When Perry Gordon and Gregory Brow of Bowie decided to clean up some local trails this summer, they weren’t just clearing the path for future hikers and bikers — they were paving the way for future leaders and empowering others to give back to their community.
Gordon, Brow and Benjamin Fritter of Crofton are the Bowie Boy Scout Troop No. 403’s latest Eagle Award recipients, and received the scouting organization’s highest honor on Aug. 16, surrounded by friends, family, politicians and community leaders.
Gordon and Brow’s Eagle projects involved repairing and expanding the trail systems near Nash Woods and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bowie, while Fritter’s included painting around 200 curbs in his neighborhood.
“When I first joined Boy Scouts, that trail was often used,” said Gordon, 18, who repaired the trail near Holy Trinity with the help of about 30 volunteers. “I found it was overgrown and the fence was in pretty bad shape. [The repairs] help out this church and that’s a major part of this community, and it helps the school [located in the church] so they can have their kids explore nature.”
All three students became involved with the Boy Scouts organization at a young age — Gordon and Brow started around age 6 and both have older brothers who completed the program and received Eagle awards.
Fritter, who said he is pursuing a career in firefighting, said his involvement in scouts helped him determine a career path.
“I like helping people a lot, and scouts revolves around that, so firefighting is the next step,” he said.
Brow said he thinks there are common misconceptions about Boy Scouts such as it being odd or overly strict, but that being involved in the organization helped him see the value of the skills and experiences it offers.
“A lot of people at my school mock scouting. They see it the way they would see the chess club,” Brow said. “But they don’t pay attention to the high-adventure and outdoor things we do.”
Gordon and Fritter agreed, adding their adventures have included climbing rocks, shooting guns and white water rafting.
The Eagle award is a cumulative achievement that is earned by as few as two percent of boys who enter the scouting program, said Jeff Kunkel of Bowie, troop 403’s advancement co-chair.
“There are many skills and achievements [scouts] have to meet along the way. The Eagle is the pinnacle of that,” Kunkel said. “It’s the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn.”
Scoutmaster Jim Morehouse of Bowie said Eagle requirements include demonstrating leadership and service skills as well as mastering things like personal fitness and financial management.
“They come in as little kids, who, in some cases are terrified of camping overnight. They can’t cook. They can’t put up their own tent,” he said. “To watch them grow [makes me] very proud, and kind of humble.”
The Eagle Court of Honor ceremony held to honor the three new Eagle Scouts included presentations from Bowie Police Chief John Nesky, Bowie City Councilwoman Diane Polangin (Dist. 2) and Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson.
“It’s so good to come to a place like this where you can sit back and take in the values represented by these young men,” Robinson said, then addressed the Eagle Scouts. “You represent the best in this community. You should be proud of your accomplishments because we’re very proud of you.”