All seven of Hoffman Estates Troop 399's graduating members are now Eagle Scouts
In its 44-year history, Boy Scout Troop 399 in Hoffman Estates has produced more than 90 Eagle Scouts. But this year's group is a first.
All seven boys who crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts back in fifth grade have remained active in the troop and now are graduating from high school as Eagle Scouts.
"It's truly an amazing feat," says Scoutmaster Roger Malinski.
And Malinski should know. He has led the troop for the last 15 years, taking it over when there were just six Scouts registered, and now there are nearly 40. The troop is sponsored by St. Hubert's Church.
Malinski figures he has spent his entire adult life working with young people. Currently, he is enjoying a second career as a teacher's assistant at Schaumburg High School, but his interest in the Scouting program goes back more than 20 years when he accompanied his own boys to meetings, first as their Cub Scout leader and then as Scoutmaster.
Right from the start, Malinski says, he and the other leaders were intentional about how they wanted to lead their Scouts.
"One thing we didn't do was focus on rank advancement," Malinski says. "I know that sounds odd, but we didn't want to spend a lot of time focusing on just getting things signed off and boxes checked.
"Instead, we focused on finding opportunities to do things that would excite the boys," he adds, "and along the way, they got things signed off and moved up the ranks."
They took lots of campouts, where boys took turns serving in leadership positions, as patrol leader and assistant patrol leader. Alex Grogman says his first camping trip to the Mississippi Palisades State Park hooked him, while Nick Johnson said the rock climbing at Devil's Lake was something he never had done before, and he knew he wanted more.
As they got older, they went on high adventure trips, from backpacking in New Mexico, to sailing in the Bahamas and Florida Keys, to canoeing in the Boundary Waters.
Jason Matker says planning those trips were all part of the journey that, for him, was life-changing.
"The journey has instilled in me determination, survival knowledge and leadership that I will take with me into the Marine Corps," he says.
But Malinski and his leaders also immersed their Scouts in service. Over the years, they've developed three main projects: throwing a New Year's Eve party for families served by GiGi's Playhouse in Hoffman Estates, working with the local post office to carry out a food drive, and collect school supplies for the Grant-A-Wish organization in Chicago.
Their wide-ranging Eagle Scout projects demonstrate their commitment to the community. But it turns out these Scouts have reaped other rewards. Now, community leaders come to them to share their expertise.
For instance, Malinski says, for the Scouts to learn about first aid, they didn't just read about it in a textbook or watch YouTube videos, the troop brought in paramedics to teach them.
They also brought in local chefs to teach the Scouts to cook. These led to themed cooking competitions, determined by the boys, such as designing entire meals from different countries.
Malinski and his staff also were determined to teach their Scouts not only about patriotism, but about diverse faith traditions, bringing in different faith leaders to explain their cultures.
"We focus on results, with the end goal of the boys getting everything they can from the program," Malinski adds, "which for these boys meant becoming an Eagle."
Meet the 7 new Eagle Scouts
Erik Doyle of Hoffman Estates graduated from Hoffman High School. He will attend Harper College's trades program in the fall to become a welder. His project supported the cancer unit at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, where his mother was a patient.
Alex Grogman lives in Streamwood and attended St. Edward Central Catholic High School. He will attend Illinois State University in the fall to study marketing and professional sales. His project supported the Westbrook Senior Living facility in Streamwood.
Nick Johnson of Hoffman Estates graduated from Hoffman Estates High School. He will be attending the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall to study biochemistry. His project supported the WINGS Program, which serves victims of domestic abuse.
Michael Savage lives in Hoffman Estates and graduated from Hoffman Estates High School. He will attend the University of Illinois to study materials science engineering. His project supported the Almost Home Foundation in Schaumburg and its mission of rescuing dogs and cats.
Jason Matker lives in Schaumburg and graduated from high school through a home school program. In the fall, he will be going to Harper College and joining the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. He plans to major in criminal justice. His project supported the Village Church of Bartlett.
Jaydon Romsaithong lives in Streamwood. He graduated from high school through a home school program. He will be attending Harper College's trades program in the fall to become an electrician. His project supported Alliance Bible Church in Bartlett after it sustained damage during a flood.
Johnny Waity of Elk Grove Village graduated from Conant High School. He will attend the University of Illinois in Champaign to study electrical engineering. His project supported the Almost Home Foundation in Schaumburg.