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Morris Boy Scout becomes Eagle Scout

MORRIS – For Boy Scout Alex Vermillion, Scouting is about more than just enjoying the good times.

It’s persevering through the rough times by pushing through to reach a goal.

And Alex, a member of Morris Troop 471, achieved the ultimate goal in Scouting this year – Eagle Scout.

It was worth it, he said. The hot sweaty summer camps, the mosquitoes, the physical work of making storm walls to prevent flooding at Rainbow Camp, his troop’s camp flooding with last summer’s historic floods, and even poison ivy.

That one is a good story, he said.

“I got lost the first year I went to summer camp,” he said. “We were coming back from opening fire, and all of a sudden I found myself with some other troop. I did circles around the camp for about an hour, walking around, and it was pitch black. I was petrified.”

Alex finally found his way safely back, just before the troop was considering sending a search party to look for him. He got poison ivy from all the tramping around he did that night.

“They were making fun of me for that for quite a while,” he said with a laugh.

Alex earned his Eagle Scout by completing the requirements for seven steps of rank, then completing a community service project. The process takes several years and involves leadership, community service, and earning 21 merit badges, among other requirements.

He joined Boy Scouts in sixth grade.

“We had like six kids in our grade join at once,” he said, “so I thought I’d go ahead and try it.”

And Alex found he loved it, especially the outdoor activities.

“The camping trips were definitely what I was looking forward to the most,” he said, “and I still think that’s the most fun part. I really love to camp.”

He has even gone on a winter camping expedition. The year he went, a blizzard struck. It was a total white-out, he said. The hiking was not easy with three-foot drifts to overcome. He and his buddies were not happy this year that the troop canceled its winter camp.

“Everyone was really sad,” he said. “It was like minus 20 out.”

Alex’s favorite merit badges were Aviation, Law, Electricity and Metalwork. He even used his new knowledge of electricity to put in a new outlet in his home.

“My dad supervised me, so I wouldn’t burn the house down,” he said.

For his Eagle project, Alex decided to construct new playground equipment for First Christian Church in Morris and Rainbow Preschool. His mother used to work at the preschool, and she told him kids would have to wait in line for some of the equipment, like the teeter totter.

For his project, he planned, organized and led the construction of two teeter totters and one six-foot bench.

“It was an original wood design that would support more weight,” he said. “It was better quality and more colorful for the kids. The height is adjustable.”

Alex planned and made calls and turned out mounds of paperwork for about a year, then it all came together in two work days last July. An Eagle Scout must be the leader for his project, so several of his fellow Scouts came to help, as well as the troop’s adults.

“Alex is a real good kid,” Troop 471 Scoutmaster Doug Pfaff said. “He’s our senior patrol leader, and he’s doing a real good job.”

Pfaff said Alex’s playground equipment is sturdy and will serve the kids at the church and preschool well.

Scouting has also served Alex well, his parents said.

“Achieving the Eagle is anything but easy,” said his father, David. “It takes a lot of determination and drive, and there are lifelong benefits. The number of life skills they learn along the way is just phenomenal.”

“We’re just really proud that he did it,” said Lynn, his mother. “A lot of boys are really into sports, which is fine, but Scouts does teach these boys so many life skills like cooking and managing money, and it has opened a lot of doors for him.”

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