A Rockville teen has received the Honor Medal from the Boy Scouts of America for rescuing a child from the ocean at Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Nathan Serway, 16, a member of Boy Scout Troop 1450 in College Gardens, is one of only about 2,500 Boy Scouts and adult leaders to receive the award since 1923, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
The award recognizes Scouts who save or try to save a person’s life at considerable risk to their own.
Nathan, a rising junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, said he was swimming during a family trip in August when he noticed a young girl having difficulty in the water.
“I noticed a little girl off to my left,” he said. “She looked like she was kind of struggling but she didn’t have a scared face.”
Nathan said he offered help, which she declined. When he noticed her continue to struggle, he said he asked again, and she changed her mind.
“So I just grab her,” he said, “under my right arm, and then I just started swimming. We were past the break [of the waves] at that point, so it wasn’t too hard to swim up to the break, because I could swim and drag her easily, but once the waves started breaking, we had to go under.”
Serway said he told the girl to hold her breath and pulled her under the waves and then back up twice before they made it to shore. Nathan then left the girl with her family. He doesn’t even know her name.
Brian McGahey, a member of the Potomac Division of the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Area Council and one of the officials who reviewed Nathan’s actions and awarded him the medal, said the Scout’s bravery was impressive.
“It seemed like Nathan didn’t realize how much trouble he was in,” McGahey said.
“It was a very big deal.”
Serway said he wasn’t thinking much immediately after bringing the girl to the beach.
“I was so tired, I kind of collapsed on the edge,” he said.
Nathan had completed training in water rescue with the organization, earning a merit badge for it, as well as for swimming, which also required some rescue training, he said.
McGahey said the training alone wouldn’t have made Nathan risk his own safety for a stranger, and that his actions were an indication of how he was raised.
“We train the boys in the skills,” he said, “but the instinct to go out there comes on your mother’s knee.”