Teen earns Scouting’s highest honor

VERGENNES — When Joshua Cook received his Eagle Scout badge this summer, he felt thrilled.
At age 19, he had finally completed what he had set out to accomplish at the age of 12. When he accepted his Eagle Scout badge in a ceremony at American Legion Post 14 in Vergennes on June 29, it was a culmination of an effort that lasted throughout his teenage years.
“It definitely feels like a huge relief that you’re done,” the Panton resident said. “I’m extremely excited I got it.”
Cook is now a third-generation Eagle Scout and is following in the hard-earned footsteps of his father, Chris, and grandfather, Dave, who have also attained Eagle Scout.
“Eagle is definitely the most challenging rank,” Cook said.
Cook is not exaggerating. Becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable as a Boy Scout, means years of commitment and dedication. In order to become an Eagle, a Scout must complete six ranks and obtain 21 Merit badges including Environmental Science, Family Life and Personal Fitness. Among other requirements, they must also serve six months in a troop leadership position, as well as complete a community service project.
The process is not easy: Vermont’s nearly 70 Eagle Scouts named this year make up only 3 percent of all boys working through the Scout ranks in the state. And in 2013, roughly 7 percent of Boy Scouts across the country working toward Eagle Scout obtained the rank.
Cook is no stranger to the commitment involved in becoming an Eagle Scout. He became a Cub Scout at the age of 12 and attended Scout meetings every Sunday, as well as an annual summer week-long Scout camp in which campers aim to achieve three to four merit badges per session. Cook said that typically Scouts will spend two to three years just earning the rank of Eagle Scout, and then another two to three years obtaining their badge.
For his community service project, Cook constructed roughly 20 bat houses that he and some helpers hung on barns and poles throughout the Monkton campus of the Walden Project, the Vergennes Union High School alternative education program that has its home on the Willowell property.
Building that many bat houses and finding spaces to hang them wasn’t easy, Cook said, but with the goal of reaching Eagle Scout in sight, he persevered.
“It depends on the determination to get there,” he said.
Because Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable, Cook has successfully completed every aspect of his Boy Scout career. While he will miss what has been an integral part of his youth, Cook says he’s ready to move on to other challenges.
“It’s definitely something I’ll take with me,” he said.
Cook plans to attend the Community College of Vermont to finish some core classes, and then to apply to another school to study marine biology. His time in the Boy Scouts has given him the “strength to go on and persevere,” he said.
Spending so much time working toward the Eagle Scout rank has also given him the opportunity to hone his leadership skills, something he said that has come in handy as an employee and co-worker at the Vergennes city pool.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “A huge chunk of my life is completed, what I set out to do. It’s great. And I got to help a lot of people along the way. I feel success and joy.”
JOSHUA COOK OF Panton displays one of the 20 bat houses he made and hung around the northern part of the county for the community service component of his Eagle Scout rank.

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