scout oath.”