The 2023 graduating class saw a record number of Eagle Scout participants with seven Boy Scouts earning the top honor. The seven included Jackson Caldwell, Matt Fox, Paul Huot, Nicholas Schimmel, Brendan Slonacher, Adam Sobiech and Justin Swain. Six of the scouts graduated from Milford High School while Schimmel graduated from Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Fox completed his Eagle Scout requirements first, building a gaga pit at Avenue United Methodist Church. Huot was next, building picnic tables and planter boxes for Banneker Elementary. Caldwell’s project was to clean up at Postles Cemetery while Slonacher created a reading and lending library at Lake Forest East Elementary. Sobiech constructed a kosk at the Milford Community Gardens, Schimmel completed a project at the Junction Breakwater Trail in Lewes while Jackson rounded out the group, building flag boxes for used and worn flags.
“I believe the key to having a higher number of Eagles is to have a core group of scouts that motivate and challenge each other,” Connie Huot, Troop 186 Assistant Scoutmaster and mother of Paul Huot, said. “If they were not such a close group of scouts, the outcome may have been different. While seven does seem like a lot, when they first joined the troop at age 11, there were 25 of them and these seven stayed until their last year.”
Huot stated that scouting taught him things about himself and others he may never have learned.
“I had amazing adventures and grew from leadership positions I held,” he stated. “I learned respect for the outdoors and other scouters. Becoming an Eagle taught me perseverance is key and is something I can carry my whole life.”
Swain felt that becoming an Eagle Scout helped him grow as a leader.
“To be an Eagle Scout is to be a leader within your troop and the community,” he explained. It’s about being prepared for anything life can throw at you and rising to any occasion.”
Slonacher not only achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, he was also the Class of 2023 valedictorian at Milford.
“To be an Eagle Scout, one must embrace the Scout Oath and the Scout Law to the fullest,” Slonacher said. “One must make a lifelong commitment to leadership, service and excellence. It means persevering when the path gets rough. And it means embodying the values of honor, loyalty and selflessness.”
Calling scouting an incredible experience that taught him a lot about leadership, Sobiech also gained an understanding of teamwork and perseverance.
“Scouting also taught me to be self-sufficient and how to work well with others,” Sobiech stated. “I think that prepared me well for adulthood, especially in my professional life.”
Schimmel agreed, believing that scouting had taught him skills that he would carry with him into adulthood.
“Scouting helps build a solid moral compass,” Schimmel said. “Scouting is an opportunity that I believe anyone that is able to take should.”
Echoing the sentiments of his fellow scouts, Caldwell believes scouting “fundamentally shaped” who he was today and taught him things he, too will carry forever.
Troop 186 has been meeting in the Milford area for over 65 years and is currently charted by the Mason Lodge in town. When school is in session, they meet on Monday nights at Avenue United Methodist Church. Anyone interested in having a male youth join the troop can email Troop186MilfordDE@gmail or visit www.BeAScout.scouting.org to find a unit in the area.
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