A Morris Community High School student has achieved the highest rank the Boy Scouts of America offers – the Eagle Scout.
Shortly before his 18th birthday, Sam Crisman got the word that everything went through, and that the Eagle was his.
Crisman’s final achievement for the rank was building a lighted planter box sign at his family’s church in Channahon, Resurrection Lutheran Church.
“It was a commitment,” he said of the project and his years leading up to Eagle. “I think it was well worth it. Through it, you learn responsibility, develop different skill sets and overall, kind of become a more well-rounded individual.”
Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 469, Kyle Minett, has been with the troop in leadership positions for almost three years and saw Crisman through his final stages of working toward his Eagle. He said he is very proud of Sam for the achievement.
“Sam is a stand-up young man,” Minett said. “He reaches out to every kid. He wants to help them learn.”
Minett said reaching Eagle status is not just about the final project. It is years in the making, with rank advancements, leadership requirements, camping obligations, earning required merit badges and serving the community.
“It also teaches them to be better citizens and to be young men of strong moral character,” he said, “and Sam represents all of that.”
It’s a good place to make friends, too. Crisman is close to several Scouts he met years ago in Cub Scouts.
When he made the decision to cross over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, it was the camping he most looked forward to.
“You’re outside and earning merit badges,” he said.
Over the years, Crisman earned more than 30 merit badges, including ones in engineering, climbing, welding, first aid, robotics, camping, chemistry, personal fitness, cooking, emergency preparedness, Indian lore, kayaking and swimming.
Rifle shooting and shotgun shooting were two of his favorites.
He also went on several campouts, including ones at the nearby Rainbow Council campground in the middle of winter.
“One year, it was really cold,” he said, “and it was my first or second year. My feet were really cold, so I put HotHands in my shoes. ... I ended up blistering my feet that night.”
Nevertheless, he still took part in a Klondike derby with the rest of the Scouts the next day, racing sleds and participating in a fire-building competition and a contest to see who could cook the best pancake over the fire.
It was all great fun and a learning experience that could match no other. He came away with some solid survival skills, as well.
“I know a lot of knots,” he said, “and I can build fires pretty easily and work with raw materials to build small shelters.”
Crisman also went on an extreme adventure with his troop. Boundary Waters is a canoeing/camping adventure in upper Minnesota and Canada. It was a fun, but challenging, trip.
“There were a lot of portages,” he said of hauling canoes and supplies over land from one lake to another. “Some were about a mile.”
“I had a lot of fun,” he said. “It was really enjoyable. ... I loved the fresh air and the quiet.”
The days were hot and the nights were cool. And there were plenty of mosquitos.
“You had to be in your tent at nine at night,” Crisman said, “then you would hear the mosquitos come out. There were millions of them coming up from the grass. You’d get in your tent, then you’d have to kill those that were in your tent.”
Crisman’s last year was not exactly an easy one for him or the rest of his troop. Scoutmaster Tim Doss died unexpectedly. He gave a lot to the troop, especially sharing his passion for the outdoors. Crisman said Doss was a mentor to him.
“He was always there,” he said of Doss. “He was someone I could always talk to.”
Crisman’s parents, Paul and Cheryl, have helped the troop through the years, as well. The troop’s charter organization is The American Legion, and Paul also is the troop’s charter representative. His sister, Sarah, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 808, which admits girls.
Cheryl said her son’s Scouting experiences were a great family experience, as well as a source of independence for him.
“I think Paul went to camp every year with them,” she said. “It was a good thing for Paul and Sam to be out there doing things together.”
Sam Crisman plans on serving as assistant Scoutmaster with the troop for the remainder of his senior year.