By BRIAN HODGE
Of the many young men who enter Scouts, relatively few see the progression to Eagle Scout. To earn an Eagle takes a dedication to completing goals and paying attention to details. When many boys get between 16-18, about the age most Scouts are in a position to achieve an Eagle rank, there is no shortage of distractions.
Pike Road resident Hunter Atkins earned the rank of Eagle Scout during the Summer and recently Mayor Gordon Stone recognized Hunter with an official proclamation.
Hunter’s mom, Jennifer Atkins, says that one of the most surprising things is that values and enthusiasm Hunter has learned, and had reinforced through Scouting, has spread to the rest of the family.
“The past 10 years have been quite a journey for us as Scouting Parents. We did not realize that Scouting would have such an impact on Hunter, or the entire family. Hunter has grown into a very thoughtful and caring young man and there is no doubt that Scouting played a large role in him developing into who he is today. The Scouting program focuses on volunteering, teamwork, self-improvement and leadership. He has set an example for the rest of the family by always volunteering to help others and by taking any leadership opportunity that becomes available. He has learned that true friendships are forged by those who grow together to be better people, not just those with whom you have things in common. Scouting is about continued development, which is earned within the Merit Badge program,” Jennifer said.
Hunter says that his parents especially his father, Todd, have been a motivating force in completing his Scouting goals, even when other things demand his attention.
“My father kept me motivated throughout my Scouting career, but especially these last couple of years while I have been in high school. He always encouraged me to finish the last Merit Badge requirements or work on my Eagle Scout project even when I was occupied with playing soccer for the LAMP High School varsity team or preparing for a Model United Nations Conference with the LAMP MUN Team. I would encourage others who have started the Boy Scout journey to work hard to complete it - it is definitely worth the time that you put into it,” Hunter said.
Hunter has also set an example for his twin sister Alex. Alex says she is impressed by Hunter’s ability to keep so many commitments going and still being available for his family.
“I am so impressed that Hunter reached the Eagle Scout rank. He has dedicated so much time to Scouting going to weekly meetings and weekend events, camping trips and he even paddled 61 miles one time through a swamp.....that is dedication. It is amazing how he has found the time to balance Scouting with school and his love for playing soccer,” Alex said.
All Eagle Scouts perform a community enhancing project and Hunter’s project was to enhance Harmony Cemetery on Lake Martin to include a pergola with an identification marker and seating for family members of the deceased to use while visiting the cemetery.
The Old Harmony Church is a historical church dating back to the early 1800s. There is a group of people who gather annually to honor those who have passed and for a memorial service. This year the group got together and all signed a Thank You card for Hunter and collected donations for Hunter to use toward his favorite charity which is fighting childhood cancer. Hunter was so surprised to see the card and personal notes, and to see how much money was donated, all because of the work he did at the cemetery. Hunter has since donated the money to Camp Smile A Mile, which is a camp for kids with cancer, on Lake Martin. This is a perfect example of Paying It Forward, one kind gesture from a teenager touched the lives of so many adults and now will touch the lives of so many kids in need.