Great Bend High School sophomore Nick Gerdes has recently attained the prized Eagle Scout status by installing a light for the U.S. flag surrounded by a rock garden at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center last summer.
The Eagle Scout award is the most prestigious rank available in the Boy Scouts. Only 5 percent of all Boy Scouts complete the many requirements, according to the Boy Scouts of America website. In 2011, the average age of boys earning the Eagle Scout rank was 17.
“I always did like Scouts,” said Gerdes who is 15 years old. “I like being outdoors, camping and being with friends.”
He started Boy Scouts in first grade.
What surprised Gerdes most about his Eagle Scout project and what was actually the hardest, was the time doing all of the paperwork and planning.
While the pole was already up, Gerdes had to raise funds for the electrical work for the light, limestone, rocks and the yucca plant. Some of the limestone came from his Dad’s farm.
The electricity had to be wired in by a professional; the remainder of the work was coordinated by Gerdes. Ten boys from his troop and five adults helped.
The Scout got the idea for the project from discussions with former KWEC Educator Eric Giesing. KWEC Manager Curtis Wolf also assisted Gerdes with research and other help.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is an involved process, and another activity that Gerdes has participated in is planning meetings. “The older Scouts take over and lead meetings,” he said.
Gerdes is not the first boy in his family to become an Eagle Scout. Nick’s dad, his dad’s two brothers, and his mother’s brother all became Eagle Scouts.
Gerdes is a member of Troop 157 led by Steve Divis, and Gerdes plans to keep participating until he is 18 years old when he has to quit. He has earned 28 merit badges and can earn up to 130.
“I choose whatever badges that are interesting and that I can learn new things,” Gerdes said.
He is the son of Tim and Christie Gerdes and likes to hunt, play football, run track and be outdoors. He has one sister.
Gerdes is not sure what he wants to be when he grows up, possibly something in environmental studies or biology.
“I recommend Boy Scouts for others boys,” said Gerdes. “You learn skills you can take to other places.”
The requirements to become an Eagle Scout are:
•Be active in your troop, team, crew, or ship for a period of at six months after achieving the rank of Life Scout.
•Demonstrate you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in daily life. List the names of individuals who would be willing to provide a recommendation.
•Earn a total of 21 merit badges.
•While a Life Scout, serve actively for a period of six months in a position of responsibility.
•Plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project.
•To give a statement of ambitions and life purpose; and hold Scoutmasters conference.