Troop 2 BSA Santa Monica awards Eagle Scout rank to 11 remarkable youth
By Kamala Kirk
This month, 11 young men were recognized with the highest rank that one can earn in the Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts of America. The Eagle rank honors exemplary effort, leadership and service, and only 6% of Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle.
Four out of the 11 Scouts earned the honor in 2020 but were unable to have a ceremony due to the pandemic. All 11 Scouts were honored at the Troop 2 Eagle Court of Honor on June 13 and the private ceremony was held at the Gabrielino Tongva Springs in Los Angeles.
Troop 2 is one of the oldest and largest Scout troops in the western United States, and in its 74-year history, Troop 2 has awarded Eagle Scout rank to 375 individuals. The troop has traveled to Scout camps and high adventure destinations throughout the U.S., and Troop 2 Scouts have saved more than 67 lives using CPR, water rescue, first aid, and other skills and training.
The four scouts from 2020 are Trent Schroer, Nicolas Vaillancourt, Brian Yang and Michael Yang. Schroer and Vaillancourt are graduates of Santa Monica High School, Michael is a graduate of Loyola High School, and Brian is a graduate of Palisades Charter High.
The seven scouts from 2021 are Dakota James Bartley, Connor Burton Chen, Brian Kim, Jacob Jong Won Kim, Arjun Soni, Oisin Whitebloom and Jack Zemke. Whitebloom and Zemke are seniors at SMHS, while Brian, Jacob and Soni are juniors at SMHS. Bartley is a junior at New West Charter High School and Chen is a senior at Geffen Academy UCLA.
Whitebloom shared one of his favorite aspects of Scouting: “I think the best part of Scouting was beginning the day in the Lincoln Middle School gym…and ending the day completely out in the wilderness, away from technology, and looking at the stars.”
Chen added, “I think it’s something that has affected me, but I don’t consciously think about it. I think Scouting has led me to think about what it means to have good character. Just like the Scout Oath and the Motto, I’ve been thinking about that throughout my time as a Scout. And I’ve thought about what it means to be self-reliant, and being prepared, and having a good outlook on things.”
In addition to demonstrating proficiency in first aid, citizenship, camping, swimming, emergency preparedness and other skills, Eagle candidates must coordinate and complete a community service project that demonstrates significant leadership abilities. Each of the Scouts being honored led a major project to improve the quality of life of people in the community, and all projects included many hours of planning and manual labor by Troup 2 Scouts working under the direction of the Eagle candidates.
“In a really general sense, it’s leadership,” Chen said. “Leadership being to learn how to cooperate and take orders from someone else, essentially. Being patrol leader was one of the most difficult years in Scouting that I’ve had. Trying to keep everyone organized and on task. But at the end of that experience I became a much better leader and I was able to figure out how to motivate young Scouts.”
Zemke added, “You have to do things on your own. Nobody’s going to get it done for you…it gave me a huge upper hand in high school, it provides you with important skills, prepares you for life. Cooking skills, first aid, stuff my friends that didn’t do Scouting couldn’t do.”