Willis Elkins, a Hoover High Senior, received the Eagle Scout Award on Father's Day during a ceremony held at the MAPS Air Museum. The Eagle Scout Award is the highest advancement that is offered to a Boy Scout. Elkins, a member of Troop 935 at McDonaldsville St. Paul United Methodist Church, is the 66th member of the troop to be so honored since the troop was founded in 1967. Only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts earn this coveted award.
For Elkins, the path to earning his Eagle Scout award was long and hard. To achieve it, a scout must earn at least 21 merit badges. Elkins, however, went far beyond that, completing requirements to secure 26 badges. These included badges in aviation, basketry, carpentry, chess, climbing, coin collecting, computers, geology, Indian lore, leatherwork, traffic safety, weather and wood carving. In addition, he has been involved in various service projects, camped out with the troop 100 nights, taken part in numerous field trips, and hiked many trails at major state parks
Ironically, his path to the Eagle Scout award involved another path. Elkins designed and laid down a walkway to the P-51 monument at the entrance to the MAPS Museum off Massillon Road in Green for his project. The walkway connects the parking lot and the memorial, allowing easier access in bad weather or for those with disabilities. The brick path is approximately five-feet wide by 82-feet long.
For Elkins, the day was very special.
"This is obviously a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," he said. "After turning 18, a scout has no chance for the award. I have been a scout for 12 years - since I was six years old. Making it this far was very hard, it was not something that was a breeze. But now that I have gotten here it is all very exciting."
Following the presentation of the American Flag by an Honor Guard, there was a lighting of the candles and an explanation as to the responsibilities a scout has. Then Scoutmaster Dale Tschantz went over what Elkins had accomplished during his career as a scout. Following that, the presentation of the Eagle Scout Award was made by Scoutmaster Paul Smith to Elkins in the presence of his proud parents, Kerry and Gina, and his brother Joel, also an Eagle Scout recipient.
Elkins then made a few comments.
"I am thankful to everyone who came out to support me today," he said. "I would especially like to thank my parents for all their help over the years."
Elkins, a member of Jackson Friends Church, recently was awarded a scholarship from the Timken Company. This fall he will attend St. Louis University.