Six Scouts achieve Eagle Rank from Wheaton's Troop 34

Six Scouts from Wheaton's BSA Troop 34 have recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable for a Scout. As part of the requirements, each Scout earned at least 21 merit badges, completed a service project and passed a board of review.

The board of review may be conducted up to 3 months after the Scout's 18th birthday, but all other requirements must be completed prior to the scout turning 18 years old.

The shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by starting freshman year at college ultimately delayed the celebration ceremonies for two of the Scouts, Ned Dorries and Charlie Tuma.

However, this delay allowed Ned's brother Michael enough time to finish his Eagle requirements, permitting the three Scouts to have a combined Eagle Court of Honor ceremony on Aug. 14.

Ned was glad to have the celebration before returning to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign to begin his sophomore year. For his service project, Ned constructed bookcases for St. Vincent dePaul's Thrift Store in West Chicago. Younger brother Michael, a student at Illinois Math and Science Academy, built compost bins for Whittier Elementary School for his service project. Michael said his project "provided a means of educating students about compost and the environment."

Although he has now attained the highest rank in scouting, he is still able to participate in troop activities and continue to earn more merit badges until his 18th birthday.

Ned and Michael are not the only Doerries brothers to become Eagle Scouts.

Their brother William earned his Eagle rank in 2018 after he lead a coat drive for St. Vincent de Paul. The project was such a success that the troop has continued it annually through their sponsoring parish school and church, St. Michael's Catholic Church in Wheaton.

Last year, over 200 coats were donated through this continuing program. When father Michael Doerries was asked about how it feels to have three Eagle Scouts in the family, he said "Katie and I are very proud of Ned and Michael, who like their older brother William, showed true grit and determination along their odyssey to earn boy scouts' coveted and preeminent rank of Eagle Scout."

Gavin McBeth was also able to celebrate his Eagle achievement before heading off to college this fall to study accountancy as well as play lacrosse at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A recent graduate of Wheaton Warrenville South, he built outdoor benches for Wiesbrook Elementary School.

"It was during the pandemic, and students were spending more time outside and social distancing, so I worked with the principal Dr. Brian Tyurna on a project that could benefit them. The key was that I wanted it to be something for them to build upon - hoping they would see it was from an Eagle Scout and plant the seed in their mind that they could gain a lot from Scouts."

He joined Cub Scouts as a first grader and stayed in scouts through this year when he attained his Eagle rank, turned 18 years old, then stayed on with Troop 34 as an Assistant Scoutmaster.

Not all Scouts, however, go straight from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Charlie Tuma stepped away from scouting for a year then returned in 2014 after attending a Polar Weekend sleepout at Starved Rock. He quickly moved through the ranks and then built a horse jump at Danada Equestrian Center for his Eagle project. He is currently attending Iowa State University where he is enrolled in the business and finance program. Charlie's path demonstrates that youth can join scouting at any point, and that being a Cub Scout is not a prerequisite to joining Boy Scouts.

Another Scout, Cody Smith, says that as a young child, he enjoyed fishing at Herrick Lake and so decided to give back to the DuPage Forest Preserve that gave so much to him.

Members of Troop 34 helped him build the kayak rack that sits on water's edge at Herrick Lake. "I wanted something that I could go back and see in the future, and feel proud of the accomplishment."

He was awarded a certificate from the DuPage Forest Preserve for his project. He joined Cub Scouts in 2011 and although there were other fellow Cub Scouts that crossed over into Boy Scout Troop 34 in 2015, he remains the only scout left from his original Cub Scout den. He has earned a total of 47 merit badges to date, the most of any current member of the troop.

Connor Smylie, a junior at Wheaton North High School, was elated to receive the news at the troop's recent meeting that he advanced to the rank of Eagle. His fellow troop members helped him build a wood shed for St. John the Baptist Church in Winfield this summer. He is planning to have his Eagle Court of Honor ceremony in the near future.

Since its inception in 1911, only 4% of scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank. Troop 34 received its original charter in 1921, making it one of the longest continuously chartered Boy Scout troops in Illinois. Troop 34 has approximately 15-20 scouts at any one time, and draws boys from Wheaton, Warrenville, Winfield and surrounding communities. Despite its smaller size, Troop 34 has helped over 115 scouts achieve the rank of Eagle scout since 1980. They meet weekly, camp monthly, and attend a full week of summer camp in Rhinelander, WI annually and is always open to new scouts joining.

For more information about BSA Troop 34, visit the website:

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