Last Saturday, Boy Scouts of America Troop 603 honored Benjamin Soper for the Eagle Scout Court of Honor — the highest rank earned by the Boy Scouts of America – during a ceremony at the First Baptist Church. To qualify for the Eagle Scout rank, one must fulfill requirements in areas of service, leadership, outdoor skills, and pass specific tests to earn merit badges.
“The skills are so demanding, the challenges are so great, that it is not surprising to learn that only about four percent of all boys in Scouting achieve the rank of Eagle Scout each year,” said Charles D’Entremont, Master of Ceremonies and the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 603.
“I am so proud,” said Bill Soper, the proud father of the Eagle Scout.
Beginning as a Cub Scout many years ago, Soper dedicated himself to working diligently for his many Merit Badges. His Eagle Project, called “Light the Night,” was inspired by a speech Mayor Gary Christenson gave at a city council meeting noting that faulty streetlights play a role in crime in Malden. Soper organized groups of scouts and adults to catalog the streetlights that had burned out in the problem areas, and submitted the finding to National Grid which was able to begin the process of fixing them. A total of 159 lights were identified and the repair process had began is well underway.
At the ceremony, Scoutmaster George Burgess said of Soper, “Our country has had a great past, and you can help make the future even greater.”
Troop 603, one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the country, has been sponsored by the First Baptist Church for the past 100 years. For the two-hour weekly meetings, the church has provided the troop space and financial support.
Martha Dominy, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, said, “We’re interested in the youth of the community, and this is one way we can help and support them.”
The event was celebrated by Scout leaders, members of the Church, Scouts, friends, and families. Mayor Gary Christenson was originally scheduled to attend the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention but instead appeared at the Boy Scout event. The mayor noted, “Benjamin Soper and all of Troop 603 reassure us that the country remains in good hands. They are a testament to what hard work and dedication are all about.”
Charles D’Entremont said, “Scouting has experienced many changes over the years, but one thing remains constant, and that is the total development from boyhood to manhood.”
Scoutmaster George Burgess summed the scouting experience up: “It’s good to get the boys out of the house, and to learn something valuable through commitment, leadership skills, and responsibility that challenge them to realize their talents and abilities.”