A century of Eagle Scouts: Scouting leaders have trong legacy in Historic District

A century of Eagle Scouts: Scouting leaders have trong legacy in Historic District

Henry Wilson, Scoutmaster Troop 2 Alan Wilson, Rear Admiral William Sizemore and Eagle Scout Ben Wilson

By Steve DiMattia –
Resident Community News –

Eagle Scout Riley Sapora was standing on a mountain summit in Costa Rica with a group of fellow students when suddenly one member fell over a ledge, slipping 10 feet into a crevice where his leg got stuck.
Everyone froze. Except Sapora.
He climbed down and the others, following his lead, lifted the injured man to safety and began a grueling seven-hour journey down the mountain.
Sapora, 23, who earned his Eagle five years ago, has no doubt that his training to achieve the highest award in Boy Scouting is the reason he responded without hesitation.
“It prepares you to handle any situation,” said Sapora, from Troop 2, St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Riverside.
Coincidentally, the injured student was also an Eagle Scout.
“Knowing he was an Eagle made helping him even more satisfying. There’s a special bond there with all Eagles.”
That bond began 100 years ago on August 1, 1912 when the first badge was awarded.
More than 2 million badges have since been earned, the second by a Jacksonville Scout, Earl George Marx. It is a bond that

North Florida Council Boy Scouts of America CEO Jack Sears presents a gift to the oldest Eagle Scout in the room, Bert Saunders

Eagles throughout Jacksonville’s historic district often share with family members. In Sapora’s case, two brothers: Joey, 20, and Ben, 18.
“There was no choice that I was going to get Eagle,” said Ben Sapora, who earned his in December 2011. “You just don’t want your brothers to get Eagle in front of you and you not get it.”
The Sapora brothers said that there was no real competition between them. “It actually made it a lot easier that my brothers were helping,” Ben Sapora said.
He credits not only his brothers, but also his scoutmaster, Alan Wilson, for his achievement.
Wilson became Troop 2 scoutmaster in 2005 and has helped 34 scouts earn their Eagle. For him it is a family tradition going back three generations beginning with his father.
“Knowing dad was an Eagle drove me to do it because I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” said, son, Ben Wilson, 19. “Having someone in the family to encourage me and who I could go to with scouting problems pushed me even when it wasn’t fun.”
Alan Wilson proudly states that his son is a better scout than he ever was.
“Being there while he, and now, my younger son, Henry, go through the process is a special thing,” Wilson said. “I overheard one of the kids say: ‘It’s not so cool to be a Boy Scout; but it’s really cool to be an Eagle Scout,’ and I think that is as true today as it was in my time.”
Most Eagles cite the Service Project as being one of the strongest character and leadership building experiences. The project and a minimum of 21 merit badges must be completed prior to the scout’s 18th birthday.
“The program leading up to Eagle has really formed him, but I saw Kent come alive during his Eagle Project,” said Ortega Forest resident Mark Zeigler, whose son, Kent, was awarded his badge recently at age 15 from Troop 522, Ortega United Methodist Church. “It really helped him ‘find his voice.’”
The scout must independently plan and execute a project that benefits an organization other than the Boy Scouts. Kent Zeigler repaired a roof at Iglesia Presbyterian Church.
“They needed to regain use of two Sunday school classrooms where a tree had landed,” said Kent Zeigler, whose Eagle legacy includes his great-grandfather, father, uncle and three cousins. “It was a mess, leaking and mildewed. We fixed walls and used a propane torch to repair places on the roof where it was damaged.”
The project took 120 hours and extensive coordination with the church’s pastor, building professionals and fellow scouts.
“It was really hard but really rewarding and I learned a lot,” Kent Zeigler said.
The project measures the scout’s ability to take ownership and see a large task through to its end, said Mark Zeigler, who co-chairs the Eagle Advisory Board.
“Their interview with us prepares these young men for real job interviews; it teaches them to be comfortable with themselves and to convey that to a leader. It often happens that, as they are telling us everything that went wrong, that is when the real lessons seem to click in for them. It is a very powerful and emotional
experience.”
Equally powerful and emotional is the Eagle Court of Honor and badge presentation.
Sometimes the guest speaker distinguishes the ceremony. Ben Wilson, Ben Sapora and four fellow scouts had the unique honor of receiving their badges in the presence of Rear Admiral William Sizemore, Chief of Naval Air Training. He also happens to be a Troop 2 Eagle Scout.
Other times, it is a display of the very character traits for which they are being honored that marks the ceremony. That was the case on August 12 when Ortega residents, Stephen and Christopher Barton from Troop 26, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, received their badges.
Stephen, 20, waited nearly three years while Christopher, 18, earned his badge so that the two could receive them together.
“I thought it would be something unique that really defines us as brothers, just one more thing that Chris and I can share,” said Stephen Barton. “I had confidence that he would earn his badge and I related to what he was going through, so I was able to encourage and nudge him along.”
These are sentiments to which Riley Sapora would relate.
“My brothers and I shared a special part of our childhood; there are few other things that will bond us like that. Getting the Eagle Scout is a rite of passage that has prepared us for a lot more learning experiences.”
That rite of passage seems to lead to success: Riley Sapora is a recent pre-med graduate, Ben Sapora a business major, Ben Riley a computer science major and Stephen Barton studies creative writing while Christopher Barton majors in criminology.

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